Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 26

A couple weeks back we asked about movie detectives, but those guys are one-case wonders. Let's talk about the guys who do it week after week.

Who is your favorite detective on television?

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

O.k. it worked for film so why not here. Private sector is Craig Stevens as Peter Gunn. How can you not like a suave, urbane dick who likes jazz? ;) Public Sector is Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect.

Panelist: ScottDS

Sledge Hammer (though I think he was officially an "inspector") from the satirical 80s TV show of the same name (played by David Rasche). Creator Alan Spencer (who had thought of the idea as a teenager) based the character on Clint Eastwood's Harry Callahan. Like Harry, Sledge works for the San Francisco Police Department and his best friend in the world is his .44 Magnum. He is completely over the top, downright sadistic at times, has no problem with gratuitous violence, and won't hesitate to bend or even ignore the rules. His partner is the lovely Dori Doreau (Anne-Marie Martin) who manages to see some redeemable qualities underneath Hammer's tough-as-nails exterior. Their boss is Captain Trunk (Harrison Page) who is often exasperated and prone to migraine headaches, thanks to Hammer's antics. The show aired from 1986 to 1988 and when I finally discovered it in 2004, my first thought was, "Why haven't I heard of this show before?!?!" The jazzy theme was composed by a young Danny Elfman and the show managed to parody everything from Witness to RoboCop. "Trust me. I know what I'm doing."

Panelist: AndrewPrice

So many good choices from Magnum P.I. to Sherlock Holmes. . . but I have to pick Peter Falk as Columbo. His mix of supreme cleverness and his willingness to bait his traps with humility is just fantastic. Add in that he’d probably be fun to grab a beer with and he’s the guy I would call in a pinch.

Panelist: BevfromNYC

James Franciscus in Longstreet. He was blond, blind, and had a great sense of smell! He was cuuute.

Panelist: T-Rav

I used to watch a lot of detective shows growing up; there are a lot I could name, but Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan in Diagnosis Murder is probably my favorite. He did a great job combining his comedic touch with the business of detective work. (Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote would be a very close second.)

Comments? Thoughts?


tryanmax said...

Detective shows aren't really my thing, but Peter Falk as Columbo jumps first to my mind. Most TV detectives don't strike me as people I'd want to know personally--they are usually rather abrasive in one way or another. But Columbo seems like a fun and amiable guy who just happens to solve crimes.

Anonymous said...

Man, I really need to edit down my answers!

Detective shows aren't really my thing either and I didn't want to answer with a TV show I've only seen once. Having said that, I recently watched my first Columbo episode, guest starring William Shatner as a TV detective who kills his producer and then takes a bizarre interest in solving his own case "in character." It's quite ridiculous. :-)

I had no idea as to how a typical episode was formatted so it came as a surprise that they showed the crime being committed and that the entertainment came from seeing Columbo put the clues together. To quote one of the show's creators, it's not a "whodunit" - it's a "howdhecatchem."

tryanmax said...

That is fairly unique to Columbo, isn't it? (not absolutely, but fairly) I think it works really well b/c the show is really about the character, anyway.

I think the reason I can't get into most detective shows is because, while a particular mystery may intrigue me, when a series is in question, it's the characters that need to bring me back. If it's some jerk solving the puzzle, I have no need for him once the puzzle is solved.

I wonder if that's why so many detective shows put a "Next time on ___" at the end?

Joel Farnham said...

The short lived Ellery Queen with Jim Hutton. I like that they always played fair with the audience. You saw all the clues necessary to reach a logical conclusion.

A very close second is Banacek with George Peppard. He played a smug insurance investigator from Boston. I like that they reconstructed seemingly impossible crimes at the end.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Crockett and Tubbs (or is that too much cop work? They were undercover as much as two metros driving a Ferrari can be) -- I'm an 80s kid. Miami Vice was great TV and Michael Mann was/is great.

I liked Quincy as a kid -- the original CSI.

Sentimental favorite -- Cheryl Ladd-era Charlie's Angels.

LawHawkRFD said...

Well, Raymond Burr inspired me to go into the practice of law with Perry Mason. Then he switched sides and became the police detective in Ironside. I really liked the show. Like James Franciscus in Longstreet (which was designed as the competition for Ironside), Burr had a handicap. In the pilot, he was shot by a bad guy, and throughout the series he had to work from a wheelchair. And of course, the show took place in San Francisco, so I could enjoy correcting them with cheap shots like "those streets don't cross each other!" I also admit I kept waiting for an episode where the bad buy would push Ironside down one of the City's famous hills. Like Bullitt, only different. LOL

And speaking of Huttons (Joel), I really liked the short-lived Nero Wolfe series with Maury Chaykin as Wolfe and Timothy Hutton (Jim's son) as his loyal assistant Archie. I thought it was far superior to the earlier version with William Conrad and Lee Horsley--much closer to the atmosphere created in the original Rex Stout stories. But as often happens, it got off to a slow start and the network killed it before it could develop a following.

Individualist said...

While Columbo would be a very good second choice I will have to go with Jim Rockford form the Rockford files. James Garner is classic. Also I like the fact that Rockford is just an eve3ryday Joe. No one is in fear or awe of him because he's that "great" detective.

Individualist said...

Of the characters on TV currently that I like I can only come up with Micael Weston of Burn Notice played by Jeffrey Donovan. I like that show and I think even though he is a CIA operative (former) the adventures he and Sam Axe and Fionna go on areset up somewhat like a PI. Still it is not exactly a detective show.

AndrewPrice said...

Hey folks, sorry I'm late. Scott, yes, editing is your friend! :)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I liked detective shows more before the modern era, when they were actual detectives rather than des ex machina scientists who just wait for the twist.

Columbo is one of the greats because you already knew who did it before he ever arrived on scene and the great part of the show was watching him solve the mystery, knowing what he didn't. That was pretty cool.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's absolutely true about Columbo, it's not a whodunit. But that also made the show very unique and it really put the focus on Falk's acting abilities. It also gives a much larger role to the guests than you usually get.

I'm not a fan of detective shows either anymore, but I used to be. I used to enjoy Magnum P.I., Hart to Hart, Simon and Simon, Kojak, and a whole bunch more. I even enjoyed Law and Order when it first came out. But these days, these shows are just too laughable.

DCAlleyKat said...

Law & Order CI's Detective Goren...intelligence, wit, and a bit if edgy insanity...I love him!!!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I can't get into modern detective shows because they're stupid. They've gone from interesting puzzles to laughable fantasies. Look at how often they pop onto the internet and instantly find the right person in a chatroom to give them the clue they need. Or even worse, how about the idea that there is a computer that can spot criminals before they comit crime? Huh? Yeah, that and fairy dust.

There is one exception though, I've really gotten into Dexter -- fascinating, well-written show. I should review that.

Also, you're right about the focus being on the character in Columbo. The same was true in Miami Vice where the crime wasn't even the issue, it was how the team went about their jobs and the relationship they had. That's what made it compelling.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Good call! I haven't seen those in years!

I am a HUGE believer in playing fair with the audience. The best writing comes from having to meet the challenges of being fair to the reader.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I was a huge fan of Crockett and Tubbs. That was a fantastic show. In fact, I had an English teacher at the time who used to diagram some of the episodes to show us how they were actually Shakespearean. Cool teacher.

Quincy! How could I forget Quincy! I can still recall the medical students passing out in the opening. That was a good show and it gave me a lot of good will for Jack Klugman.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, LOL! I can totally see them pushing down the same streets as in Bullitt!

I do that too, by the way, whenever they set a show somewhere I've lived, I find myself correcting their geography.

Anonymous said...

Scott, yes, editing is your friend!

You could've said that six months ago! (You probably did but you haven't said anything since. Not to mention my obsessive-compulsive need to provide context.) :-)

Re: detective shows today, I think I said this when we were discussing movie detectives:

1.) Today's technology has made it easier, and...

2. Are audiences too sophisticated or not sophisticated enough? Too sophisticated for a simple story about a simple purse snatcher, or not sophisticated enough to sit through a show that doesn't involve explosions and computer hackery.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, Rockford Files was a lot of fun. And you're right, it was an interesting show in that he wasn't anything special. It made him very relate-able.

I've only seen brief moments of Burn Notice. I like Bruce, but I just haven't had the time to watch it. I hear good things though.

AndrewPrice said...

DCAlleyKat, I stopped watching on all of the Law and Order series a long time ago, but I did like him a lot way back when. I thought D'Onofrio brought a real crazy to the role which made him stand out and made him interesting. He was a definite highlight of the show.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I suggested "short" on many occasions. But ultimately, it's up to you all to come up with answers you are comfortable with. That's how we roll... :)

I think, in truth, audience are not sophisticated. They think they are because they've finally caught on to the tricks used by the guys 50 years ago to solve crimes, but they are completely clueless when it comes to having the wool pulled over their eyes today.

In particular, they essentially believe in magic when it comes to investigations/ procedural shows.

There is no instant DNA test and there are no databases of DNA to run samples against to find a killer. Fiber analysis, car tread analysis, etc. is all so broad that it's meaningless unless you can lump together a bunch of coincidences. Profiling is a joke. It's hocus pocus. You can't predict crimes. Computers can't predict crimes. Lie detectors don't work, they just detect nervousness. You can't go on the internet and track people in anywhere near the detail they do regularly. Etc. etc.

Almost everything you see in modern detective shows is simply not possible in the real world. YET, modern audiences believe it hook line and sinker.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, I liked Law & Order: SVU until it turned into a propaganda vehicle for every leftist conception ever. That, and it turned into Lifetime on steroids.

tryanmax said...

Speaking of magic procedurals, one of my company's products was used as a prop on a recent episode of CSI in a way that is entirely impossible.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I thought all the L&O shows were great when they first began. But then they started running them every night or seemingly every night. Soon they were out of ideas and were just repeating everything wholesale. Then they started getting PC. That's the point they lost me.

CSI never had me because it's just so ridiculous.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's funny. What kind of product... if you can tell us?

BTW, having known both cops, investigators, and actual experts in various policing fields, I can assure you that most of what you see done on television is a misuse of how things are really done or used.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, are you saying this is ridiculous? :-D

Individualist said...


What I really like about Burn Notice is that while they use modern technology and spy techniques they tend to explain how it works.

When the character is doing something that is a secret spy technique he starts a voice over to explain why the popular coneption of the masses is wrong. Then he explains why doing what the character is doing in the show is the way to do it. It is like a little SPY 101 lesson.

I am not sure if all the techniques are valid but there is enough explaanation and thought that they at least seem reasonable.

Kenn Christenson said...

Beside Columbo and Rockford - two of my favorites - I'd have to say the re-imagined Sherlock Holmes from BBC's "Sherlock" is truly brilliant. Not only did they do a masterful job of translating the 19th century characters to the 21st - they managed to integrate them into clever stories which keep you riveted, while retaining what has always made this character's exploits so different from others in the genre.

T-Rav said...

CSI's early seasons were pretty good, but the more recent ones have been very weak and the leftist bias began showing through more and more. I think it's gotten a bit better this season with Ted Danson at the helm, but who knows.

Good choices, everyone! I think I have seen most of these shows at one time or another, and they're all fun to watch. My mom and grandparents also liked to watch Dragnet when it was on.

tryanmax said...

Oh, you know who I forgot? Chip 'n' Dale's Rescue Rangers! There's some quality detective work there.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That is absolutely brilliant... especially the DNA at the end! That entirely captures the level of ridiculousness I see in these shows -- and which people actually believe.

If you ever talk to the experts, you will be shocked how little of this applies in the real world. Even the "simple" things which are taken for granted on television aren't real.

And all of these tests they use to catch people are really only done AFTER THE FACT to confirm the guy they arrested.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I did not know that, but it sounds really fascinating! Especially if they are at all accurate. I'll have to give that one a shot. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, I've been ultra-impressed with the new Sherlock. At first, I thought it would be pretty lame, but they did a fantastic job of capturing the spirit of the original, moving it to the present, and giving you a gripping, fascinatingly unpredictable plot.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I love Dragnet! That's one of the first shows I can recall with attitude. It's just fun watching them play the roles, even beyond the story.

CSI never worked for me because it's just so overproduced and so over the top. Why do they work in the dark?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Yes, I was just about to mention Chip and Dale... LOL!

T-Rav said...

I LOVED Chip 'n' Dale! That was my favorite cartoon growing up; I cried more than once when I missed a new episode. (Keep in mind, I was six...ish.)

T-Rav said...

Andrew, back in the first season or two, the CSI lab used to look like a normal police station, with regular colors and everything. Now it's all just a weird, dim blue.

However, it's still much better than CSI:Miami. That show went full-on ridiculous a long time, and I ain't just talking about David Caruso's sunglasses.

Anonymous said...

I totally forgot about Chip 'n Dale! I forgot what they actually did in the show but I remember watching it.

As for Dragnet, it's one of those shows that always seemed to be on Nick at Night so even as a little kid, I'd keep it on after Get Smart ended. Even today, if I find myself with absolutely nothing to do for 25 minutes, I'll head on over to Hulu and watch an episode.

And even though it's a comedy, the Dragnet movie with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks is one of my guilty pleasures. "Pagans!!"

AndrewPrice said...

Chip 'n Dale on television must be after my time.

darski said...

Keep in mind that I haven't owned a TV set in more than 8 years...

I never met a detective show I didn't love. I admit that Murder She Wrote was probably my favourite because I just think AL is an A actess. Love her work. In Manchurian Candidate... nothing could touch her chilling performance so that her JBF is even more wonderful to see.

I also fondly remember Barnaby Jones. another case where the actor drives my enthusiasm.

One of the reasons I don't have a TV is L&O Special crimes - or whatever they called it. L&O had gotten very bad and SVU put that bad on steroids. it simply was not worth the price of admission for garbage when I could get the internet and be part of the solution.

But before that... does anyone remember "The Defenders" with Robert Reed and E.G. Marshall? Loved it back then but it was all lefty bleeding hearts in retrospect.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I've tried several times to get into CSI but it just never struck me as anything more than a series of high-impact images jammed together to mimic a plot. It was pure style and no substance.

I haven't seen CSI Miami because I don't like Caruso and I don't like CSI to begin with. But I could imagine they would try to one-up the original.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I've come around a bit on the Dragnet movie. It just seemed kind of bland when I saw it the first time, but it's better than my first impression gave it credit for being.

AndrewPrice said...

darski, I know the name "The Defenders" but I haven't seen the show.

I enjoyed Murder She Wrote at the time. I haven't seen it since. I liked Matlock too. But again, I haven't seen it in years. There were quite a few interesting detectives in the 1980s. I think, back then, they were trying to make their characters unique to draw you in. Today, I think they focus more on a procedural hook and that's why we get these group detectives.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, Chip 'n Dale had a brief stint as "detectives" in '89-'90. The premise is in the theme song

Sometimes, some crimes
Go slippin' through the cracks,
But these two gumshoes
Are pickin' up the slack.

tryanmax said...

I think, back then, they were trying to make their characters unique to draw you in. Today, I think they focus more on a procedural hook and that's why we get these group detectives.

I wonder what the economics of this change are? Seems like it would be cheaper to pay one star actor and a fistful of supporters that it would be to pay a star ensemble and the same fistful of supporters. Maybe the savings are in the writing staff?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Ah. I was in college at that point and didn't rally watch television for about two years. That's why I missed it.

Anonymous said...

I know he was an "inspector" but if we're talking about Chip 'n Dale, then we have to talk about Inspector Gadget! That was the cartoon I grew up with - I watched it every day and even though the episodes were very predictable, I still loved them. Gadget always managed to solve the case in spite of himself.

And then Disney had to make a live-action movie that wasn't very good.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think it goes back to risk. Television shows are very expensive to produce and they have a huge opportunity cost if they fail because the network will compare that failure to the ideal of what could have taken its slot.

So the corporate mentality says to minimize risk.

It's risky to hope that an actor's personality catches on with the public. There's just too much unpredictability there.

It's NOT risky to run a very generic police procedural show which emphasizes style over substance because we know people are transfixed by "the big shiny."

So you pick the shiny show and remove the quirky stuff because quirky = danger because people can get turned off by the quirky. Then you fill it with 5-6 actors and hope they all find their own individual fans, thereby reducing the risk of picking "the wrong actor" as you might if there was only one detective. And you adjust the show according to how the audience responds, i.e. give screentime to the actors who prove to be favorites.

Then, once you find a formula which works (e.g. CSI) you repeat it until you saturate the market -- CSI, CSI Miami, CSI Mexico City, NCSI, Moon CSI, Dream CSI.

And when it wears out, you bring in a new cast, change the name, change the locations again, and repeat all your old episodes with new actors.... and a "fresh" new show is born.

It's pure marketing.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I watched Inspector Gadget, plus Duck Tales and the one about the bears and with the plane, the name of which escapes me.

T-Rav said...

There's no case too big,
No case too small!
When you need help just call

Ch-ch-ch-chip and Dale
Rescue Rangers!
Ch-ch-ch-chip and Dale!

I went too far, didn't I?

Anonymous said...

I think that would be Tailspin. I didn't watch that one. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's the one. I watched it because it reminded me of a short-lived but truly inspired show called "Tales of the Gold Monkey."


Now that show needs to be remade... or made (as the case may be).

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Hmm. Possibly?

tryanmax said...

Duck Tales was good, as was quasi-spin-off Darkwing Duck.

AndrewPrice said...

Ah yes, Darkwing Duck. I liked that too.

rlaWTX said...

OK - I watch too much TV:
NCIS- Leroy Jethro Gibbs & crew
Justified- Marshal Raylan Givens
Criminal Minds- the BAU after Gideon (Patinkin) left
CSI:NY- Mac Taylor and Don Flack
Blue Bloods - Frank Reagan & family

Runners up:
Castle: he isn't a cop but he plays one
Hawaii 5-0: corny but fun
Human Target: too short-lived
NCIS:LA- it'll do
White Collar: fun

Old School:
Loved Magnum and Simon & Simon when I was a kid. And Miami Vice!
I was a sucker for cop and spy shows then and still am...
Wild, Wild West - saw this as a kid in syndication and loved, loved, loved it (baaaad movie)
Used to watch Perry Mason, never liked Murder, She Wrote or Diagnosis Murder - but I was the wrong demographic... Never appreciated Law & Order or NYPD Blue...

Tales of the Gold Monkey was mentioned - watched that one too - then Jake Cutter grew up and became the Seventh Heaven dad! :)

rlaWTX said...

my choices are personality driven... but also "law & order" with rare lefty sucker-punches (there, but rare)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I have heard really good things about Justified but haven't had a chance to catch the show yet.

Wild, Wild, West!!! Great show! Those were on every weekend in syndication when I was younger and I never missed them. What a fun and creative show! :)

Kit said...

For a while, Adrian Monk. Then the atrociously disappointing last season came . . .

Favorite detectives on tv?
Benadict Cumberpatch's Shelock is the best currently on tv.

Kate and Castle on CASTLE.

Do the chaps on NCIS count? If so, then Gibbs.

Kit said...

Greatest TV Detectives of All Time:

Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes and Kevin Conroy's Batman

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Holmes in any form is great and I agree with you about both Brett and Cumberpatch. Two very different presentations, but also two excellent presentations. I think the Cumberpatch version really shows that you can still make interesting and unique television detectives without having to fall into the procedural format.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Cannon! Who doesn't like to watch a fat detective chasing down young, track star shape perps? LOL!

But seriously, I loved Dragnet and Adam-12 (an offshoot of Dragnet showing what beat cops did.
Martin Milner, one of the cops went on to play a lot of bad guy roles.

And of course Columbo, Rockford Files, Banacek, Kojak, Magnum PI, Simon and Simon, Quincy (missed a lot of episodes of some of these due to Navy committments but am catching up with Netflix).

Present day I think Blue Bloods is the best network detective/cop show that isn't afraid to tackle a lot of difficult issues head on.
I like how the cop family characters talk about complex issues and often they have different opinions.

Plus, there hasn't been any of the usual leftist screeds on the show.
They do show liberal opinions but they counter with conservative and/or libertarian opinions which is quite refreshing.

I like Psyche for it's comedy and entertainment value but it has been hit and miss. Some episodes are very fun while others are flat.
Still worth watching and it has been copied a lot by the networks.

Monk was an outstanding series with lotys of LOL moments!

Andrew: I love Dexter! Highly addictive and entertaining and very well written! Lots of LOL moments in that one too.
Fascinating show.

Scott: I love Sledgehammer! I was sad to see it cancelled so soon.
Really fun show to watch.

Anonymous said...

I believe it's Cumberbatch. :-)

I've never seen an episode of Wild Wild West but I remember seeing the movie with my brother and neither of us thought it was as bad as everyone said it was.**

It came on TV recently and... yeah... it's bad. Talk about too many cooks in the kitchen, not to mention crazy producer Jon Peters, who was so obsessed with getting a mechanical spider into the aborted Superman Lives that he managed to put it in this film instead.

**I am compelled to point out that, as much as I don't care what critics think most of the time, sometimes critics and audiences are on the same page and it's a mistake to assume a movie will be good because critics hate it, or vice versa.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Sorry... CumberBatch. I didn't look it up before I typed my agreement.

I thought Wild Wild West the movie was incredibly disappointing. Not only was it not an interesting movie, but it wasted a great cast and it committed the cardinal sin of being much worse than the source material.

The original television show was cool and clever with great twists and turns and a neat premise. I recommend checking it out, especially as you like shows like Dragnet and Get Smart. This is a serious show, but it has a very similar "feel"/sensibility to other shows of the era like the two mentioned.

Anonymous said...

I just might check it out one day. :-)

I should also mention that I recently watched my first episode of (the original) Mission: Impossible. Netflix has most of them available for streaming.

Cool show! A little primitive by today's standards but I like its no-nonsense approach to storytelling, and you know I'm a sucker for gadgets. But the weird thing is, it's not even a "typical" detective/cop/spy show. It's really all one big con game, except the con artists are the good guys.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I hear good things about Blue Bloods and it would be pretty unique if it allows its characters to have multiple views -- normally group think is the order of the day unless someone has a mental problem.

I know a lot of people love Monk, but for one reason or another, I never got around to watching it -- bad timing mainly. So I never got into it.

I was highly skeptical of Dexter, being YET ANOTHER serial killer. But the show is brilliant. I am so glad I finally watched it. Everything about that show is great, although I find the ending to the most recent season a little disturbing... not sure where that is headed. Yikes.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Hmm. I hate to admit this, but I've never seen Mission Impossible. Somehow it was never on when I would have been interested. :(

In terms of the "to be watched" list, my list is fricken huge right now. I could use a couple weeks just to catch up on the backlog, except I can't afford the time off at the moment because I'm trying to get some stuff written asap.... too many flaming chainsaws in the air!

Anonymous said...

I have a huuuge "to be watched" list, including Alias, The X-Files, The Larry Sanders Show (I own the boxset already), and Farscape (ditto). I have the time, except it takes a lot for me to pay 100% attention and I spend too much of the day sitting anyway.

As for Blue Bloods, I was an extra in the pilot but I couldn't really see myself. :-D

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Monk really had a unique take and some good writing (but the last few seasons were hit and miss and not as balanced as the earlier seasons), and I got attached to the characters and actually cared about them.

The premise of Monk has also been copied a lot.
I'm giving The Finder a chance (sort of a knockoff of Monk) and it has potential but it's not at Monks level so far.

I'll give a shoutout to House, which is a medical detective show, but the last few seasons have been mostly underwhelming.

Why can't shows that are good starting out keep the writers that made the shows good? Or, failing that, get just as good writers to replace them? Argh!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


Congratulations! I hope you get a bigger part in the future. :^)

Also, don't listen to Andrew about editing. I like your insights unedited and uncut. :^)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Farscape disappointed me. It started so strong and then suddenly had this switch over where the characters changed and the feel of the show changed, and it lost me.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I think it's interesting how some shows just fall apart. A show I really enjoyed was Dead Like Me (hint: you have to see the uncut version).

But after the great first season, we saw these interviews where the actors and writers suddenly got full of themselves. Whereas the first season had been a quirky, fun comedy, they all suddenly starting talking about how "important" the show was and how they planned to "explore significant issues" in the upcoming season and how it would be better than ever.

Uh, no.

They basically abandoned the fun comedy and turned it into a depressing, angry drama which re-wrote all of the characters and robbed them of what made them great.

It got cancelled.

Anonymous said...

USS Ben -

Thanks! Re: Blue Bloods, since I am no longer living in the NY/NJ area (they shoot in NY), I doubt I'll be appearing on the show anytime soon.

Having said that, it was a clusterf---. I've been on sets and this one wasn't run very well. The scene was a police academy graduation and was shot on location outside Madison Square Garden and they didn't have enough assistant directors to take care of the extras and too many extras were assigned the wrong "roles." For example, they had 50 extras playing cops and 25 playing reporters - not a good ratio. They also failed to take into account that TV reporters would have cameramen and sound guys following them, so they took some of the well-dressed "reporter" extras and made them "cameraman" extras.

But it was cool to stand 10 feet away from Tom Selleck!

As for my answers, I told Andrew I would try to reign it in just a little bit.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


That was one hell of a cliffhanger on Dexter! Yikes indeed!

Anonymous said...

Andrew -

The interesting thing about Dead Like Me was that creator Bryan Fuller (who also did the much-missed Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies) left after a handful of episodes after disputes with the network.

Sorry to hear that about Farscape but I guess I need to find out for myself. :-)

If you want a show that went completely off the rails, go back and take a look at seaQuest. They went from exploring various environmental and political issues to time travel and encounters with Poseidon in just two years!

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I have a lot of faith in the show that they know what they are going, but this struck me as one of those moments where they are sizing up the shark tank and revving up the motorcycles.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yeah, that was clearly where the show went wrong. Don't get me wrong, some of the second season stuff is really interesting and it's well done for what it is, but it's not the show we signed on for in the first season and it lost its heart.

I only watched seaQuest briefly so I never saw how it evolved.

Good luck with Farscape. That's a show I wanted very much to like, and it had just enough to keep reminding me of its promise, but it never fulfilled that promise for me.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


I got that same feeling about Blue Bloods in the beginning.
It seemed rushed and chaotic, but eventually everything started to gel and it became more compelling drama.
Now it's must see for me.

Andrew: That scene was one of the few things about the show I anticipated but I thought it would be in the final season.
Because it does seem like they pressed the nuclear option.

However, as you said, the writers haven't disappointed thus far, so I have faith they can handle it. I hope.

Evel Kenieval plots can be good as long as it doesn't go astray (snake river jumping rocket cycles = not a good idea).

Stay true to the characters and what got you where you're at is a good policy for writers to contemplate.

In other words, if it ain't broke don't fix it (or go nuclear without a damn good and believable plan).

Not to say don't take risks, and thus far the risks they have taken have worked well.
Just sayin' really think about the risks and what they will do to the story and characters.

AndrewPrice said...


I have faith at this point. I guess we'll see how they handle it. This has serious potential to really change the nature of the show.

LOL! Yeah, that whole Snake River thing... not a good idea.

darski said...

Just curious. I have heard of "Monk". Is it based on the Anne Perry mysteries?

Which reminds me of Cadfael with Derek Jacoby... loved those too.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Loved Alias ... if "spy show" counts as "detective" show...

Detectives... Batman and Robin the 1960s series were great fun -- campy good.

Scooby Doo was great as a kid... the first run with the rock video in the middle for the chase. Good for kids of course....

AndrewPrice said...

darski, I have no answer for you. Perhaps Ben will whenever he comes back?

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I loved that music. What a great idea to set a chase scene to love songs -- and Beatles/Monkeys ripping-off love songs at that! It's too bad they only did six episodes like that because it was really well done!

P.S. Can't believe I forget Scooby Doo! Now there is a great detective! :)

Outlaw13 said...

Magnum PI was a lot of fun especially toward to end of its run.

Jim Rockford on the Rockford Files was entertaining as well.

McCloud was pretty fun too.

Today, I like Burn Notice and Justified, both aren't classic detective shows...but that's all I got.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, I remember McCloud riding his horse down the middle of a big city street -- very good intro.

I've heard good things about Justified, but haven't seen it yet.

Another one that comes to mind was Hunter. I liked that a lot too.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...


No, not that I know of.

Monk is about a brilliant, former San Francisco detective, Adrian Monk who has various phobias but nothing keeping him from doing his job..

However, those phobias (and new ones) greatly cripple Adrian Monks ability to do much of anything after his wife was blown up in a car, thus making him unfit to be a police officer.

Eventually, with the help of a nurse, his psychiatrist (who has a recurring role in the series) and a lot of therapy, Monk is able to once again help the SF police solve crimes but he is still unfit to wear a badge.

Because the phobias are still bad enough to greatly hinder his efforts (and provides a lot of laughs without denigrating those who do have debillitating mental illnesses).

For Monk, detecting is easy but life and his phobias are not.

The mysteries are mostly good and well thought out but Monk really shines when he is facing his phobias as does his nurse/assistant and his police pals with him.

Funny and very poignant at times, Monk is a unique kind of mystery/comedy for those of us tired of the boring, generic police procedurals that have inundated the networks.

You won't be sorry you watched it. :^)

Eric P said...

On a serious note, Columbo. On a super-serious note, Frank Drebin, Police Squad.

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! "on a super-serious note!"

Eric P said...

Dammit, how could I forget Detective Dan Stark from The Good Guys. Always love a great punk-buster.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I don't know that one.

Here's the link: LINK

Tennessee Jed said...

No love for Peter Gunn. I suspect that 99% wouldn't even know who he is without having a search engine handy, and a full 90% wouldn't know the famous theme song if they tripped over it. :)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I don't know who he is, truth be told, though I do know the name. BUT I do know the theme song as I've heard it somewhere else.

rlaWTX said...

Wild, Wild West: if people pretend there are only 3 Star Wars movies, can I pretend there's never was a Wild, Wild West movie? Since we had a black and white TV through the late 80s, I never realized how old the series was until they were talking about its run during the promo of that never-made movie. I thought it was more contemporary than that... I think that I have liked everything that I have seen Robert Conrad in - which hasn't been a lot - but includes Black Sheep Squadron.

Scott - 10 feet from Tom Selleck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OK breathing again - I am sooo jealous. 5th-6th grade I had the Magnum poster in my closet (so my dad wouldn't find it and take it down) < sigh >

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I think it's a very sensible policy to pretend the movie doesn't exist! :)

I agree with you about Conrad, I've liked him in everything I've seen him in. And Black Sheep was one of my favorite shows growing up.

darski said...

It does sound like they have Taken Perry's Monk and made adaptations to work for today. Are period pieces no longer done?

I have so enjoyed this trip down memory lane. Mannix rules :)

AndrewPrice said...

darski, It's always fun to see what people come up with and then to think back on all the stuff I've seen over the years. :)

Here's your link: LINK

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