True Detective (and the Top 10 Detective Duos)
With its first season out on Blu-Ray and DVD next week, True Detective is the latest in a long line of hit series from HBO that has included the likes of The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Games of Thrones, to name just a small handful.
Starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle, True Detective is set in Louisiana, home to its creator Nic Pizzolatto, and details the story of two very different types of detective whose lives and careers become entangled during the 17-year hunt for a serial killer. The narrative switches back and forth between 1995, when the first murder victim is discovered, and the present day, where the two detectives have become estranged and Cohle is no longer the sharp, smart cop of old and has descended into alcoholism.
The murders themselves are pretty grisly. When the first victim is found she is naked and bound to a tree with a set of antlers attached to her head, the kind of scene that has seen the show’s many fans taking to the internet to swap theories on the killer (everyone from Marty’s wife to the Bilderbergers, in case you were wondering).
Really though the show is as much about the relationship between the two detectives as it is about the murders themselves. In many ways it’s the classic chalk-and-cheese scenario with Cohle’s brilliance and arrogance constantly irritating the steady and pragmatic Hart, but what sets it apart is the performances from McConaughey and Harrelson that produce a compelling onscreen anti-chemistry.
A second season has already been commissioned, although McConaughey confirmed a few weeks ago that he would not not be involved and Pizzolatto said himself this week in an interview with NPR that there will be no reprised roles from the first season, also stating that casting should be completed and announced by the end of this month.
So we may have seen the last of this particular onscreen detective duo, but fear not: we’ve put together a list of the ten best detective duos in screen history to help you through the disappointment…
Alec Hardy & Ellie Miller
ITV’s critically acclaimed drama series Broadchurch has produced a new detective duo in the form of Alec Hardy, played by David Tennant, and Ellie Miller, who is more than ably portrayed by Olivia Colman who, incidentally, just bagged herself a BAFTA TV award for her performance in the series. We sense this is a series that could run and run.
Martin Riggs & Roger Murtaugh
(from Lethal Weapon)
How could we not include the alter egos of Mel Gibson & Danny Glover from Lethal Weapon? Riggs & Murtaugh is the classic chalk-and-cheese cop pairing and one that specialises in large amounts of unnecessary destruction, making it a high-octane partnership that embodies the very spirit of the 80s action flick.
Shaggy & Scooby-Doo
Now, before anyone starts thinking ‘hang on, they don’t count, they’re just cartoons’, bear in mind that there have been more than 320 episodes featuring the cowardly hippy (whose real name Norville Rogers) and his snack-obsessed canine buddy since the show’s inception in 1969. That’s over 320 criminals behind bars folks, so while they may not exactly be role models for the policing profession, nobody could claim that they aren’t effective.
Mike Lowrey & Marcus Burnett
(from Bad Boys)
Although they’ve only appeared on screen together twice, the Bad Boys cop duo played by Will Smith and Martin Lawrence have so much chemistry they have turned the two films into cult classics. Mike Lowrey’s suave, smooth, rich-kid cop is brilliantly complemented by Marcus Burnett’s hen-pecked family man persona, and as much as they argue with each other their bond is unbreakable. Cool, streetwise and very funny, they’re a classic detective duo for the modern era.
Linden & Holder
(from The Killing)
Of all the more recent crime series to hit our screens, none have captured the public’s imagination quite so well as The Killing. Already a hit in Denmark and the UK with the original version (named Forbrydelsen) and having single-handedly rejuvenated the Scandanavian knitwear industry, AMC’s remake added an undercurrent of romantic tension between Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder that his proved a smash in the US.
Sonny Crockett & Tubbs
(from Miami Vice)
There were a whole host of crime-busting duos to be found on our screens in the 1980s, with the likes of Moonlighting’s David Addison Jr. and Maddie Hayes or Cagney and Lacey regularly busting the bad guys on a weekly basis, but none of them looked quite as good doing it as Miami Vice’s Sonny Crockett and Tubbs, and if we were going to order this list on the basis of who looks the best in a white linen suit jacket, Don Johnson would be right at the top. Backed up by Jan Hammer’s iconic soundtrack, Crockett and Tubbs were the coolest detective duo around by some distance.
Fox Mulder & Dana Scully
(from The X-Files)
Their field of investigation may have been a little out of the ordinary remit of most FBI agents, but Fox Mulder and Dana Scully were the perfect case of ‘opposites attract’. Mulder’s open-minded conviction coupled with Scully’s scientific scepticism made for the perfect match as it is, but throw in the kind of sexual tension you could cut with a knife and you’ve got a partnership that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats throughout every bizarre and supernatural episode.
David Starsky & Ken Hutchinson
(from Starsky & Hutch)
The duo that turned the Ford Gran Torino into one of the planet’s coolest automobiles, Starsky and Hutch are the classic American detective pairing. Helped by their pimp-turned-informant friend, the jive-talking Huggy Bear, the rule-breaking loose cannons played by David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser produced nearly a hundred episodes and more recently spawned a comedic remake starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, not forgetting Snoop Dogg’s role as the fur-coat wearing pimp. Starsky & Hutch set the template for buddy cop TV shows, one that is still mimicked by many shows today.
Inspector Morse & Lewis
(from Inspector Morse)
Inspector Morse remains one of ITV’s most successful series. Having spawned two spin-offs in Lewis and new prequel series Endeavour, the adventures of the curmudgeonly Oxford detective and his faithful sidekick continue to fascinate viewers after more than 25 years on our screens. Utilising his natural intuition and incredible memory, Morse has put more murderers behind bars than most and remains an all-time favourite for millions.
Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson
It was always going to be Sherlock and Watson at the top, wasn’t it? Arthur Conan Doyle’s deerstalker-wearing hero had already been dramatised on our screens many times before Steven Moffat’s latest incarnation starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman rejuvenated the detective and brought him right into the 21st century. Holmes’ arrogant brilliance and Watson’s apparently limitless patience make for the perfect detective duo, one that we’re sure has plenty of mileage left in it yet.
True Detective will be available in stores from June 9th. In the meantime, watch an exclusive clip from the DVD extras below!