Crime shows–sometimes called “police procedurals”–have been a staple of American television since the 1950s, when Jack Webb’s landmark series Dragnet featured two Los Angeles detectives doggedly solving murders, robberies, and other mysteries. More than 60 years later, television (and now online distributors) features dozens of programs designed to satisfy the public’s seemingly insatiable appetite for stories about police and prosecutors who hunt down the “bad guys.” How many of these popular shows do you watch?
Sherlock (CBS) and Elementary (BBC)
Even before television there were crime novels and short stories. Perhaps the most famous literary detective, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, is the subject of two present-day crime dramas. CBS’ Sherlock features the detective in modern-day New York (with a female Dr. Watson), while the BBC’s Sherlock keeps the detective in his traditional London setting.
NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: New Orleans (CBS)
The NCIS franchise features three different shows–set in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New Orleans, respectively–that follow the fictional adventures of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Unlike many other police procedurals, the NCIS shows focus almost exclusively on military crimes rather than civilian courts.
Blue Bloods (CBS)
A combination of police and family drama, Blue Bloods features a family of cops working for the New York Police Department.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC)
In the early 1990s, Law & Order revived the traditional Dragnet-style police procedural. The original series went off the air in 2010 but its first spin-off, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, remains one of the most popular crime shows on the air, focusing on “especially heinous” sexual offenses in New York City.
Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders (CBS)
Another multi-series franchise, Criminal Minds focuses on FBI agents who use advanced “profiling” techniques to catch criminals. Its second spin-off, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, focuses on crimes committed against American citizens abroad.
Better Call Saul (AMC)
A spin-off from one of the most popular crime dramas of recent years–Breaking Bad–this series is set around a small-town lawyer who becomes mixed up in criminal activity.
Television Is Not Reality
While crime dramas are great fun to watch, it is important to remember they are not an accurate picture of how the legal system actually works. Real criminal investigations and trials are not resolved neatly within an hour. And while police procedurals may show you exactly who committed a crime and why, discovering the truth can be a much more complicated process in real life. That is why if you are charged with a crime you should not call Saul Goodman, but the real-life Galveston criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates. Our Houston attorneys are prepared to help you today.