I quit all CSI & L&O etc 2 years ago because they were all hackwork. Any better now?

The tired writing & wooden acting on all these procedurals just wore me out after a while so I pretty much left the procedural genre. Any of them any good these day?

Maybe try Homicide and The Wire?

Original flavor Law and Order was quite good last year (when they weren’t riffing on 9/11 or the Iraq war that is). That’s pretty much your baseline, as long as the episode doesn’t tie in with 9/11, Iraq or terrorists, it will likely be very entertaining.

If it does, turn off the TV and burn your remote. It’s the only way to excise the stupid from your brain.

I just get basic cable + internet so I’ve never seen much of those shows except at friend’s houses. Are they really considered procedurals, I thought they were more Sopranoesque type dramas.

In terms of quality and seriousness, they’re Sopranos-eque. But in terms of content, they are about the job first and foremost.


  • The people are beautiful
  • Lots of flashy music and editing
  • Criminals are intelligent
  • There’s always enough evidence to prove the case
  • Everything wins in trial
  • Everyone in the team loves each other
  • All politics are Good versus Evil


  • The people are normal to ugly
  • Gritty, I-just-filmed-this-without-makeup-or-lights
  • Criminals are dirt stupid and usually drunk or high. The police spend a lot of time picking on them for being so stupid.
  • Evidence is a luxury. Most of everything you have to go on is witnesses (who are stupid and probably drunk or high), logic, public records, and a lot of phone calls and leg work. Just as often as not, there isn’t enough evidence to prove the case.
  • Even cases which are “solved” by the department are perfectly likely to lose in court, be traded down to something less, or otherwise have the crook back on the streets in less time than made the whole process worth it.
  • Most of everyone doesn’t really consider themselves to know anyone else in the unit at any real personal level, except their partner.
  • Politics are very gray. Some is slimy and others are about prioritizing police loyalty. It’s all evil, in a sense, but you have to play to game to get any good.

The Wire:

  • The people are normal to beautiful
  • Sopranos-like camera work and editing
  • Criminals are of medium-low to higher intelligence than the police
  • Evidence gathering is like a process of chess. You make a move. If the bad guy catches you making the move, he makes a counter move. If you act based on your move (evidence), again it could make the bad guy realize and counter. Any time there’s a counter, you have to come up with something new and start trickling it out again.
  • The cases will be prosecuted but for various reasons the results are unsatisfactory
  • Everyone on the team hates each other for the most part
  • Our team of people are evangelic gods, torn down by the evil politics within the policing business.

If by Homicide, Sage Rat means Homicide: Life on the Street, it’s a really good police procedural series. But it’s no longer on air except in reruns, so I’d recommend renting the DVDs if you want to see it. Crime Story (starring Dennis Farina) was another really good show, but it’s twenty years old and sadly only lasted two seasons.

I don’t watch it, but I’ve heard good things about the Mentalist on CBS. But I do agree that both Law & Order and CSI are very tired.

The episodes of L&O and L&O:SVU I’ve seen in the past two years have been uneven; a couple of good ones, some ok ones, some meh ones and a couple of lousy ones. Jack McCoy is still the Grand Inquisitor of New York, using any twisted legalism he can to win cases. SVU still tends to be good when dealing with the characters and poor when it veers off into social messages.