With summer coming to an end and the fall season already being advertised, crime dramas still remain at the top of the list for viewing. There are so many shows to choose from; some actually classified as crime dramas, some may involve murder but are not actually defined as crime dramas, and those which display an element or two of crime to keep the narrative interesting. Whether new, old or syndicated, television audiences don’t mind the clutter of suspense, murders and violence that strew the tube which encompasses so much of American society.
Some shows which start in September may be cut short by midseason. New programs may start in December or January; some in March and so on. It’s getting to the point a lot of shows, depending on ratings, begin when those in charge feel like bringing them on; so keeping up can be hard to do. Since most programs today do not last more than five seasons, audiences have to go with the flow. However CBS remains consistent in its popular primetime crime drama programming by presenting full seasons (September to May).
Here is crime or crime related dramas on network television (non-cable) –
ABC (summer) “Motive” “Rookie Blue” “Whodunnit”
Motive is classified as a police drama where the killer is revealed and events are shown that led to the killing. Stars include Kristin Lehman, Louis Ferreira and Lauren Holly. The series began in February. Motive airs on Thursdays at 9 p.m./8c.
Now in its fifth season that began in July 2010, Rookie Blue is the story of five rookie cops dealing with police work and their personal lives. Stars include Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith and Charlotte Sullivan. The program is on Thursdays at 10 p.m./9c.
Whodunnit is a mystery reality show involving 13 contestants at a manor trying to solve mysterious puzzles. One of the contestants is the killer and each week a new clue is given. The result – the person who solves all wins a $250,000 prize.The nine-episode series started late June and can be watched Sundays at 9 p.m.
ABC Family continued its fourth season of “Pretty Little Liars” starting on Tuesday, June 11 at 8 p.m. and the season premiere on Tuesday, June 4 at 9 p.m. of “Twisted.” The program is touted as a “16-year-old dude whose character description is basically "troubled past!" reconnects with his two female childhood best pals, then becomes a murder suspect when a girl from school is found dead in her home.” The teenage mystery stars Avian Jogia as the young dude and Denise Richards as his mom.
CBS (summer) – The network kept many of their popular crime dramas during the summer showing repeats that included “Criminal Minds,” CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Rules of Engagement,” “The Mentalist” and “48 Hours.” The biggest comeback was “Unforgettable” starring Poppy Montgomery. The show began the fall season in September 2011 but was cancelled in May 2012. Lifetime was supposed to pick up the series but that fell through; so finally this summer 13 new episodes have been added. The program premiered on Sunday, July 28. Montgomery, who plays Detective Carrie Wells, has hyperthymesia; described as “a rare medical condition that gives her the ability to visually remember everything.” The crime mystery opening had “Carrie and Al’s new case with the NYPD’s Major Crime Section – a high profile kidnapping – hits close to home.” Watch Unforgettable at 9 p.m.
NCIS: Los Angeles moved to Tuesday nights starting July 2 at 10 p.m.
Another premiere program that lasted a hot minute was “Brooklyn DA.” Described as a documentary, it showed in reality what many prosecutors faced in finding evidence, dealing with judges and political corruption. Produced by CBS News, the program was one of the better shows of the summer that started May 28 and ended July 6.
NBC (summer) – “Crossing Lines” “Dateline” “Hannibal”
Crossing Lines started as a series premiere on Sunday June 23 about a former NYPD drug addicted guy working in the Netherlands as a garbage collector. He gets recruited into an international special crime unit located at The Hague. He is later teamed with six others from different European countries to solve international crimes. The program stars William Fichtner, Gabriella Pession and Donald Sutherland.
Dateline is a newsmagazine that touts on legal matters in which many of its stories are crime related. One of the few programs that has lasted over 20 years, Dateline is shown Fridays at 9 p.m./8c and hosted by Lester Holt.
Hannibal premiered Thursday, April 4 with the season finale ending June 20. The program is based on the novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. Hannibal is a forensic psychiatrist (Dr. Hannibal Lecter) who becomes friends with a criminal profiler, but the relationship takes a reverse. The series has been renewed for a second season and stars Mads Mikkelelsen, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne.
FOX (summer) - Episodes of “Cops” and “Bones”
PBS (summer) – The Masterpiece Mystery Series brings four new programs that has or will make your summer nights captivated with intrigue.
The popular “Inspector Lewis” British mysteries continue in “Series VI” in which workaholic DI Robert Lewis (played by Kevin Whately) and his partner DS James Hathaway (played by Laurence Fox) carry on their murder investigations. The new series “Endeavour” stars Detective Constable Endeavour Morse (played by Shaun Evans) in his early career years solving crimes. A smart thinker and honest cop, his superior, Detective inspector Fred Thursday (played by Roger Allam); trusts him and assists him capturing murderers. Endeavour was first aired in January 2012; the series started in April 2013.
“The Lady Vanishes” premiered Sunday, August 18. Here is a synopsis of the story PBS provides –
The Lady Vanishes packs in the suspense and style when Iris Carr, a beautiful young socialite traveling alone, befriends a kindly English middle-aged woman but wakes from a nap to find her missing – and all the strangers surrounding her denying that the woman was ever there at all! This closed-door mystery classic investigates the question of madness and isolation set among increasingly sinister passengers and a train barreling through Europe toward a dangerous and dizzying final destination: the truth.
Silk will enthrall PBS mystery fans and show in three parts (Sundays August 25 – September 8). Here is a PBS caption of what this legal drama contains –
The brilliant, passionate defense barrister Martha Costello, who lives by the "innocent until proven guilty" credo in her defense of the poor and downtrodden, is in the competition of her life. She's applied to be appointed Queen's Counsel – one of the most prestigious accomplishments in an English lawyer's career – a process known as "taking Silk." To be unswervingly principled is difficult enough; but Martha's rival, charming and ruthless Clive Reader, is also in competition for QC. And only one of them will succeed.
PBS on various Thursdays and weekends also bring excellent mysteries such as “Midsomer Murders, ” “Death in Paradise,” “DCI Banks,” “Poirot,” “Sherlock Holmes Mysteries,” “Foyle’s War, ” “New Tricks,” “Hetty Winthropp Investigates,” “Inspector Morse” and “George Gently.”
Washington, D.C.’s PBS station WETA has a separate station that shows many British mystery favorites called WETA UK. Examples are “Rumple of the Bailey” and “Inspector Morse.” A new crime series on the UK channel called “Vera” stars Brenda Blethyn as Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Vera Stanhope. The series actually started on May 1, 2011 on ITV. Vera is described as a workaholic with an acerbic wit while fighting her own demons.
ABC – “Body of Proof” “Red Widow”
Body of Proof began in March 2011 and ended in May. Dana Delaney was the main star playing the role of Dr. Megan Hunt, a medical examiner solving cases, analyzing bodies and dealing with her personal life.
Red Widow aired March 3 to May 5 for one season (really?) and starred Radha Mitchell as the widow playing the role of Marta Walraven. Her life changed when her husband was brutally murdered and she was forced to work with a crime syndicate in place of her husband to save her family.
NBC – “Deception”
Deception was a soap opera starring Meagan Good as Detective Joanna Locasto from the San Francisco Police Department investigating the death of a childhood friend (nee socialite) found dead in a motel. The short-lived program lasted from January 7 to March 18.
CBS – “Golden Boy” “Vegas”
Golden Boy was a crime drama that lasted from February 26 to May 14. Actor Theo James starred as the “Golden Boy;” a young, newly promoted homicide detective in charge with limited experience. Actor Chi McBride played his partner, an experienced detective reaching retirement who at times was reluctant to show him the ropes.
Vegas ran a full season of 21 episodes and classified as a “period drama;” but had crime related elements due to its plot. Dennis Quaid starred as Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a local rancher out of Clark County (where Las Vegas is located) keeping an eye on the Mob. Michael Chiklis played Chicago mobster Vince Savino, in charge of one of the hotels in Las Vegas and an expert in the gaming industry.
FOX – “Fringe” “The Mob Doctor”
Fringe was a popular program that lasted five seasons (September 2008 – January 2013). The show was a mixture of crime, science and the supernatural. Stars included Blair Brown, Lance Reddick and John Noble.
The Mob Doctor ran from September 2012 to January 2013 and involved a surgical resident trying to protect her brother from the Mob. Jordana Spiro played the leading role in the crime drama as Grace Devlin.
Fall Returns in Crime Dramas
ABC – “Castle”
NBC – “Grimm” “Hannibal” “Law and Order SVU”
CBS – “Blue Bloods” “Criminal Minds” “CSI” “Elementary” “Hawaii Five-O” “The Mentalist” “NCIS” “NCIS Los Angeles” “Person of Interest” “48 Hours”
FOX – “The Following” “Bones”
CW – “Nikita”
Series 2 will present crime dramas on cable in the same format.