Why Do the Brits Have All the Good Detectives?

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Why Do the Brits Have All the Good Detectives?Photo Source: PBS

As you may know already, I have a thing for British detectives. Lord Peter and Father Brown have been favorites for years. Sherlock, DCS Foyle, and now Endeavor Morse have all won my heart. Heavens!

For the last few years the FishFam has become entertained by a number of different BBC series. We’ve been able to watch them all via Amazon Instant Video. At 90 minutes each, they make for a “movie night” even though they were made for television. I have to think of them as movies, really, because there aren’t as many as I would like there to be. We keep running out of episodes.

Additionally, after watching “TV” this week (Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD), I have to say that the BBC/Masterpiece Mystery has American television beat. Hands down. There’s no contest. And I’m a Marvel Geek!

FishBoy13 asked this week, after viewing episode 4 of Endeavor, “Why do the English have all the great mysteries?” I have no idea, but I’m inclined to agree.

Are you a mystery buff? Do you agree?

Do the Brits have all the good detectives?

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  1. I agree! And you have pointed me in the direction of a few I was not aware of so thank you. I have to say that I do prefer British shows in general over what we have here in the States. Thankful for ways to watch them. 🙂

  2. Do you also watch Inspector Lewis? I like that one, too.

    • That has been recommended to us. We have two or three more episodes of Foyle’s War to watch, the pilot of Endeavor that we somehow skipped, and the last of Sherlock. Then we’ll be trying Inspector Morse and then maybe Lewis. I guess Endeavor is a prequel to those two. #whatageekiam

    • I was going to suggest Lewis too.

    • I was also going to mention Inspector Lewis. I personally liked that one miles more than Morse. Morse irritated me, actually. 🙂 Yes, Endeavor is a prequel, as it is Morse when he is young (and I still like him so far in that one). Inspector Morse is when he has aged and has young Lewis as his assistant. Then Morse is gone and Inspector Lewis is a little older and gets his own assistant. I think Lewis and Hathaway play well together.

      Foyle’s War is fabulous. I somehow missed it when it was on Masterpiece so I had to catch up with the discs from the library and some youtube posts. Loved it.

      Have you seen Dirk Gently? It’s a completely different approach, and is a bit bizarre, and has more comedy than mystery, but we’ve enjoyed the 4 out of 8 episodes so far.

  3. I think we’re better at marketing and pushing it around the world rather than actually having better detective stories. It’s kind of hard to judge as being the best when it’s so hard for many other companies and countries to get their stories out there. Might be interesting to seek out and explore mystery stories from around the world because while British ones are more out there, that doesn’t make them better.

    I mean, the original Sherlock was hated by its author, has so many continuity errors and generally not very readable that it’s more the idea of Sherlock that people seem to like and adapt rather than anything good about the character itself. The BBC’s portrayal’s popularity is hard for me to understand, with abusive behaviour being put forward in such a positive way, with the show writers admitting they think women only want to snag a man, the repeated use of ableist language (the show obviously doesn’t know what a sociopath is and just uses that as an excuse for Sherlock’s behaviour) and the continuing whitewashing of London and the UK.

    • You make some really interesting points. It’s fascinating how one storyline is getting so much mileage (movies, two modern series, etc). Always makes me wonder: is there nothing new under the sun?

      I also wonder about the whitewashing, especially as we plan our trip to England.

  4. I completely agree! Do you have Netflix? Check out British movies. Great stuff. I think America has fallen into a bit of cookie cutter mentality for media. For me, British TV stretches my mind. I honestly don’t enjoy TV if it doesn’t offer something intellectly challenging. British TV totally does that!

  5. The British seem to put so much more effort into their TV shows. Every single episode of “Sherlock” could be a theatrical release. There are great plots, characters, character development — it’s not just explosions and hackneyed “mysteries.” Thanks for the list of others to watch while waiting for more “Sherlock”!

  6. Jennifer B. says:

    I completely agree! I love Sherlock, Endeavour and Foyle’s War. I only wish that they were a bit more family friendly. The story lines are great, plot and characters great, but there have been a few that I wouldn’t want my kids to watch with me. For some reason, they do write the absolute best mystery series! 🙂

    • YES! Most/many things have gone over my kids’ heads, but it has caused me some distress.

      • Jennifer B. says:

        I have decided to just preview most of them. Most still pass (with the exception of the Irene Adler episode from Sherlock) and then I feel more relaxed about them watching. The plots are so incredible but complex…I love having to think while I watch! 🙂

  7. Kim Saint says:

    We’ve had as a family a great time watching different actors portray Sherlock. Out of the older productions, Basil Rathbone is our favorite actor with Benedict Cumberbatch our favorite in the modern. Due to a more mature subject matter, only our older kiddos have watched the BBC Sherlck.
    I can’t think of any modern American detective shows worth watching. In fact, in my humble opinion,
    modern American tv is rarely worth watching. We had our satellite disconnected and got an antenna box. Great decision! One fchannel we’ve discovered is METV which airs shows from the 50’s to the early 80’s. Our kiddo are watching The Rifleman, Emergency, & Gilligan’s Island to name a few. At night my DH and I watch The Twilight Zone and Perry Mason, the 50-60’s version. I love Perry Mason! Even though he’s an attorney, the show revolves around him and his staff solving the crime. Very clever writing. Also, Columbo the detective series from the 70’s, is good. I remember watching it as a child with my Mom. He’s a rumpled looking detective who comes across as a little slow-witted at first but that’s his secret weapon. He’s actually very sluethy and clever!

    • Yeah, the BBC Sherlock, while excellently done, has some content that is not family-friendly. A little disappointing in that. Thanks for the reminder about Columbo. We’ll have to check that out. I don’t remember watching that as a kid.

  8. Yeah, we have all the good detective dramas, but you have all the good sci fi…oh except Doctor Who;-)

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