Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Television Shows for Armchair Detectives

We have a guest editor today, Jay Smith and the folks at the Criminal Justice University. I love lists, and this is a particularly good one. I might add some of my own at the end.

10 Shows for the Criminal Mind 

There are many television shows airing that follow the lives of detectives and investigators that are assigned various crime cases. While some of the shows are summaries of real-life events and others are fiction they are all definitely intriguing. The following are 10 shows that will keep the criminal minds entertained:

"Snapped": "Snapped" is an American television crime series that airs on the Oxygen network that recalls the real life events of women who have committed or attempted to commit murder. Each episode details the events that occurred and includes clips of the trials, interviews with people that were involved in the case (family, law enforcement, attorneys, etc) and sometimes the accused themselves. The episodes end with the verdict and sentence of the case and an updated summary of where each defendant stands. 

"Cold Case Files": "Cold Case Files" is a documentary style series that airs on A&E hat follows the investigations of cases that were never solved and then reopened many years later. Referred to as “cold cases” by detectives, these cases have been opened again because of emerging technological advances in forensics, recent breakthroughs in the case, or witnesses who come forward years later. The episodes of this show have been known to be used by law enforcement agencies across the country for training purposes. 

"Forensic Files": Forensic Files is a documentary type show that airs on truTV and shows how forensic science is used to solve crimes. The show follows one case per episode, from the initial investigation to the legal resolution, with reenactments and, in some cases, name changes, for privacy. The show also features medical examiners, coroners and forensic detectives and specialists involved with the case and clips of their interviews are shown. Some of the best and most well-known forensic analysts in the country have also appeared on the show. 

"America’s Most Wanted": "America’s Most Wanted" is an American television show that airs on Fox and is meant to assist law enforcement in capturing fugitives that remain on the run. Many of the fugitives, who are wanted for murder, rape, kidnapping, child molestation, armed robber, and terrorism, and white collar crimes, are also on the FBI’s Most Wanted lists. The show has been fairly successful; over 1,100 people have been captured from being shown on the air. 

"48 Hours Mystery": "48 Hours Mystery" is a program that airs on CBS that presents true crime documentaries and mysteries. The show does not use a host and rather is narrated by the reporter who was assigned the story and is also known to report on special cases such as past or current shocking events that were made media headlines. This program has been known to be quite popular and has received over 20 Emmy awards. 

"Law & Order": "Law & Order" is a police and law related drama series that is often based on real events that have made headline news or recently occurred. The show is usually separated into two parts: the investigation of the crime and the capture of the suspect, followed by the prosecution of the District Attorney’s office in the second part and is usually shown from the prosecution’s point of view. At the time of its cancellation, Law & Order was known as the longest running crime drama on American prime time television. 

"The Closer": "The Closer" is an American crime drama series that originally aired on TNT that follows a police detective that leads the Crime and Homicide Unit (depending on the season), teams that are assigned to deal with high profile murder cases. Each episode portrays the aspects of Los Angeles culture as it interacts with law enforcement and highlights issues of public policy, honor, faith, and government responsibility. 

"CSI": "CSI" is an American drama television series that follows criminalists who use evidence to solve brutal murders. Many episodes on the show feature lengthy scenes that focus on technical work, experiments and tests that usually involve high-tech technology and gadgets that don’t exist. The series is also known for using unusual, close-up camera angles and graphic and sometimes gory portrayals of murders. 

"NCIS": "NCIS" is a drama television series that premiered on CBS that revolves around a fictional team of agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. This team conducts investigations involving the Marine Corps and the US Navy and is often assigned to high profile cases including terroristic threats, deaths, kidnappings and bomb situations. 

"Bones": "Bones" is a crime drama series that premiered on Fox and is based on forensic anthropology and focuses on cases concerning the human remains found by FBI agents and given to a forensic anthropologist for analyzing. The show is based loosely on the life of Kathy Reichs, who is a forensic anthropologist and also produces the show. 

Thanks to Jay Smith from the Criminal Justice University.

Now, I'd like to add a couple of my own TV shows worth watching: 

"The Glades": A new favorite with me. This show is about Jim Longworth, a Chicago detective who moves to Florida after a debacle with his previous squad commander. The episodes follow his investigation, including scenes with the medical examiner, and the series portrays a lot of mental investigative research. 

"ID: Investigative Discovery": This Discovery Channel has a variety of topic and subject categories, ranging from Solved, to Deadly Women, Unusual Suspects, Wicked Attraction (about couples who commit crime) and, one I have yet to watch: Who the Bleep Did I Marry? 

"Hawaii Five-O": A remake of the original series that was so popular long ago when television was free. We did get the lowdown on the phrase, "Book 'em, Dano-0," but I don't know how this new one will hold up; it looks very action-oriented.

And keep an eye on the new shows in the genre: "Detroit 1-8-7" and "The Whole Truth" on ABC; "Blue Bloods" and "The Defenders" on CBS; "Nikita" on the CW; and "Outlaw," "Undercovers," "Chase" and "Law & Order: Los Angeles" on NBC. And, a surprise, the BBC has a "Law & Order-UK." Feel free to leave comments about what you like and don't like.


Anonymous said...

This is a great list. I have been watching "Castle" lately and enjoy the banter between the two main characters. There seems to be at least as much crime and true grit kind of action there as on some of the others mentioned. I will continue to watch "The Whole Truth" for the interesting angle each week, even though it has poor numbers. "Law & Order: Los Angeles" is creeping up on my go to list as is "Law & Order-U.K." I really like "Outlaw" and "Blue Bloods" too. "The Defenders" keeps drawing me back, funny and tender at times ...must be the reason why! Oh yeah about "Hawaii Five-O" The cast on that one is a winner and the action and story line believable. Really enjoyed the "I.D. Investigative Discovery" series with Aphrodite Jones last spring too.
Thanks for the list, will keep it handy when I need a fix.

Prf_isleR said...

I too was pleasantly surprised by the Glades. The main character is the type of fictional character who "doesn't play well with others, and doesn't play by the rules". Yet he is not just a copy of others in that mold. His personality is fleshed out and appealing. Being a the wife of a Marine I have always enjoyed NCIS, as Mark Harmon's character reminds me of my husband.
Thank you for a lighthearted, entertaining review of crime-fiction and documentary style shows.

Anonymous said...

The Glades surprised me as well. I didn't expect to like a show that just seemed like another take off of a police show. Great acting and some good storyline quickly proved me wrong.

One show I feel is missing from this list is Criminal Minds. I enjoy this show, if only to watch how the main characters interact with each other.

I just caught the last 45 min of Law and Order UK the other day. Wasn't bad, but didn't hold my attention as well as the original. I'm not a fan, however, of Law and Order Los Angeles. Just never could get into it.

Just my two cents.

Thanks for the posts. I look forward to them every day.

Andrea Campbell said...

Thanks to all of you for adding your comments. How about that Criminal Minds this year (sorry for the omission)—but boy, is it dark or what?