Sunday, 26 April 2009

Watching the Detectives

I like the telly!

Well I did identify it as one of my guilty pleasures a little while back. I try not to watch daytime telly too much as I don’t get anything done. However during the daytime now that Wanted Down Under has finished, I really only watch Diagnosis Murder. Yes I know it’s a bit lightweight in the drama stakes and it’s often corny, but I love it. So now I’m listening to the radio in the morning, Radio 2 of course!

When I started to think about my telly watching, I realised that I mainly watch comedy and crime dramas as I don’t like the reality and talent type of programmes and I’m not into the soaps. There’s not a lot of decent comedy around so it’s mainly crime drama that I watch now.

What am I watching in the crime drama stakes at night? Well I’ve been watching Lewis, Inspector Morse’s old sidekick. It’s not quite in the same league as Morse however it's good but sadly it’s finished. Well there were only six, two hour episodes. I do like the two hour programme format that they introduced with Inspector Morse, they get more story into it and you don’t feel they’re cramming everything in to the last five minutes.

I’m also watching the new series of The Number One Detective Agency I posted about recently. I do love it. The scenery is great, the music is lovely and the characters are just wonderful.

Ashes to Ashes is back again thank goodness. It’s not as gripping as Life on Mars, but it’s good and funny too.

When I think back over the years there have been so many good TV crime drama series. The first one I remember was Dixon of Dock Green with the lovely Jack Warner as Sergeant Dixon. He was everybody’s idea of a what a British bobby should be like, even though he was well over retirement age when he made the series. I think it was that one that got me hooked on crime dramas!

Over the years there have been dozens I’ve enjoyed, some I never could take to and a few that I’ve loved. At Easter ITV3 had a programme on the Top Cops where you voted online for your favourite TV Cop Show. Well that’s what it said and although I missed the voting for the top fifty, I thought I’d get to see some of my favourites I haven’t seen in years. Well I watched for three hours and guess what? I didn’t get to see some of my favourites! I won't bore you with the whole fifty, only the top ten. Here they are:

10 - The Sweeney with Jack Regan and George Carter from the Flying Squad who were just about as bad as the villains they were chasing, rough and tough. Not one of my favourites.

9 - Rebus – the alcoholic troubled and tormented cop. Again not one I took to.
8 - Sherlock Holmes - He was played by over 100 actors but most popular has been Jeremy Brett. Still great to watch after al these years.

7 - Foyle’s War with Christopher Foyle the gentle, quiet and unassuming detective during second world war. One of my all time favourites and they're bringing him back for another series.

6 - Inspector Frost – A crumpled, dishevelled character who irritates everyone especially his boss, Superintendent Mullett. I love the humour and the real feel to this series.
5 - Inspector Morse – This has got to be the most intelligent and classy TV detective series ever made and in the wonderful setting of Oxford. I didn't take to it at first but I can watch it now over and over again now, and I do. First class TV!
4 - Midsomer Murders – Once described as Miss Marple on acid! This series makes rural England more dangerous than downtown Basra! However very easy viewing.
3 - Poirot – I love David Suchet as Poirot, he's amazing. It's a wonderfully produced series with beautiful clothes, wonderful touches of humour, brilliant actors and lovely thirties settings.
2 - Life on Mars – Oh this was one you couldn’t miss! You had to see whether Sam Tyler, the modern politically correct cop came out of his coma and got back to the 21st Century after an accident had sent him back to the perils of seventies policing. Brilliant and compulsive viewing.
1- The Professionals – Bodie and Doyle working for CI5 in an action packed programme full of car chases, fights and guns in the seventies. Not one I felt a great liking for and I find it hard to believe that this was the number one in the vote. In fact I find it impossible.

No I don't believe this was a fair ballot, not because The Professionals came out on top. It's because the fifty were selected for you and you could only vote for those that somebody at ITV had selected. What a swizz!

You probably noticed that all the top ten were British programmes, well there were lots of American ones in the top fifty such as Kojak, Magnum and Columbo. However I can tell you that some of my favourites didn't make the top fifty. Why? Because they were not included in the list!

Whatever happened to Harry O for goodness sake? I loved this series. Probably the best American TV detective series ever made. So which prize pratt at ITV 3 didn't include him?

Oh and what about The Rockford Files? Yes I know his character wasn't as well drawn as Harry O but it was great viewing and there were nice touches of humour.

Monk wasn't in the list, nor was Cannon, Due South and neither was the wonderful Newcastle based 55 Degrees North. So I think it’s time for me to whack off an email to ITV 3 to tell them what I think about their so called Top Fifty cop shows.

In the meantime I think I might take a nostalgia trip and do a few postings on my favourite detective shows. Watch this space!

Credit: Harry O photo front cover of The High Cost of Living - Lee Hayes


  1. I never missed "Diagnosis Murder" or Angela Lansbury in "Murder, She Wrote" when they were on TV each week. I too am enjoying "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" each week now. I love it too. It moves along a bit faster then the books.

    Of the top ten choices I heard of two of them; "Poirot" and "Sherlock Holmes." But, like you said, the top ten were British programs. I will be looking forward to your nostalgia trip down "Detective Lane!"

  2. Winifred, you have struck the proverbial chord with me on this one. I love Detective/Mystery shows and I will have to do this list for sure (both British and American). I didn't know you are a Life on Mars fan! I love that show!

    Gene Hunt rocks!


  3. Okay, I'm right in there with you. But, I have to watch these on Netflix because we only have one TV on cable so my sweet hubby hogs that one for History, Poker, Discovery, etc.

  4. I need to watch more television. I don't know half of these shows you mentioned. Apparently, I'm deprived.

  5. God but I miss David Janssen!

  6. I love Law and Order, CSI, and real crime stories. I have always been fascinated with detective shows.I love espionage shows too. 24 is my favorite. I think it is in its 6th season I must say it's really thrilling this year.

  7. You've mentioned some good ones. I love Magnum PI, Murder She Wrote. The British ones sound amazing.

    My favorite American cop drama was Homicide. It was filmed in Baltimore. It was quirky and weird.

  8. Oh I used to love Harry O and Columbo and Rockford Files. Have you ever seen Madlock with Andy Griffith? I have not seen many of the British ones that you mentioned though, sorry to say. Maybe someday though. I think I could get them from our library.

  9. OMIGOSH, you have taken me back in time. We never missed "Murder She Wrote". My girls said Angela Lansbury was just like their grandmother (my mom) and they were pretty close to the target.

    I'm going to do a little research and write about my favorites of the past. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the idea for a future post.

    Right now, I can't miss "Without a Trace" which I understand could be going bye-bye soon.

    ~hippo hugs~

  10. That sounds like a lot of good television. One of the ironies of British entertainment I find is, you create the original versions (moview or shows etc.) and then they are copied elsewhere. Usually butchering the original format to satisfy advertisers or producers. Go figure.

  11. Well we had Morse and Rebus in common, but I loved Morse much more, the scenery was always so great.

    We just watched the American version of 'Life on Mars' and I thought it was ok (but I was only a child in the 70's). However the Hubster who was a late teen just loved it. But we've heard the Beeb version is alot better.

  12. Well I haven't seen the USA version of Life on Mars but the BBC one was absolutely brilliant. Maybe the people who air the shows in the USA think that the British versions wouldn't be suitable for some reason. Life on Mars was set in the North of England and was quite quirky.

    Yes Gene Hunt rocks! He's on tonight in Ashes to Ashes where he has a bigger part if you pardon the expression!

    We still get Murder She Wrote and I quite like it.

    Oh crumbs I miss David Janssen too, he was gorgeous but such a wonderful character actor. He just never got the credit he deserved for his acting and he should have had much better parts in films. I would have loved to have seen him in a comedy, he had such a dry delivery style. Really sad he died so soon. There's a whole generation out there who don't know him as they haven't released Harry O on DVD. Yet!

    I have seen Matlock but it was a long time ago. He was a nice character.

    I like programmes where you get to find out more about the characters than just the plot and action. Car chases are boring unless it's Gene Hunt in his Audi Quattro!

    Some of the characters are very two dimensional in lots of programmes. Even better if they get good scenery and some humour!

  13. Hi Winifred,

    I don't watch any detective shows these days, and like Rudee, am TV deprived. I used to enjoy Colombo," "Murder She Wrote," and "Diagnosis Murder," but nowadays, I enjoy some reality shows, and good movies on Showtime, etc. I like the Travel Channel, Animal Planet, HGTV, and watch the news a lot.

    But I did enjoy your enthusiastic TV fan post!



  14. Frank and Cloody are not doing good at this time. I hope he will get back to his blog. I tell him we all miss him. I am not sure he has even been reading the blogs lately.


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