Mar 20, 2013

Murder! Murder!

I love murder mysteries. I really have no idea why--I don't like scary things, I don't like puzzles--but there is something about murder mysteries that just draw me in. Here's the thing though, I'm horrible at figuring out "whodunit." For example, the other day, I was reading an Agatha Christie book, which I had seen the adaptation of, and I still couldn't figure out who the murderer was! That's just pathetic. So, lately while I've been watching the Marple series (or any murder mystery), I'll come up with about two people who I think could be the murderer--which can, of course, change throughout the episode. There is also usually a secondary mystery, so I'll choose the person who is behind that mystery too. I'm rarely right with the murder, except for the other day when I was watching "Murder is Easy" and halfway through I thought to myself, "the murder is either person A or person B." And guess what! It was person B!! I was so proud of myself that I kind of wanted to brag, but even I realized how lame that would be.

One thing about watching and reading murder mysteries is that I start mistrusting everyone in them. I will frequently say, "Oh that guy is definitely going to be bad. He wants the attention so much!" When really that character is one of the good guys. Oh well, trust no one, right? ;)

Anyway, all of that was just leading up to me sharing some of my favorite murder mystery TV shows with you:

About a team of scientists (called "squints") working in the fictional museum The Jeffersonian, headed by Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a forensic anthropologist who works with bones. They work with FBI agent Seely Booth (David Boreanaz) to solve murders where the body and cause of death are not easily identified. What is amazing to me is how much bones can tell about a person--not only their age and sex, but illnesses, place of origin, diet, and previous injuries, as well as ones sustained after death.

Mystery writer, Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion), gets permission to follow Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and her team around New York City as they solve hurders. Castle's research and connections help them with their cases, as do his mother and daughter--though mostly unknowingly. Castle is a fun character, with all of his crazy theories, and his geekiness. Kate is sensible, but humors him at times.

Inspector Lewis
A British television show that takes place in the wonderful city of Oxford. Inspector Robby Lewis (previously Chief Inspector Morse's sergeant, from the TV show Morse) (Kevin Whately) is a Northern bloke without a lot of fancy learning, while his sergeant, James Hathaway (Laurence Fox), is an Oxbridge educated man who almost became a priest. Lewis has street smarts and experience while Hathaway helps him navigate the world of Oxford University and highly educated society as they solve murders of every kind. The ME, Laura Hobson (Clare Holman), is almost equal in importance and cleverness as Lewis and Hathaway (and I would say Holman almost steals the scenes she is in).

A little old woman, Miss Jane Marple (Geraldine McEwan or Julia McKenzie, depending on the season), helps the police solve murders all over England, including her own town of St. Mary's Mead. There are a lot of famous British faces to be seen in every episode, and it's amusing to see how Miss Marple leads the police to the right clues, earning their trust, and in the end, gathering everyone together to tell the story of the murder. Not every episode is a true Agatha Christie Marple story, and some are greatly changed, but they are still a lot of fun!

Another British television show. This one takes place in Whitechapel, in East London. Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) just received his own team, which is essentially led by Sergeant Ray Miles (Philip Davis), when someone starts copying the Jack the Ripper murders. The first season (3 episodes) focuses on catching the copycat Ripper, with the help of ripperologist Ed Buchan (Steve Pemberton). The second season is another copycat, this time of the Kray twins from the 1960s. Buchan helps them again, which leads to him becoming a permanent member of their team in the third season. Since some of these murders can be a bit graphic (especially the Ripper murders), those scenes are filmed in such a way that hints at the gore without really showing it.

If you haven't heard of BBC's Sherlock by now, I want to know what rock you've been living under! This series takes the Victorian Sherlock and updates him to modern London. The update is seamless and inspired. Sherlock Holmes (the ever marvelous Benedict Cumberbatch) is still as brilliant and condescending as he ever was before as he solves the most unlikely of cases. Helping him is Doctor John Watson (Martin Freeman) and DI Lestrade (Rupert Graves, seriously this cast is amazing). The writers are self proclaimed Conan Doyle fans, so the plots are usually pretty true to the original story, just with updates to make them work in the 21st Century. But there is still 221B Baker Street, the violin, Mrs. Hudson, and even a deer stalker cap every once in a while. And, of course, Moriarty (Andrew Scott). Season 3 has just started filming and will be shown in the US on PBS in 2014.

Pushing Daisies
A quirky series that was greatly under appreciated in it's original run. It's about the Pie-maker, Ned (Lee Pace), who has a very unique talent--he can bring the dead back to life, but only for a minute, or someone else has to die. When he touches them again, they go back to being dead forever. He reluctantly helps Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), a private detective, solve murders by asking the victim if they know who killed them. They also get the help of Charlotte "Chuck" Charles (Anna Friel), Ned's childhood sweetheart, who Ned brought back to life and kept alive past one minute, meaning he can never touch her or she'll die again. It's a weird sounding concept, it's actually a very colorful and upbeat show. The murders are so ridiculous, that it feels okay to be making fun of them.

So, those are some of my favorite murder mystery shows. All of them have good characters, which I appreciate, so don't go in expecting CSI with their cookie-cutter, apathetic, poser characters. And, also, I'm sorry if I get you into these shows and you spend the next year trying to catch up on them all. Really, I am sorry, but have fun while you do it!


  1. I loooove Whitechapel! If you want some easier to figure out mysteries, I also enjoy Cadfael and Rosemary & Thyme. But, I do accept that they are totally old lady shows.

  2. Rosemary and Thyme! I totally forgot about that one! I used to watch it all the time. I haven't heard of Cadfael--I'll have to look it up. And really, I don't think that the "easiness" of figuring it out helps me at all. A lot of people say they can figure out the Marple mysteries from the start, and I rarely can.

  3. I approve of your inclusion of Castle, Sherlock, and Pushing Daisies. Because if you can make me, who hates murder and also sucks at solving them, like a "murder mystery show," then you've obviously done a great job. :D