Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is it a bird? Is it a tomato?

No! It's a mystery.

Having debated favourite mystery books and films, an internet group I belong to started discussing favourite mystery TV shows. The first favourite that sprang to my mind was Columbo. I adore that show and am currently enjoying reruns on TV. I was late to the party, as ever, and saw that someone had already mentioned Columbo - and been told in no uncertain terms that it didn’t qualify as a mystery because viewers knew exactly whodunnit and why.

I didn’t argue, I’m far too polite, but I disagree with that. Viewers know whodunnit, they know why the deed was done and they know Columbo will soon have the culprit brought to justice. They don’t, however, know how Columbo will solve the mystery.

I read on and saw that many people’s favourite mystery shows were unknown to me. I’m a Brit, as you might guess from the funny spelling (I can spell favourite the wrong way, truly :)), and there are dozens of shows, hugely popular in the States, that simply don’t make it over here. (If anyone over the pond wants a house guest, I’d be no trouble. Just sit me down in front of the TV…) Columbo travelled well, thank goodness. In fact, hardly a day goes by when an old Columbo isn’t shown on British TV.

Here are some of my other favourites:
I just loved Robbie Coltrane as the chain-smoking, gambling, whisky drinking forensic psychologist in Cracker.


Lots of clues to be found on dead bodies in Silent Witness. Love this show - and it has nothing to do with Tom Ward. Nothing at all.

The Killing (Danish version) with the amazing Sarah Lund.

And, of course, the Swedish Wallander. I could watch this show over and over and I'm sure I'll read Henning Mankell's books again.

So what’s your favourite TV mystery show? And what about Columbo? Does it qualify as a mystery or not? I say it does.

11 comments:

Maureen A. Miller said...

I admit I was young, but I grew up on the hardcore 1-hour mystery shows of the 70s.

Columbo, McLoud, Cannon, Mannox, Kojak, Petricelli, Beretta

You're nothing unless you have your last name as the title of a show!

Rita said...

Aren't all stories basically a mystery? Whether we know the outcome are not the mystery is how the characters will get from the beginning to the end.
As Maureen said there were many mystery shows on TV. At one time they were very popular. It appears they are coming back. Mystery is a huge umbrella that takes in many styles.
If it would only get rid of 5 to 7 minute commercial breaks and on-screen commercials I might start to watch TV again.

Toni Anderson said...

Oh God, Shirley, I am salivating. The quality of CRACKER. I mean when Robert Carlisle was in it--do you remember? Robbie lives in the same village as my parents in law and I've often seen him driving by and filling the aisle in the co-op. And Prime Suspect. They don't make them like that over hear even though they make some good ones. I loves THE KILLING (US) version so I'd love to see the Danish version. And what was the one Clive Owen was in? Second Sight? LOVED that :)

Toni Anderson said...

Robbie as in Coltrane, not Robert C BTW :)

Shirley Wells said...

Maureen - most of those came over to the UK (and I, um, wasn't so young :)). I loved to see Sam McCloud wearing his cowboy hat in New York!

Rita - I agree that all stories are basically a mystery. That's why we read/watch them.
We have exactly the same problem with commercial breaks over here which is why I always record stuff and watch it later when I can hit the 'Forward' button.

Shirley Wells said...

Toni - The episode of Cracker when Robert Carlisle was in it was the best ever. When he shaves his head and chants the Liverpool FC anthem, it sends shivers down my spine.

Robbie would fill the aisle. I once saw him striding along the street and I was dumbstruck. That guy is huge. Broad yes, but tall with it. And I love that Jimmy McGovern originally cast Fitz as a lean, wiry man. :)
Second Sight - yes, that's another good one.

Elise Warner said...

I agree, Shirley. The "How," makes it a mystery. Rarely missed a Columbo and I loved Coltrane in Cracker. I Miss Prime Suspect--in a class by itself and what about Dalziel and Pascoe and...and... and...

Mike Keyton said...

I love Columbo too, but never ever got into Cracker. My three all time favourites though are the classics - the Hickson Miss Marple, Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes, and of course, Poirot. Having said that I also like the mindless absurdity of Midsomer and the elan of Life on Mars

Marcelle Dubé said...

Shirley, of COURSE Columbo is a mystery show. Geez.

Does Fringe count? I love that show. What about Cagney and Lacey? And Quincey?

And I do enjoy Midsomer... it always makes me want to get myself a nice cuppa...

Shirley Wells said...

Elise - I'd forgotten Prime Suspect. I loved that and Dalziel and Pascoe. I have far too many favourites. :)

Mike - I was totally hooked on Cracker. Yes, I love those classics too and could watch them over and over. How could I forget Life on Mars? Brilliant stuff!

Marcelle - I've had to look up Fringe on Google. I don't think it's been to the UK or, if it has, I've missed it. I'll look out for it. Quincey - yes! I was hooked on that too.

Wendy Soliman said...

Cracker does it for me. Great theme!