I am a huge fan of murder mysteries. This does not mean I am likely to turn in to a murderer but the whole process of investigating and trying to read people is fascinating to me. Monk was clearly the best murder mystery TV show ever. It had to end at some point but there are still several good similar shows out now, including “Castle” and “Lie to Me”.
All the popular mystery shows have a few common themes – an attractive supporting female star, a fascinating and quirky male lead, and a teenage girl who is usually the daughter of one of the other two main characters. It’s what people like to see. For a TV show that was primarily based around Monk’s obsessive-compulsive disorder and his uncanny ability to solve mysteries, people often underestimate the value of having Natalie Teeger, his assistant’s daughter, appear for a few minutes each episode. It adds a bit of comic relief, makes the whole story feel a little closer to home, and generally attracts more viewers who just want to see the beautiful girl.
“Castle” is in its second season in which a murder writer works with detective Kate Beckett at the NYPD. There is a great dynamic between the two. They get on each other’s nerves time and time again yet it always seems that they are close to falling in love. The murder mysteries are unique as well, although they seem to be the beneficiaries of modern technology and dumb luck in much the same was as the detectives in CSI, but it’s still a great show. Castle has a 15 year old daughter Alexis who adds a lot to the show. “Castle” is on ABC and is currently in its third season.
“Lie to Me” is my new favorite. It bears a strong resemblance to House in that the main character is kind of a bully, stubborn, and extremely difficult to work with. Englishman Tim Roth plays the start Dr. Cal Lightman, who runs a private company that works independent contracts with the police and FBI to determine who is lying and to extract information from murder suspects. He is supposedly a revolutionary expert on lying and face reading. I don’t know how much of the science is actually accurate but it is quite interesting. Lightman’s partner is Gillian Foster and one of his assistants goes by Ria Torres, both attractive ladies an he also has a teenage daughter Emily. “Lie to Me” just completed its third season (only 13 episodes) and FOX has declined to order another season, which would be quite a disappointment if the show ended after only 3 years. But “Lie to Me” may still make it back on air in the fall because it has been a big success and the producers are not ready to call it quits.
Also worth noting is “In Plain Sight”. Mary McCormack plays Mary Shannon, a US Marshall in charge of relocating and protecting federal witnesses in Albuqerque, New Mexico. While her job does not directly deal with homicides, she frequently finds herself investigating homicides. She also is an icon for female independence as she is dedicated to her job so much that her family and personal life suffer greatly. There are no kids in the main characters but Shannon’s younger sister Brandi fits the role of a young attractive female in need of care that we have come to expect from crime mysteries. It is currently in its fourth season on the USA Network.