Rolling Stone


Love whodunit shows? Here are 10 classics


Peter Gunn 1958-61

Where most of the medium’s early private detectives were adapted from books, movies, and radio plays, Craig Stevens’ Peter Gunn was created by Blake Edwards directly for

TV. A suave jazz lover who rarely had a hair out of place, Gunn was one cool cat, enough to live up to the show’s iconic Henry Mancinipen­ned theme song, which has long outlived memories of Gunn himself.

The Rockford Files 1974-80

Rian Johnson says detective shows are secretly hangout shows, and no P.I. was ever more fun to hang out with than Jim Rockford, played by the superhuman­ly charming James Garner. An ex-con living in a trailer in a Malibu parking lot, Rockford took on all manner of sketchy clients, and frequently got punched in the stomach for his troubles. But he always got back up.

Magnum, P.I. 1980-88

Tom Selleck guested in a few late-period Rockford Files episodes. And if his title character here — a Vietnam vet driving a red Ferrari all over Oahu and living in a rich novelist’s guest house — was presented as cooler and more innately heroic than Jim Rockford, Thomas Magnum nonetheles­s seemed a worthy heir to the throne of television’s most likable private dick.

Moonlighti­ng 1985-89

A huge phenomenon at first, due to scorching chemistry between ex-model Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) and wisecracki­ng detective David Addison (Bruce Willis) and to creative flights of fancy like a Taming of the Shrew- -inspired inspired episode called “Atomic Shakespear­e.” It later fell apart — in reality, Shepherd and Willis hated each other, and ABC had to air reruns when new episodes weren’t ready — but for a few years, it was magic.

The Singing Detective 1986

The masterwork of one of TV’s most audacious creators, Dennis Potter’s miniseries blends hard-boiled crime drama, movie musicals, and gritty realism. Michael Gambon plays a mystery novelist hospitaliz­ed with crippling psoriasis who copes with the pain by imagining himself as a singing gumshoe. Weird, thrilling, heartbreak­ing.

Monk 2002-09

Obsessive-compulsive disorder proved both blessing and curse for Tony Shalhoub’s amusing, endearing Emmy-winning title character here. On the one hand, Monk is so wracked with anxiety and germophobi­a that it’s a wonder he can leave the house. On the other, his fixation on tiny details makes him a brilliant investigat­or who every week does the cops’ work for them.

Burn Notice 2007-13

Michael Westen wasn’t technicall­y a P.I. but an ex-spy with a particular set of skills that proved useful when vulnerable people needed his help. His talent for improvised weaponry — say, destroying a car’s engine with a coffee can full of thermite — came in especially handy week after week, as did the help of colorful pals Fiona (Gabrielle Anwar) and Sam (Bruce Campbell).

Veronica Mars 2004-07

A shockingly successful marriage of film noir and teen angst, starring a young Kristen Bell as a private eye solving mysteries (including the murder of her best friend). The character returned as an adult in a movie and a revival. But it was the idea of a teen girl acting like Philip Marlowe that made the show special.

Terriers 2010

Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd have the most famous chemistry of any TV-detective duo. But the platonic bond between Terriers co-stars Donal Logue (as an alcoholic ex-cop) and Michael Raymond-James (as a thief trying to go straight) was intoxicati­ng in its own right. If only enough people had been aware of the wonderful but short-lived FX drama — or hadn’t assumed the title meant it was about dogfightin­g.

Sherlock 2010-17

There’s a long, storied list of small-screen Sherlock Holmeses, including CBS’ very solid Elementary,

whose run overlapped with this fabulously clever BBC version, co-written by Dr. Who

veteran Steven Moffat. Set in modern times (Holmes is good at texting), this Sherlock

made a star of Benedict Cumberbatc­h, did the same for Martin Freeman as a toughertha­n-usual Dr. Watson, and had a great Moriarty in a pre- Fleabag

Andrew Scott.

 ?? ?? Moonlighti­ng’s
Shepherd and Willis
Moonlighti­ng’s Shepherd and Willis
 ?? ?? Shalhoub
 ?? ?? Selleck
 ?? ?? Logue (left) and Raymond-James
Logue (left) and Raymond-James

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