Technically not speaking a crime series, Haven centres on Audrey Parker, an FBI Agent who shows up in a crazy little town called Haven where weird stuff happens all the time. She partners up with Nathan, a police officer who can’t feel any physical stimuli and sometimes Duke, a shifty dude who lives on a boat and is played by the guy who died in the first episode of Buffy. Sorry Eric dude, that’s how I’m always going to remember you, no matter how many bit parts you have in everything else I watch.
Haven is plagued by “troubles”, mysterious events that reoccur every few years that awaken some scary superpowers in its residents. Audrey and the boys try and work out what people’s troubles are, how they’re caused and how to stop them. It also stars one Adam Copeland. The first episode he showed up in I was wracking my brains where the hell I’d seen him before. He’s a giant beast of a dude so I was pretty sure I had seen him in something, except he was listed in the credits as Adam Copeland. Took me a bit, but of course I’d seen him before – He’s The Edge from WWE! I’ve seen those buns in skimpy tights zillions of times. The name and the haircut threw me off momentarily. He wears too many clothes in this series though.
There’s some conspiracies, secret organisations to protect people with troubles/superpowers, the Colorado Kid mystery (a dead dude nobody knows who he is) and a bit of romance. Nathan has been crushing on Audrey big time since he found out that of all the people in the entire world, she is the only person who’s touch he can feel. Actually, she’s the only thing he can feel full stop. Duke seemed a likely love interest for a time and Audrey had it off with Jason Priestley for a while. He has not aged as well as Luke Perry, but then I never liked him anyway. Everyone seems to have their own scary secrets which pop out of the woodwork at odd moments to surprise everyone and make life complicated.
Audrey is also on a mission to find out who she is, after learning *SPOILER* she’s not the real Audrey Parker. Turns out, she just has someone else’s name and memories. Yeah. Crazy shit huh? Just when you think you get an answer you get 40 more questions. It infuriates me, but then I also have not read Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid which it was based on.
#4 SHERLOCK (BBC/MOFFAT VERSION)
Where to start on this. It’s Sherlock Holmes! Of course it’s a fantastic mystery show. Duh! And the annoyingly brilliant titular character is played by a dude named Benedict Cumberbatch! Benedict Cumberbatch! Seriously, did his parents actively try and find the most ridiculously toff name? Luckily he’s British and presumably has a stiff upper lip because he would have been slaughtered for that name in an Australian primary school.
Martin Freeman, self confessed ‘geek royalty’ stars as Sherlock’s mostly bewildered offsider, Dr John Watson.
The show follows the interaction of John and Sherlock and their peculiar relationship as they go about solving mysteries and generally proving how brilliant Sherlock is to people, even though they think he’s insane and possibly a touch of a narcissistic criminal himself. It’s a curious one. Some say that Sherlock is gay and the only person in the world he could love is John, but then people also said that Frodo and Sam’s relationship was homoerotic as well (I didn’t buy that).
It’s jaw-droppingly awesome to watch Sherlock reduce an entire person down to their base in a blisteringly cruel, yet detached observational manner. He’s a man who thrives on details and has little purpose for those who he believes to be of lesser intelligence than him. Enter John Watson, someone who he tolerates and perhaps sees as having the potential to be as great as he.
The story and dialogue has it’s poignant and humorous moments, crafted by Steven Moffat, who will forever live in my mind as the creator and writer of perhaps (snigger) the greatest comedy show on the planet, Coupling. If you’re a fan of British humour (and you must be because otherwise you’re an alien and wouldn’t be wasting your time reading this) you need to do yourself a favour and check it out.
My one criticism is that Sherlock sometimes talks way too fast for me to understand and I have to keep skipping back to make sure I don’t miss any important information. Given that I tend to watch it late at night after I’ve finally put the kid to bed and cooked dinner, it might just be me.
#3: CRIMINAL MINDS
Criminal Minds is a fantastic ensemble cast. Originally led by Inigo Montoya, he of “you killed my father, prepare to die” fame and possibly a stint on some medical show that I never watched, Criminal Minds follows a group of people who work for the Behavioural Analysis Unit at the FBI. I don’t even know if that’s a thing. But Aussies don’t have the FBI, we have ASIO. I don’t know anything about that either. They solve crimes by identifying patterns in victims, behaviour, geography and focus on a strong psychological analysis to identify and catch killers, which is what makes it so refreshing from so many other crime shows.
Each member of the cast brings their own quirks and expertise to form a tight, cohesive unit, which got broken a little bit when Inigo Montoya buggered off to the great wherever he went after he got depressed. All the cast have experienced some pretty awesome highs and lows and there’s been great room for personal development. JJ, like Angela from Bones, gets married and has a kid, but unlike the writers of Bones, they haven’t just shoved the kid into the background to pull out at convenient moments, but it’s clear to see how having a child has affected JJ and influences her choices. Hotchner, the leader of the little group since Inigo’s hissy fit, has had an unhappy marriage, a divorce, his ex-wife murdered and started dating again. I never understood the relationship he had with his very-ex wife. She married him fully cognizant of the fact that he was a senior field agent who’s presence may literally be life and death for the people he’s trying to save, and she has the temerity to bitch that he travels? She knew what she was getting into when she married him, so I have no sympathy for her whining. I’d have happily married him and borne his babies with no complaint.
The relationship between Garcia, the vivacious computer geek and Morgan, the hot agent is a complicated tangle of whimsy, genuine care and over the top flirtation and young dorky Spencer Reid can’t catch a damn break in his personal life.
This is one of the few shows that has a tendency to actually wound me with their storylines. There was an episode I watched when I was alone in Adelaide and 5 months pregnant, where a bunch of kids had gone missing. One kid had gone missing 8 years prior and the mother was convinced he was alive and was relentless in her struggle to get someone to believe her. Turns out he was and some assholes were nicking kids and keeping them as their own, killing them by sticking them in a coffin and burning them alive in their crematorium when they misbehaved. The heartbreaking scene when one kid died trying to save the latest kidnappee slayed me, and then when all of the parents of the missing children were gathered and one of the other children told these grieving parents who’s child had been missing for years that he was alive until the day before and he died protecting a young kid… holy crap I cried for like a week. It was totally my hormones.
Technically not a crime-solving show, Leverage focuses on a motley bunch of reformed criminals who unite to run a big scam on a dude who screws them all over by using them to do his dirty work, not paying them and then trying to kill them. They eventually decide to use their powers for good and offer their services to people who need help who can’t necessarily get help or justice through regular channels.
Sophie, played by Gina Bellman, is an unapologetic grifter with a penchant for pinching art. She has grand illusions of being an amazing actor, but she totally sucks at conventional acting. Ask her to run a con on someone by acting as anyone from a dirty hippie to a duchess from anywhere in the world, and she’ll have talked you out of all your life savings in a second. Her accents are amazing, one of the few people I’ve heard to pull off an Australian one without sounding like she’s South African instead.
Parker, played by Beth Riesgraf, is a money hungry thief with limited understanding of social conventions. She’s also described as a psychopath a lot and has a mad penchant for jumping off high places. Hardison is a mega hacker who doubles as an artist and the mastermind, Nate is an alcoholic ex-insurance investigator who hates the world because his son died of a rare disease that his insurance company refused to pay for treatment for. Forget chips on his shoulders, this dude is carrying railroad sleepers.
Eliot (Christian Kane) is the enigma. He’s got a background in Special Forces, or something like that (lots of mystery). He’s got a reputation for doing lots of killing, single handedly dispatches whole armies with his bare hands and likens knifing people with chef skills (he cooks!). He’s bad tempered, prone to violence, yet loves his friends. We’re also having an illicit affair most nights (unless Dean Winchester gets over his daddy issues). See, I’m somewhat of a pastry chef myself and I’m also trained in MMA fighting (Ok, so I’m actually only learning, not proficient) and have a bad temper. The way I see it, we’d be perfect together!
Leverage takes the bad guys and makes them good guys, who then use all their bad guy skills to mess with badder guys. I love a good con story and the crux of the con, the thing that is most crucial to it’s success, isn’t always revealed until the end. The last season involved some pretty heavy shark jumping though, so I’m glad it ended where it did before it got too over the top with the crazy schemes. The best episodes were the ones where Eliot kicked heads (all of them) and they relied on some simple hacking, some conning, some thievery and the predictability of the big bad of the week. The ones that got too complicated with the computer stuff were awful (like when they convinced a guy he was flying a plane, or that a guy was dreaming).
Oh and did I mention that a certain Mark Sheppard keeps popping up as a self-serving, smug bastard of an insurance investigator/Interpol agent? If you stick around, you’ll learn how much I love this guy.
#1 BURN NOTICE
This is THE quintessential crime show. A spy who’s had a burn notice issued against him (the spy equivalent of getting fired from the only job that’s going to ever hire you) is dumped in Miami. His ex-IRA ex-girlfriend is still listed as his in case of emergency, he’s got an ex-Navy Seal mate hanging around who spies on him for the FBI and his chain smoking, guilt tripping mother to contend with as he tries to work out what the hell just happened and how to get them back. Without reciting the title into (because I am so lame I can), he takes on whatever work he can find, usually the kind that requires his particular skill set, and enlists the aid of the abovementioned people to help him in his quest to find the truth and take down some low-level baddies along the way.
This show is fantastic. It’s got explosions and Bruce Campbell, which is everything I need in a TV show. If you don’t know who Bruce Campbell is, just get out. Seriously. Bruce Campbell is THE MAN. Bruce Campbell is Sam Axe, a past his prime ex-Navy Seal who just wants to find a rich sugar mama and drink mojitos while delivering some wicked snark, until his stupid friend Michael Westen gets a burn notice.
I don’t like Michael Westen, I will make this very clear. His quest for revenge takes some dark turns, he constantly manages to put his mother in the line of fire and has the emotional maturity of a stick. Michael is brilliant at what he does, he’s an excellent spy and some of the cool stuff he’s done has been backed up by Mythbusters as actually being feasible. Jeffrey Donovan’s voice gives me the shits. He only speaks in a monotone and since he does the damn voiceovers every week “When you’re a spy… blah blah, exposition on what he’s doing and why it works” I can’t escape it. His mouth barely moves when he talks and his lips are too pink.
Sam Axe on the other hand, holy mother, let me at him. Calm under pressure, just as skilled as Michael, suave, sophisticated, great taste in drinks, would bend over backwards for a friend and absolutely hilarious. Plus, he’s Bruce Campbell, Mr Chin himself. Still attractive at whatever age he is, and hilarious to follow on Twitter. Guy has a picture for every occasion. He even tweeted me back once, I can die happy.
Fi, Michael’s ex-turned-current girlfriend is awesome too, despite her retarded infatuation with him. She loves to blow things up which endears her to me, almost as much as the fact that she’s played by Gabrielle Anwar, because The Three Musketeers was my favourite movie as a kid. She’s a bit on the skinny side, but anyone who looks that damn muscular after popping out three kids has my respect. I’m wrecked after one, three would turn me into the Blob.
So to sum up, these are the best shows out there. I encourage you to at least check out Burn Notice. Even if you don’t love Bruce Campbell (in which case we need to re-evaluate our friendship), there’s still lots of interesting little twists and turns and backstabs and OMG! moments, plus I’ve unashamedly stolen one or two little spy tricks they’ve used and wrote them into one of my books.
Feel free to share your views on the above shows, or suggest some new ones for me since none of the above are currently playing at the moment 🙂