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September 2, 2014

The five greatest TV police detectives

by Bob Sassone, posted Mar 27th 2007 3:27PM
Peter FalkWelcome to TV Squad Lists (formerly 'The Five'), a feature where each blogger has a chance to list his or her own rundown of things in television that stand out from the rest, both good and bad.

Ah, the police detective genre. It's one of the staples of a network's TV lineup. We all have our favorites, whether the characters are in blue uniforms or suits. Here are my Top 5 (and just so we're clear, I'm talking about police detectives, not private eyes or amateur investigators. I'll have that list tomorrow!)

1. Lt. Columbo (Peter Falk): No contest, really. Sure, there are some other great cops and detectives, but not many with the sheer Sherlock Holmes-like smarts as Lt. Columbo. He walked around sorta lost and bumbling, with a constantly lit cigar, a rumpled raincoat, and hair that made it look like he just woke up. But he was no fool, which all the murderers found out a little bit too late.

2. Sledge Hammer (David Rasche): Hey, I don't know how smart Sledge Hammer was, and he usually used brawn and a gun over brain power, but that doesn't mean he wasn't awesome.

3. Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord): Here's how McGarrett would solve some major crime on Hawaii Five-O: the crime would happen, he'd bend down to look at a corpse or a clue, he'd stand up (his hair wouldn't move at all), he'd look off into space, then snap his fingers to help his thinking along, then he'd tell Danny or another detective to do something. Then a big wave would crash and then there would be a commercial, and then the show would come back on and McGarrett would be chasing someone or interrogating them.

4. Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio): Like Lt. Columbo, Robert Goren of Law and Order: CI is sorta like Sherlock Holmes, though this show doesn't quite have the cleverness of either Columbo or Sherlock Holmes. But Goren is certainly a different kind of detective, one that can figure out if someone is guilty from a quirky clue and look like he could go nutty at any moment and punch someone in the face.

5. Quincy, M.E. (Jack Klugman): OK, so I'm stretching things a bit here. Quincy wasn't a detective or a cop, he was a coroner, but he did investigate crimes in an offical capacity, even if his frustrated boss (TV cops always have a frustrated boss) tried to say to him "you're not supposed to be investigating crimes, you're the coroner! We'll be sued for this!" Klugman is always great, and this was a murder mystery show that used crime labs and evidence under microscopes long before CSI.

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w/e

Goren, come on you have got to be kidding me.
Brisco or Stabler or Logan are much better cops.

November 23 2007 at 12:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
William

We shouldn't forget Lenny Brisco (Jerry Orbach).

May 14 2007 at 12:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kroger

Sipowitz by far is number 1.

March 28 2007 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eb

Oops, I meant "Pembleton and McNulty", not "Goren and McNulty".

I claim sleep deprivation. :)

March 28 2007 at 7:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eb

Goren and McNulty definitely belong here. Logan & Briscoe honorable mention.

March 28 2007 at 6:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
eb

Goren tops Briscoe because of his prowess as a profiler. I think L&O:CI is the best police show I've ever seen. I can't imagine anything topping episodes such as "Monster", "Magnificat", "Cherry Red", "Cuba Libre", "Anti-Thesis", "A Murderer Among Us", "See Me", "Cold Comfort", "Shibboleth", "Death Roe", "In the Wee Small Hours", "Maledictus", "No Exit", and "Con-Text". (Season Six of L&O:CI does not count -- it's pretty lame).

March 28 2007 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CriminalIntent

Goren is #1

March 28 2007 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bruce

Lee Marvin - Det Lt Frank Ballinger - M Squad
Rock Hudson - McMillan[and Wife]
Gene Barry - Amos Burke - Burkes Law [x2]
Herscael Bernardi - Lt. Jacobi - Peter Gunn
Dennis Weaver - McCloud
J D Cannon - Peter B. Clifford - McCloud
Ray Collins - Lt. Arthur Tragg - Perry Mason
Michael Chiklis - The Commish

and if Quincy can be in so can

Nicholas Campbell - DaVinci's Inquest

March 28 2007 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JENNIFER

Another great list though it could be longer. I loved Lenny Briscoe and could always count on him for a sassy on liner that wan always clever and sacrasitc not trendy or cheesy. To those Horatio Caine fans - its a great character dont get me wrong - but dont you ever get sick of seeing David Caruso play the one and only character hes ever played? Its like his acting never evolved from NYPD it just stagnated. Love the show and the rest of the cast is amazing but I just grow tired of him as the lead - the same lead as always.

March 28 2007 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MeMe

Hill Street Blues Cast is the original best!!

March 28 2007 at 10:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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