I’m assuming this is how police work really is…sometimes it’s just waiting around, and sometimes it’s busier than can be. This HBO series goes into the inner-workings of a special task force of police detectives who work on complicated, complex cases…cases that require more time than most police would be willing to give. Season one deals with the tracking down of a drug kingpin in the Baltimore (where the show is set) projects. The entire season of shows is based on this one case…which is also how subsequent seasons are as well. No, it’s not boring…they catch small members of the drug gang and then they just keep working up the food chain until the catch some big fish. It’s intense and riveting and as exciting as any cop show I’ve seen (maybe even more exciting) even though the cast of criminals stays the same. If you like crime stories on TV, this one is a must!

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Once you start watching, chances are you won’t be able to stop! I mean, this show is truly addictive. Basically, it revolves around four gay friends in Pittsburgh… “friends” being the key word since, aside from the occasional experiment, they remain platonic. I would say the main character of the three is Brian Kinney, the self-obsessed ad exec who comes across as narcissistic but really will go to any lengths to help his friends. Aside from Brian, there is Michael—the most middle-of-the-road, Emmett—the most flamboyant, Ted—the most uptight, and Justin—the most innocent. They all go in and out of relationships together, talk about one-night-stands together, go through life crises together, drink together, workout together, etc. Also mixed in are Debbie, Michael’s wild and outspoken mother, and Mel and Linz, two lesbians who have a child fathered by Brian (and another one later on fathered by Michael). Debbie adds quite a lot of spice to the show, with her opinions on everything. But, the show is definitely spicy on its own with its graphic content. Leave it to cable (Showtime) to come up with something this controversial and ultra-contemporary.

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Like Detective Inspector Jack Frost of the A Touch of Frost series, Chief Inspector Morse is grumpy. He’s what I would call a curmudgeon. But, somehow, we love him. He loves classical music…especially opera, drives his classic Jag, loves the ladies but is a confirmed bachelor, and most of all loves his beer. Along with his trusty and more passive sidekick, Detective Sgt. Lewis, Morse travels about the Oxford area solving crime and frequenting pubs. The crimes and cases are all top-notch…almost perfectly constructed. Each episode is filled with so much information and so many details that if you blink, you miss something. The chemistry between Morse and Lewis is strong…Lewis is less cultured and more agreeable and Morse is extremely set-in-his-ways. But, the two of them make a great crime-solving team. And, like some shows, Morse does not “instantly” solve the crime…like some shows that have the detective be almost psychic or superhuman with their investigating skills. Here, the cases are all solved methodically and with great effort. Sometimes, it’s nice to know that even a great detective gets stumped.

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These are pretty conventional mysteries — you have the brooding, troubled inspector and the quick-witted side-kick, who this time happens to be a woman. It’s like Sherlock and Watson for the 20th Century. And, like most of the Holmes’ mysteries, these are intelligent without being too convoluted. The pacing is not more than the audience can handle…which for me is very important in murder mysteries where there are sometimes are too many characters to keep straight. Here, all of the stories begin with the murder/crime and then the police come in…it works to set a certain standard. Also, the thing that sets this one apart from other detective shows is the chemistry between Lynley and Havers. There are obvious times of attraction but they never seem to be at the right moments. The “do they/don’t they” question adds even more “mystery” to these already strong stories.

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