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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


As the author of a forthcoming collection of mystery short stories (discreetly advertised just to the right of this post), I've been a long-time fan of TV crime shows.

So I was intrigued when TV Guide ran their listing of the 25 best TV detectives a few years ago. Though I had the usual complaints about some of the choices (for example, Charlie's Angels made the cut, while Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes didn't!), I thought they did a pretty good job. I even agreed with their number one choice: James Garner as Jim Rockford.

How about now?

I mean, there's a fascinating new crop of detectives and crime-stoppers on the job, from Monk to Dexter, from series like The Closer and Saving Grace to Psych and--okay, it's a stretch--Reno 911. But are there any would-be classics in the mix? Shows that will stand the test of time?

What do you think of today's crime shows, and today's crime-catchers? Feel free to weigh in.


Peter Anthony Holder said...

I have found that the new Fox series "New Amsterdam" is a rather interesting concept of a police officer who is actually immortal and is 400 years old in search of his one true love.

So far they have managed to balance this character's personal life with his cop life, but I don't know if this is something they can sustain. It certainly is a fresh spin.

Dennis Palumbo said...

It may be of interest to list TV Guide's 25 Best TV Detectives (2000):

1) The Rockford Files (1974) Jim Rockford has topped a TV Guide survey in which readers were asked to name their favorite TV detectives ever.

The magazine commented, "The crimes he solved were hardly complex. And his detective work was rudimentary at best. But from the moment, he told a client, 'I get 200 dollars-a-day, plus expenses, ' you were hooked."

2) Columbo, starring Peter Falk, placed second in the survey, but Jessica Fletcher of the long-running Murder, She Wrote did not even make the top 10, coming in at 13.

3) Andre Braugher as Frank Pembleton in Homicide: Life on the Street.

4) Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless in Cagney and Lacey.

5) Telly Savalas, Kojak.

6) Tom Selleck, Magnum P.I.

7) Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect.

8) Cybil Shepherd and Bruce Willis as Maddie Hayes and David Addison in Moonlighting.

9) Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-0.

10) Dennis Franz as Andy Sipowicz in NYPD Blue.

lmarsa said...

I mostly agree with TV Guide's list. My candidate for immortality among the current crop of show?? Dexter. Dexter. Dexter. It's even better than--dare I say it?--The Sopranos. Superb acting and writing, and the way they superbly captured Miami's gritty multi-national textures. It is so right on that last season, Keith Carradine's by the book FBI agent, once the staple of cops shows, seem stranded in another century.

jc said...

No longer on, but available on DVD is Veronica Mars, by far the best tv detective in recent years. She is a great character and the writers did a phenomenal job of presenting an over arching mystery for the first season that made sense, didn't cheat, and somehow got tied up in one hour.