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  • Crime / Mystery / Detective Shows

    In recent years, I've been diving into cop shows that involve murder mysteries. Nothing against today's CSI, Law & Order, and their many spin-offs, but it's the shows from decades ago that I enjoy. I've even made it my Sunday night line up. Last year it was Perry Mason, Mike Hammer (1958-1959), and Columbo. Honestly, Perry Mason as a kid bored me. C'mon, it's about Raymond Burr running around collecting clues and arguing in a court room. Little action and a lot of talking. Today, it's damn good. The way Burr smirks when he knows he's about to entrap a witness or has figured out the mystery is aces. Mike Hammer is a (very) low budget detective show filmed on the streets of New York City. Oh, it also has Darren McGavin from Kolchak: The Night Stalker. If you haven't seen that, you should as it's a major inspiration for The X-Files. Anyway, McGavin's charisma and charm is just as good in the role of Mike Hammer as he solves crimes. Anyone all for equal rights though should stay away as women are often portrayed as conniving, manipulative, sex objects that cannot be trusted.

    This year, my Sunday lineup is Perry Mason (it's got nine seasons and at one episode a week, it'll be a while!), Decoy, and McMillan & Wife. Mason continues to rock while Decoy is a cool hidden gem. Like Mike Hammer, it's definitely low budget, but it's also the first TV show to film at New York City locations and it features a female lead played by the ass-kicking Beverly Garland. Unlike Hammer, it's a cop show as Garland plays a police officer. It somewhat reminds of Naked City which takes the same approach but is heavier on the noir elements at times. A big surprise is how much I'm enjoying McMillan and Wife. I always wrote it off as a campy, wannabe detective show. It sometimes does feel a touch light, but that comes with the chemistry of Rock Hudson and Susan St. James. Hudson is the epitome of coolness much like he was in Pretty Maids All in a Row...except without the mustache. What's refreshing is how candid the on-screen married couple are about their sex life. None of that sleeping in separate beds business as these two are hungry for action.

    Every now and then I watch through a season of Mannix for my regular daily viewing. I'm just about done with season 7 which leaves only one more season, but I'll happily state that it must be the most consistent show I've ever seen. Most shows fluctuate in quality, especially the longer they run. The earlier seasons are a little rough compared to the middles seasons while the later ones feel worn out. Not so with Mannix. The quality changes little if ever. It's almost like comfort food to me as I know what to expect when I put it on. Plus, it ran from 1967-1975 and at a time when fashion and slang developed yet it feels constant from the first season throughout. It's dated when compared to anything today, but it doesn't feel dated when compared to itself. If that makes sense.






    There's tons more shows out there to talk about like Rockford Files, S.W.A.T, Starsky & Hutch, Magnum P.I., Miami Vice, etc., but I'm going to end on one of my favorites: Columbo. If you've never seen it, it takes a different approach to the format. Each episode (filmed like a movie) begins as the audience watches a killer commit the crime. Columbo then tries to solve it while he and the suspect play a game of wits. There's not really any action to speak of, but it's so damn entertaining due to Peter Falk as Columbo and the various guest stars. Some of my favorites would be Leonard Nimoy, Robert Culp, Dick Van Dyke, and Donald Pleasence. Pleasence plays such a sympathetic man driven to wits end that it's nice to see him in a change from the usual horror movie roles.

    Anyone else a fan of it or any other shows? What about when growing up? Any and all discussion is welcome!


  • #2
    If you mention crime or cop shows, new or old, still have to say The Wire. It has to be mentioned.
    Firm Believer in the Philosophy of a Ruling Class.
    Because I rule!

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