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Best TV Crime Drama Shows, Characters and Teams
Of all of the different types of television shows that are out there, the only ones that really have the power to continually suck me in again and again are the crime dramas. From the long-established Law and Order to shows that are no longer on (like the Practice) to the new kids on the block (Raising the Bar), these legal/ courtroom/ crime investigation shows always compel me to tune in even when other types of TV just don’t do anything at all for me.
There are dozens of these TV crime dramas out there. Which ones are the ones that are actually worth the time that they take to watch? In my opinion, the best television crime shows are those shows that have the following qualities:
• Intelligence. I really love the crime drama shows that assume that their viewers have some kind of intelligence. The math in Numb3rs, the science in Bones and the psychological profiling in Criminal Minds are all examples of shows that appeal to the smart side of the viewer.
• Compelling stories. I love the crime shows that really feel like they are drawn from real life but also have some element that gives them a twist and keeps them interesting. Law and Order SVU has done a good job with that over the years – tackling numerous interesting social topics including female-of-male rape cases, transgender issues and political power plays within prisons.
• A great cast. As far as I’m concerned, none of these elements of a great crime drama show would be very good at all if the cast wasn’t great. There are some legal shows that just bore me because I can’t develop any interest in or empathy for the characters that come on day after day. Although the crime show should be primarily about solving crimes, there should also be some reason that you want these specific characters to succeed in their crime fighting jobs.
With that last point in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best characters that have been created for crime TV. I’m going to focus specifically on those shows that have done a terrific job of developing multiple great characters, creating superb crime-fighting partnerships and teams that really add to the psycho-social enjoyment of watching these shows. Here are some of my favorites:
• Bones and Booth.
Bones is a really interesting crime drama that’s unique from a lot of the other legal / crime shows on television today. It pairs the work of a forensic anthropologist and crime author (Temperance “Bones” Brennan) with the work of a tough FBI / military guy (Booth). These two characters play off of each other so well that they make for one of the most interesting crime fighting partnerships on TV. Bones is logical, scientific and socially awkward. Booth is tough, macho but with a charming sensitive side. They teach each other things and we get to learn from them as viewers watching them solve their crimes. The surrounding cast members also add to the great team on this crime fighting show but it’s the solid partnership and middling sexual tensions between the two main characters that make this a stand-out TV crime drama.
• Detectives Benson and Stabler.
Another great male/female team that really makes you want to keep watching a show for years on end is the core team from Law and Order SVU. They’re an interesting pair. She’s the child of a rape who has grown up with some serious issues around relationships and power plays. He’s a tough, Catholic father of many with issues of his own. These issues aren’t the core focus of the show but they get revealed over time which makes you more emotionally invested in understanding their partnership. And an interesting partnership it is – there never seems to be any question that it’s a platonic relationship but they are totally there for each other and helping one another to be better than they seem to be. Through this partnership, they fight crime and save kids. The rest of the cast pales in comparison to the two core folks on this long-running television crime drama.
• The Eppes Brothers.
A great crime fighting partnership doesn’t have to be made up of a male/female combo. The Eppes brothers from Numb3rs have a really interesting dynamic that makes the show fun to watch. Charlie is a math genius who was always overshadowed by his more normal, popular brother Don. Don, in turn, was always cheated out of being intellectually special. These two have worked for years to solve crimes using their separate skills sets and long-time viewers have watched their personal and professional relationship grow over time which really adds to the ongoing story of the crime fighting show.
• The team from Criminal Minds.
This is one show in which there isn’t a partnership that really makes the show great but rather a terrific mingling of different personalities within the larger team. There’s the young genius with the photographic memory and socially awkward ways, the alt/sexy computer kitten who can flirt like nobody’s business but also get into any computer system in the world, the good looking muscle man with a bit of a rough edge, the team leaders who struggle with the politics of the job and their own inner demons and the female liaisons who work with the outside world in solving some of the most horrific crimes shown on TV. This is a show based on the psychology of crime so it makes sense that it only works because it has a psychology balanced (and fascinating) crime fighting team and its helm.
• The team from The Practice.
This show may not be on the air anymore but the old episodes are still fun to watch due in no small part to the fact that there was a cool team of people on this show. They all work as defense lawyers and each struggles in their own way with the ethics of that work. The leader of the show, Bobby Donnell, serves as the core character through which we see the other characters on the show develop. From the sexy district attorney and the cute constitutionally-knowledgeable lawyer that Donnell sleeps with to the tougher female and male lawyers in the office, we see personalities explode day after day under the pressures of dealing with criminals.
So there you have it, some of my favorite television crime dramas and the cast behind them that makes me so interested in continuing to watch these shows again and again and again!
- Numb3rs: Watch Full Episodes and Video and Join the Ultimate Fan Community - CBS.com
Watch full episodes and video, browse photos and join the ultimate fan community for Numb3rs.
- Law & Order Special Victims Unit
Home page for SVU.
- Criminal Minds: Watch Full Episodes and Video and Join the Ultimate Fan Community - CBS.com
Watch full episodes and video, browse photos and join the ultimate fan community for Criminal Minds.
- Watch Crime TV on Hulu
Links to the video clips and full episodes of numerous crime TV shows on Hulu.
- Wikiquote list of TV Crime Shows
Links to information about a bunch of crime shows on TV.
- Fox Broadcasting Company: Bones
Home page for the show Bones.