Top TV Detective Shows

Frank Avis by | March 22, 2015 | Television

Which moves nicely into another BEST EVER list, in this case My TOP TV DETECTIVE SHOWS.
Here's another entry in my favourite one-liners, this one I think might be from Inspector George Gently...

Sergeant: "I woke up this morning alongside a complete stranger."

Inspector: "Some men pay money for that..."

Which moves nicely into another BEST EVER list, in this case My TOP TV DETECTIVE SHOWS.

PRIME SUSPECT: The greatest achievement in TV crime with Helen Mirren's DCI Jane Tennison the ultimate triumph of the genre. She drinks too much, her personal relationships are a permanent disaster zone and she is constantly undermined by her male colleagues but Jane just ploughs on and goes after the bad guys. Complex and dark plots along with astonishing casting makes this a masterpiece. And, of course, there's Helen.

WAKING THE DEAD: Trevor Eve as Boyd bestrides this Cold Case series along with the best ensemble group in the business - Grace, Spencer, Mel, etc. Wonderful script – even the pauses are brilliant – with the one reservation that the scriptwriter has fallen into the NYPD BLUE syndrome (see below) by introducing Boyd's lost son. Pity he didn't stay lost. Fantasists like me live for the day a Producer puts Tennison and Boyd together in the same series. We'd settle for just the one episode really.

NYPD BLUE: Take me back to the old days when David Caruso ruled the Big Apple like a TV God, dispensing justice, along with the much loved Andy Sipowicz. Such an iconic series 'til the writers forgot the golden rule which says IT'S THE CRIME NOT THE CAST. Once they started concentrating on the detectives NYPD BLUE turned into just another soap opera, albeit a good one. The other minus is how American TV producers can't help themselves, with every female detective looking like Lana Turner. With female officers who look like this, criminals would have to be lining up to get arrested.

LAW AND ORDER: Jerry Orbach goes from singing Try to Remember in Fantasticks to creating the wise-cracking, world-weary Det. Lenny Briscoe who partners up with the golden boy Benjamin Bratt to track down a wonderful assortment of scumbags. But the courtroom scenes became a bit repetitive and I kept muttering out loud, "Less law, more order."

INSPECTOR MORSE: Everybody's favourite with the Oxford-educated opera and crossword tragic John Thaw constantly chiding and correcting the grammar of his trusty off sider Sgt. Lewis. He's erudite, drives a Jag, spends too much time at the local ale house but is still there when it counts, chasing those murderers. And there's no shortage of them in Oxford, just quietly.

LEWIS: The follow-up series after the death of Morse and dare I commit sacrilege and say this is actually better. The scripts are brilliant and the partnership of Lewis – who is becoming more and more like Morse with each passing episode – and Hathaway (affectionately nick named "Tthe Boy Wonder") is an absolute treasure. Theirs is one of the most endearing TV partnerships of the era.

JESSE STONE: I'm going to put it in writing... This is one of my great favourites of recent years... A wonderful surprise. Tom Selleck, who co-writes the series, is at his absolute peak starring in this series which offers some really quirky one liners, re-run to great humourous effect in each episode... eg. "And how do YOU feel about that?", "I really like you Jesse," and, "the information is out there... All you have to do is let it in." If you get the chance to watch this show might I just offer the advice... "Let it in." You will love Tom as Jesse Stone. Oh ,and as you develop into a devotee just note how Jesse and his dog start looking more like each other with each passing week.

WALLANDER: This is the British version but still full of Scandinavian angst with Kenneth Branagh in mesmerising touch as the intrepid detective. You want dark... Ken'll give you dark. But you'll be totally hooked from the first 10 minutes.

THE KILLING: More Scandinavian angst, this time straight from Denmark with Sarah Lund heading this cult classic.

DCI BANKS: Really underrated with Stephen Tomkinson terrific as the team leader trying to stay one step ahead of his two senior female investigators, both wonderful characters.

Speaking of angst the domestic political situation gets more bizarre by the week. First we had the local factions ripping the NSW ALP to pieces in full public view. Then Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard fought The Battle of the Gladiators at the national level, virtually destroying the Labor brand.

There we were with Kevin, Julia, Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten parading in front of the Coalition Government, each carrying a large placard reading DON'T DO WHAT WE DID.

So what did the LNP do this year? Yes, they launched their own civil war, undermining the Prime Minister and forcing the party to consider a leadership vote. They did exactly what they were warned not to do.

So here we are needing a Government to move into Federal office and tackle the economic-social disaster which we call Australia and what do they do? Good luck Tony.

This is THE MOST ENTITLED NATION ON THE PLANET. How many countries, do you think, actually pay women to have babies?

Australian wages are 30% higher than they should be and subsequently. Our houses, cars, food and just about anything else you can think is also 30 percent higher. We can't make anything here because our production costs are 30% higher than our competitors, woops... sorry.. our trading partners.

So we've turned into importing junkies. And we're going to keep doing it whatever it takes.

Anything to keep our living standard up to the level to which we love being accustomed.

Australia will sell what's in the water, what's under the water, we'll sell what's growing in the land and what we can mine under the land. To hell with it, we'll sell the land itself if we have to.

We want it all... We want it now. But the Era of Entitlement – fuelled by what Nick Cater calls The Age of Paternalism - is going to come to an end, I suspect with a hard landing.

Sooner or later societies find out that life usually ends up being defined by individual and community responsibility. Anyone with doubts about this economic theory should immediately go to the computer and Google "Greece".

And could you give me a double check on an unusual affectation which I see increasingly on British TV... Not just in the entertainment sector but more and more with real life people being interviewed in News and Current Affairs.

The "t" is disappearing from modern English-speak.

It's not "what" anymore... It's "wa" (goodbye to the t). Bottle becomes "bo'ell". Metal is "me'ell", and kettle is "ke'ell". Last night a character referred to his friend as "Pe'er".

This is getting perilously close to French.

Oh, and radio fans please note: I've been invited to an industry reunion this month with several well known attendees. I'll keep you posted on the next edition of my Memoirs, coming soon.


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This is the history of radio newsman Frank Avis who worked in the Australian electronic media from 1954 to 1996.


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