I’ve been watching Criminal Minds lately and it got me thinking about the fact that I’ve always liked police investigation style television shows, with a personal favourite being CSI (the original, not Miami or NY). I’m also a Bones fan, though I don’t know how much that started because I was missing David Boreanaz (who plays Seely Booth but is better known as Angel, before vampires were cool).
I realised that even though I’ve watched (and do watch) quite a lot of crime shows, there are many that I haven’t watched. You see, I never really watched Law and Order and or their million spin-off’s, not because I didn’t like them, but I already had too many cop shows in my viewing rotation and I do like to mix it up.
It got me thinking; if I watch lots of police procedural shows but there are still heaps that I haven’t ever watched, just how many are there that have come and gone over the years? So after a quick Wikipedia check (which is so accurate you could reference them in an assignment *insert sarcasm here*), I discovered that there are/have been 620 police related television shows – 620!
After going through the long list, I discovered that 103 are still currently on the air. That’s 103 in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. With many of the North American police procedurals syndicated across the world, that’s a whole lot of shows to choose from.
The rule is, generally shows aren’t created if there isn’t a market for them, so why are there so many police procedurals on the air? Crime shows have always been a staple on television, just like crime novels have always been popular. It’s because people love a ‘whodunnit’, they like trying to figure out who committed the crime alongside the professionals on the case; it can make them feel smarter and more aware.
I also feel it’s popularity stems from the same reason that you love Batman and Superman comics, people like to see justice being served. The world is not a safe place, it is filled with crime. I feel that people want to believe that no matter how meticulously you cover your tracks, you will always be caught out by a series of professionals and justice will prevail. My sister disagrees. She thinks that there are so many soap opera style shows out there and that people want to see something interesting.
I agree to a certain extent, one of the things I love about police dramas is their story lines are rarely predictable. There is almost always an element of surprise and there is always something you can learn. I find them educational in understanding the justice system in different countries, mostly the US. Either way, police shows are some of the most popular on television and seem to be the most dominant genre.
What’s your favourite police drama? Why do you think they are so popular?