Rene Balcer, co-developer/executive producer of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which started off on NBC before migrating to the USA Network, is back at USA with a new project, a drama he is writing as well as executive producing with Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment. Described as “The X-Files meets The Matrix“, DarkNet is a mystery series about a couple of cyber-crime investigators who stumble across a far-reaching conspiracy to change the course of human evolution. “On one level, DarkNet‘s a cautionary tale about transhumanism inspired by something Ray Bradbury said,” Balcer said. “He thought the Internet was a massive scam perpetrated by computer companies. I thought, what if he was only half-right, and they had something far more sinister in mind.”

DarkNet, produced by Universal Cable Prods., centers on a woman with an MIT degree whose younger sister disappeared years ago, allegedly a victim of a cyber predator. As part of her quest to find the truth, the woman joins the FBI’s cyber crime unit where she is partnered with a former hacktivist who was recruited by the FBI after serving time in jail. USA has had success with two-lead series, most notably, White Collar and Suits.

Balcer is a 20-year veteran of the Law & Order franchise. He wrote an episode in the first season of the flagship Law & Order and joined the series in Season 2. He rose to executive producer before leaving in 2001 to executive produce and showrun spinoff L&O: Criminal Intent, which he developed with creator Dick Wolf. Balcer was at L&O:CI for five seasons, during which time the show was sold to USA in off-network syndication, before returning to the mothership series in 2007 as executive producer and head writer. He served as showrunner on the long-running drama for its last three seasons before segueing into an executive producer/showrunner position on Law & Order: Los Angeles. Balcer, repped by UTA and Dan Walerstein, just wrapped production on the first season of TF1 crime drama Jo starring Jean Reno, which he created and executive produces.