WowCheckItOut selected the ten best television detectives filmed in the last ten years, from “Bosch” to “True Detective” and “Mindhunter.”
The detective genre appeared in the Victorian era. The most terrible villain of that time was Jack the Ripper, who committed atrocities in the London borough of Whitechapel in 1888 – he remained uncaught. Technical means for solving crimes from the then detectives were not even fingerprinting Scotland Yard adopted only in 1895. And the writers of the series came up with a cunning move: what if you put on the trail of the Ripper of the current criminologists, armed with the latest methods and techniques? And here in modern London, the imitator of Jack is announced, reproducing the murders of a hundred years ago to the details. This case becomes the first of the inexperienced inspector Chandler and the experienced detective Miles. To help them comes an eccentric historian – a “Ripperologist” who studies the crimes of the Ripper. In the following seasons, they will continue to reveal the darkest “historical” crimes of Whitechapel – new atrocities, terribly similar to those committed here many years ago.
BBC One, 2010−2017
The example of “Whitechapel” suggests that the writer’s Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat, who worked on the set of “Doctor Who,” were not the first to think of placing a Victorian hero in our high-tech time. Unlike the authors of “Whitechapel,” they did not become cautious, keeping unchanged the details of the Victorian detective, and famously rewrote the source, charging it with an unprecedented drive. The impeccable British gentleman turned into an eccentric detective with an iPhone, a “highly active sociopath” whose genius was derived from his mental makeup. This new Sherlock acted like a superhero from a comic book in a semi-fantastic reality where Gattis and Moffat had long been settled. The same irresistible supervillain confronted him. He grounded this battle of two psychopaths with reality cozy burghers Watson and Lestrade – this frenzied intellectual cocktail eventually became the main detective show of the decade.
The fashion for northern noir originated in the zero in literature: the first Scandinavian long-playing detective sagas-series with eccentric but unbending detectives were appreciated. In the tenth year, this boom reached television, and “Murder” was the first show in this genre to receive international recognition. The series about how the corpse of another Laura Palmer was extracted from a forest lake was not yet finished when its American remake had already begun to appear on the Fox channel. However, the main fans of Scandi Noir were the British – and a few years later even learned to shoot it (see the series “Fortitude”). The Scandinavians gave the world an irresistible type of “autistic Scandinavian cop.” His first icon was a ridiculous aunt in a sweater with a Farrer pattern and an unsettled personal life, stubborn as death Sarah Lund, who wade through the jungle of political intrigues generating domestic evil, constantly made mistakes in details, but never left the trail of the killer.
The British answer to the Scandinavians is a series about a close-knit local commune, where every peaceful man in the street has his own pride and a hidden skeleton in the closet, and all together they enthusiastically lie to a stranger, an alien detective Hardy, investigating the murder of a child. This Hardy, inspired by David Tennant, is a sociopath and misanthrope with a tender heart, irreconcilable to the sins of others, but believing in redemption. A detective from the local area, a cozy DS Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman), becomes for this unpleasant man with a squeamish grimace and an unbearable sense of duty anchor and guide among the pitfalls of Broadchurch. And the show, which began as a sharp social satire on the conservatism of local communities, is resolved in the finale of the first season by a powerful catharsis with an unequivocal didactic message: this very society can oppose the evil that permeates society at all levels only with repentance and cohesion.
The mystical, disturbing and atmospheric show, where the action takes place in different time layers, and southern Gothic interferes with the life of family troubles and psychodrama. Its very name seems to cross out all the previous “fake” detectives. Obsessed with his own and others’ past and wading through the matter of memory, as if through a swampy Louisiana swamp, the binge-drinking former cop and fatalist Rust Cole played by Matthew McConaughey became, if not a meme, then one of the cultural heroes of the decade. Series creator Nick Pizzolato adapted the Danish “Murder” for Fox and soaked in noir-like the smoke of other people’s cigarettes, but made a completely original show with the same message: things are not what they seem, and any soil oozes evil – until a fanatic of the search for truth, albeit constantly straying astray, gets in his way. The next two seasons of the anthology could not surpass the outstanding first.
On a similar piece of material — unsolved serial murders from the past — David Fincher made two equal seasons, where the atmosphere of noir is just the tenth thing. The main thing is the hopeless attempt of the idealist detective Holden Ford to comprehend the very nature of evil, rummaging through the psycho traumas and over-the-top brains of serial killers. However, in 1977, when the action begins, the “serial killer” concept does not yet exist. It is introduced into use by a detachment led by Ford, created by the FBI. Maniacs, monsters, and psychopaths – the product of the sick subconscious of society, traumatized by wars and cataclysms, or a flaw in human nature itself? Looking into the abyss into the eyes of the main murderers of the century, including Charlie Manson and necrophile Ed Kemper with a record intelligence quotient, Holden finds only emptiness there. His attempts to explore this dark matter and understand where demons come from — “We’re trying to understand why you’re doing this” — are shattered by Kemper’s crushing response: “I’d like to know that myself.”
Amazon Prime, 2014–present
The series, which pretends to be an old-fashioned police procedure, is one of the best exercises in the neo-noir genre in recent years. No intellectual or genius, but just an experienced cop from a slaughter named Jerome (or Harry) Bosch for a quarter of a century peers into the night haze of Los Angeles, sewn with neon light, inhabited by evil souls, and he has no more illusions about human nature than any other pupil of the orphanage. He is not a fatalist or an idealist, but he has his own samurai code – you can break the charter, but you can not go along the curve all the time. Fans of exciting shows with sharp turns with “Bosch” are not on the way: this is a slow detective story about the futile life, to understand, which is also not a quick thing (and retribution is constantly late). Detective Michael Connelly has published 21 novels about Bosch, and in the season, there are usually three novels, so Bosch has not yet come off his slow distance.
BBC One, 2015
The story of an elderly London inspector River talking to ghosts and slowly going crazy with grief, is a short show (six episodes in total) and heartbreaking. This is a hybrid series, another declaration of the British love for Scandy Noir. On the one hand, there is a classic British “social” here, inhabited by heroes of all classes who do not fit into the social way of life, who strive to get into crime. On the other hand, the Swede Stellan Skarsgård solos here, who found himself in the role of a cop in a borderline state, not by chance. His film “Insomnia” (1997), about a policeman hovering between dream and reality in a polar city, is an exemplary Scandinavian proto noir from an era when they were not yet put on the stream. Most often, River talks with the spirit of his partner Stevie, who was killed before his eyes – he wants and does not want to solve this case because then he will know a completely different Stevie and lose her forever. There is a rare drama about unfulfilled love wrapped in a detective story – nothing similar can be found in either the British or Scandinavian detective tradition.
English writer Neil Cross invented Inspector Luther, relying on two detective traditions at once. Luther is endowed with a sharp mind and honed deductive thinking, like Sherlock. But at the same time, his investigations do not end with identifying the criminal – he, like Lieutenant Colombo, solos in the “inverted detective,” where the criminal is known, but not caught, and around him, you need to slowly circle, collecting evidence. Deduction plus intuition is how it works. Along with the frantic handsome Luther, whose role came as poured, Idris Elba – the former Stringer Bell from The Wire”, the series gave us the best anti-hero of the decade, brilliant, like Moriarty, – Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson). Their lovingly bitter confrontation with Luther dragged on for almost a decade.
A unique detective project of four almanacs. The action of each takes place in the interrogation room, where sniffers from four countries are trying to bring to clean water a variety of criminals, whose guilt is sure: “splitting” them is a matter of the most complex technique. In the British episode (the creator of the series is Englishman Jim Field Smith), we see David Tennant on the other side of the investigation – in the role of a prim British gentleman suspected of killing his great daughter. In the French episodes, the investigation revolves around murders in the name of love and jealousy. The Spaniards’ interrogations are similar to grotesque scenes from Almodóvar’s films. And the Germans have brilliant episodes with an inspector from the former GDR, for the sake of truth, ready to sub drum the law, which a serial killer opposes. This is a hunt for the one who is guilty. All criminals are like cornered snapping animals, although they demonstrate the whole gamut of human feelings, from calm and indifference to superiority. And all cops are unhappy in their own way – their virtuosity in their craft costs them dearly. These exciting chamber intellectual and psychological duels are worth a dozen ordinary detective shows “followed by exposure.”