As new CBS show Evil debuts, we revisit our favorite TV detective duos
Whether they're friends or polar opposites, there's something endlessly appealing about a great TV detective pairing.
Patrick HollandManaging Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
For the better part of the '90s, my Sunday evenings were reserved for The X-Files. The show had it all: sci-fi, conspiracy theories, mysteries, the supernatural, and of course aliens. At the heart of it were FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who had a relationship straight out of a soap opera, with Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny playing the "will they or won't they" tension to unbearable heights. What made Mulder and Scully the perfect detective duo wasn't necessarily the sexual tension, though. It was the fact that they were co-workers who shifted between being friends, opposites and outlaws wistful of their feelings for each other while unraveling the layered mysteries and dangers of our government.
premiered new psychological mystery Evil, which uses both science and religion (seemingly at odds these days) to examine the sources of evil in our world. The drama follows a psychologist who joins up with a priest-in-training and a carpenter to investigate unexplained phenomena for the Catholic church. Evil might have a new entry to the great male-and-female detective duo in the form of Mike Colter, who starred as Marvel superhero Luke Cage on Netflix, and Katja Herbers, who you might remember as the daughter of Ed Harris' Man in Black in Westworld. Together they investigate unexplained mysteries, miracles, possessions and hauntings. Be warned: there are demons.
In The Killing, the whole idea of two investigators who are attracted to each other and solve crimes together got sophisticated. Also, we don't realize how interested in each other Sarah (Mireille Enos) and Stephen (Joel Kinnaman) are right from the start. At least not I didn't. Here, instead of trying to solve one case per episode they solve one case per season (sort of). I'm still not completely happy with the ending of this show. And I know Seattle natives weren't happy about the portrayal of their city, especially when it came to rain (also, the show was filmed in Vancouver, not Seattle, and that never helps). I still liked how Stephen and Sarah found a way to be together though, as non-plausible as it was.
-- Patricia Puentes, engagement editor at CNET en Español
Doctor Who has been roaming time and space for more than half a century, so you could write a whole article on the show's many classic male-female pairings. Longtime fans enjoy the showy third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and his relationship with down-to-earth journalist Sarah-Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen), or the otherworldly fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and his relationship with fellow Time Lord Romana. But if I had to pick one timeless time-traveling pair, I'd go for the Doctor and Rose (Billie Piper). They relaunched and redefined the show for its 2005 revival, as the ninth Doctor (Christopher Eccleston) whisked Rose away on the adventure of a lifetime and in return she helped him heal his war-torn soul. Their relationship only deepened when the tenth Doctor arrived in the shape of David Tennant, giving us a TV pairing for the ages.
-- Richard Trenholm, movie and TV senior editor at CNET
Murder, She Wrote
My all time favorite detective is Jessica Fletcher, a mystery writer and amateur detective played by Angela Lansbury on Murder, She Wrote, which ran 12 seasons, from 1984 to 1996. Despite the unusually high number of crimes that occurred in the small town of Cabot Cove, Maine, Jessica was perfectly apt to solve most of them herself even though she wasn't officially a member of law enforcement. She was smart and kind and most certainly didn't need a partner. But as the series progressed, Lansbury expressed concern over keeping up with the pace of filming. She found a compromise where she'd still be the show's lead, but have less screen time. This allowed minor characters to be featured more, and one of those was a private investigator named Harry McGraw played by Jerry Orbach, who would later play Det. Briscoe and become the backbone of the show Law & Order. While Jessica never had a formal partner, Harry as well as Dennis Stanton, a former English jewel thief, and Michael Hagarty, a former MI5 agent, gave the show a new dynamic. Talk about a great show to binge watch.
-- Patrick Holland, senior associate editor at CNET
Right around the time Syfy rebranded itself (the second time in 2009), Warehouse 13 appeared. Myka Berring and Pete Lattimer are two agents partnered to find "artifacts" around the world that cause unusual supernatural, sometimes timey-whimey phenomena. Over the course of five seasons (none of which are currently available for streaming; wth NBC Universal??), the two partners had the perfect chemistry, balancing between work friends and enemies, best friends and possibly something more. Like all terribly great TV couples, however, the buildup was more than the consummation, but none of that could ruin how much fun W13 still is.
-- Caitlin Petrakovitz, engagement editor at CNET
Remington Steele and Scarecrow and Mrs. King
I'm not sure if these '80s procedurals still work today. And in a way, I prefer not to know. But they sure got me hooked on the crime-solving genre. There's also some female empowerment in both. In Remington Steele (1982–1987) Stephanie Zimbalist plays a private detective who basically has to invent a male figure, Remington Steele, to be able to get work. Then Pierce Brosnan shows up and ends up impersonating Steele. But she still gets things done most of the time. And in Scarecrow and Mrs. King (1983-1987), Kate Jackson plays a divorced housewife who ends up becoming a very skilled spy after meeting one, Scarecrow (Bruce Boxleitner), by accident and saving the day. One thing is clear: these two shows (and Moonlighting!) are the precursors of the more recent Bones and Castle and even procedurals with a touch of fantasy like Sleepy Hollow or Lucifer.