My Top Ten Mystery/Crime Shows: Part One

It’s no secret I am addicted to television and as my love of mystery would suggest, crime shows in particular. I take great pleasure in ruining everything for my husband by telling him exactly what the twists are going to be within the first 10 minutes. He should have learned by now that if he wants a peaceful viewing experience he should muzzle me. However I’d then refuse to feed him dinner and since he can barely cook a microwave meal without mulling over the instructions for half an hour, I get to wreck it for him night after night. We’ve turned it into a game now, to see who can solve the mystery and identify clues and red herrings before it’s apparent that’s what they are. I usually win.

See here for a previous post about issues I have with crime shows. I also show some Nathan Fillion love.

I have ranked my favourites thus:

#10: BONES

Emily Deschanel & David Boreanez as Brennan & Booth (Source: Fanpop)

Emily Deschanel & David Boreanez as Brennan & Booth (Source: Fanpop)

Socially inept but brilliant forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan teams up with overgrown man-child FBI agent Seeley Booth to solve crimes. Brennan is abrasive and rude, failing to pick up on even the most basic of social cues despite studying these sorts of things for a career and Booth is her antithesis, cocky and charming. Together with Brennan’s staff at the fictional Jeffersonian, the adorable and excitable conspiracy theorist Hodgins, carefree whimsical artist Angela (who somehow also doubles as a computer genius) and the equally socially inept and awkward young intern Zach Addy they begin to function as a team to solve crimes based on forensic analysis of bones, ‘bugs and slime’ and facial and crime-scene reconstruction.

I give it last place because frankly it’s been going downhill for a while. They lost my die-hard enthusiasm at the end of season three when Zach Addy departed under the most ridiculous of circumstances. That particular story line made absolutely zero sense and to have the vast conspiracy debunked in three sentences by a coldly clinical Brennan insulted the intelligence of every viewer, and especially Zach, who was supposed to be beyond supersmart. The bromance between him and Hodgins was one of the best aspects of the show. Replacing him with a rotating roster of interns for the remaining seasons seemed to work as viewers seemed to have found a ‘replacement Zach’ that was their favourite. Until mine was unceremoniously murdered by Imhotep from The Mummy in a total bastard act. It also gets last place because after 8 seasons, the characters are now basically caricatures of themselves. Brennan, despite showing promising signs of growing emotional and social maturity and having been through the realisation that she’s in love and even having a child, is still as abrasive and rude as ever, Booth’s boyish exuberance and temper tantrums are just annoying and I don’t care about any of the interns. Angela and Hodgins got married and had a baby that was promptly forgotten unless it was necessary for Angela to give advice to an idiot Brennan. I watched some more of season 8 this weekend and just wasn’t inspired to keep going. Stick with the first three seasons, stop by the end of season 6. Don’t even get me started on that fucking ridiculous Pelant storyline.

#9: BODY OF PROOF

Body of Proof Cast: Windell Middlebrooks, Jeri Ryan, Geoffrey Arend, Dana Delaney, Nicholas Bishop, Sonja John and John Carroll Lynch

Body of Proof Cast: Windell Middlebrooks, Jeri Ryan, Geoffrey Arend, Dana Delaney, Nicholas Bishop, Sonja John and John Carroll Lynch

I’d have liked to give this a higher rating, but the other shows are just better. The only reason I had even heard of this show was because I follow Jeri Ryan on Twitter. I think she’s fantastic so I decided to give it a try. Dana Delaney is fabulous as a former neurosurgeon whos career took a dive after a car accident left her with parasthesia and she killed a patient. She’s lost custody of her child (“A woman who works 18 hours a day is an absentee mother; a man who does the same is a good provider”) and now works as a medical examiner. She’s also abrasive and rude and can be incredibly arrogant, but I find I quite like it in her character – she’s just that convinced of her own superiority and she’s almost always right. It’s refreshing to see that kind of trait in a woman and see how it causes her some serious roadblocks when it comes to trying to rebuild her relationship with her daughter and making friends with the people around her. Usually when a man is an arrogant cock people just fall at his feet because they respect him – in a woman it’s a far less likeable trait.

Also have you seen Dana Delaney? Bitch is 56! How is that even possible? Comic relief banter is provided by Windell Middlebrooks and Geoffrey Arend, both of whom I find adorable. Nicholas Bishop’s character Peter kind of annoys me, but that might have something to do with the fact that he was on Home and Away. Despite being Australian I absolutely loathe that show with an unholy passion and everyone who was ever on it (unless their surname is Hemsworth). Jeri Ryan will never do wrong in my eyes (remember, I’m a nerd and she was in Star Trek).

Towards the end of the second season it gets quite good – the storyline with the epidemic (with an appearance by one Luke Perry who I always preferred to Jason Priestley)  was great and there’s a high likelihood Peter’s going to die which pleases me. Sorry dude. His girlfriend got killed off in the epidemic story-arc so he might as well just exit gracefully while I have some semblance of empathy for him. Some things shit me, like the fact that Dana Delaney doesn’t tie her hair up during an autopsy (knowing what real autopsies are like this is a big turn off) and all the chicks wear heels, but that’s standard for most female characters on television. Me? I can’t even wear a pair of heels out drinking without getting blisters that kill me for weeks, let alone stand up in them all day, every day.

#8: CASTLE

Ahh, irreverent Nathan Fillion. I mean, Richard Castle. *cough*

Ahh, irreverent Nathan Fillion. I mean, Richard Castle. *cough*

Castle should really just be called “Firefly got canned and everyone loves Nathan Fillion”. Richard Castle, bazillionaire author, meets hard boiled detective Kate Beckett when people start getting killed the way he’s described in his books. He’s impressed at the way she handles herself during the investigation which he tags along on as an ‘expert’ and has his buddy the Mayor pull some strings so he can follow her around on more cases because he’s found a muse for his new crime series. He comes with a freeloading but charming mother, a precocious and intelligent daughter who is his life, a slew of ex-wives, ex-girlfriends and one night stands and is a total charming rogue. He’s what we all love about Nathan Fillion. He comes up with interesting insights and refreshingly madcap theories about murders (so basically it means I’m not the only one who does this) and navigates the world of police procedure and a prickly partner he’s falling in love with. Charming sidekicks Ryan and Esposito provide more comic relief and also have a sweet bromance (I’m noticing a theme!) to counteract the maddening will-they-won’t-they of Castle and Beckett. Ugh. I could really have done without the love aspect. I prefer Castle being the insufferable playboy with a secret heart of gold. Shut up, I miss Firefly. Should Christina Hendricks show up to wreck things between them it would totally make my day (although Geoffrey Arend up there is the lucky sod who is actually married to her).

#7: NCIS

Brian Dietzen, Pauley Perrette, David McCallum, Cote de Pablo, Mark Harmon, Rocky Carroll, Sean Murray & Michael Weatherly (Source: CBS)

Brian Dietzen, Pauley Perrette, David McCallum, Cote de Pablo, Mark Harmon, Rocky Carroll, Sean Murray & Michael Weatherly (Source: CBS)

Where to start with this one? Everyone knows it. It’s just been renewed for an 11th season so it shows no signs of slowing down. It’s the very definition of an ensemble cast which is why I think it works so well. That and the fact that none of the cast are safe. The writers have clearly taken a lesson from George R R Martin in killing off important characters. Poor Kate, my husband never really got over that. There’s Gibbs, the mysterious boss with the magical gut feeling and tragic past, DiNozzo the playboy man-child with daddy issues, Ziva the ex-Mossad agent who speaks a zillion languages and kicks butt also with daddy issues, McGee the computer geek they make fun of who’s a secret success, Abby the ‘goth’ lab scientist who is eternally cheerful and overly generous, Ducky the medical examiner who’s got a story about everything and his protege, the dorky Jimmy.

Watching a lot of episodes back to back can be a little grating when they all start the same way, with McGee, Ziva and DiNozzo bickering and Gibbs sensing the most inappropriate time to enter the room to say “Gear up, we got a dead (insert navy rank) in (insert town). There’s a lot of small repetitive things in each episode, such as referring to one of Gibbs’ ‘rules’ or Gibbs smacking someone on the back of he head or standing behind them when someone is saying what a prick he is. It’s generally well done and I actually think that they’re doing on purpose a lot of times rather than suffering from a lack of original material. It can be predictable at times, but it’s always within the realms of possibility and fun.

All of the characters undergo their fair share of tragedies and triumphs and experience some modicum of personal growth. And when the storylines get stagnant they can just kill off someone else, or threaten to. At the end of season 9 I nearly punched the television when they gave Ducky a heart attack. I’ve not had such a visceral reaction to a character’s alleged demise outside of a book. It’s possible that it may have upset me more than usual as I’d just celebrated my grandfather’s 80th birthday and David McCallum is the same age. The other unusual thing about NCIS is that it’s the fountain of youth. Working on this show must be the showbiz equivalent to drinking the blood of virgins. David McCallum does not look anywhere near 80, Mark Harmon is 62 and there’s not a woman on this planet that wouldn’t go a round with Gibbs regardless of her age, Pauley Perrette is 43 and despite them both looking like fresh-faced newbies, Sean Murray and Brien Dietzen are the babies at 35. Now if Pauley Perrette had a baby with the guy who plays Nolan on Revenge who is apparently 40, it’s highly likely science would discover the key to eternal life.

6: WHITE COLLAR

Willie Garson, Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay & Tiffani Thiessen (source: USA)

Willie Garson, Matt Bomer, Tim DeKay & Tiffani Thiessen (source: USA)

My own personal idea of God, Matt Bomer (I’m so sorry if I accidentally type that as Boner, because that’s what I call him, objectifying tart that I am), stars as Neil Caffrey, an artist, con-man and thief who is reluctantly talked into assisting FBI Agent Peter Burke outwitting conmen, uncovering forgeries and generally operating slightly off-centre to catch baddies. This show gets away with any and all crimes against writing it may commit (which so far it hasn’t) purely because Tim DeKay will always be Jonesy from the criminally underrated Carnivale and Matt Bomer is awesome as the suave, sophisticated ladies man Neal, not to mention he embodies every physical trait I find attractive in a man, strong jaw, high cheekbones, dark hair and blue eyes (and if I squint and ignore the beard, my husband looks just like him).

This show gets lots of thumbs up from me because of the very delicate and complicated relationship between Peter and Neal coupled with the ease with which their offsiders interact with each other. Conspiracy theorist and paranoid nut Mozzie is Neal’s best friend develops a warm friendship with Elizabeth, Peter’s loving, understanding and sometimes badass wife, yet Peter and Neal’s relationship remains timidly trustful, coloured by sometimes rightful suspicion. The best part is that I love the cons. I love the set-ups, the mind games they play with marks and the heists. I find it fascinating the way they play off someones desires and ego against their better judgement and then take them down.

The storylines are always kept within the lines of believability, the U-boat heist was toying at the edges there, but Neal’s twinkly eyes persuaded me to look the other way. The effect he has upon women in the show is the same as in real life, I’m sure, but for the fact that he’s married to a dude. Which is cool. Obviously Matt Bomer is a great actor, because I honestly never picked up on that fact until I read it on some celebrity gossip blog. He and Neal Patrick Harris play the smoothest talking ladies men around yet they both are married to men. How come they don’t get showered with Oscars and praise like straight actors do when they ‘go gay’ for a role? It hardlty seems fair. It also doesn’t stop me objectifying him knowing he’s gay. He’s just a stunningly beautiful man.

Looks like Part Two will have to come another day. I didn’t realise I’d write this much. Coming up next post you will find: technically a sci-fi show, some love for Steven Moffat, another amazing ensemble cast, the identity of my secret fantasy lover and the penultimate B-lister who will always have my heart.

Have you ever seen these shows? Are you as frustrated with Bones as I am? Do you think Nathan Fillion should be on all the TV shows ever? Just how gorgeous IS Matt Bomer? And for the love of God, if you’ve seen Carnivale, TELL ME!

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