Critical and Cultural Studies | Television

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Americans love a good murder – as long as it takes place on television and the perpetrator is apprehended within an hour. Crime dramas are one of the most popular genres of programming available today, a trend that shows no sign of waning. Megan Larson of Media Week wrote in 2004 that eight of the top twenty five shows on network television were crime related. She also noted that the series Law and Order was entering its fifteenth year – quite a feat in the here-today-gone tomorrow world of broadcast television. The most recent Nielsen ratings indicated that seven of the top twenty shows had a crime theme and NCIS held the number one spot. It does appear that little has changed in the past five years.

Crime is popular across the pond as well, and the UK, better known for its more traditional who-dun-it-style of detective show, has slowly been ramping up its crime genre offerings with shows like Prime Suspect and Spooks. Wire in the Blood (which ran for six seasons and ended in 2008) may be the UK’s grittiest contribution yet. The series' main focus is Tony Hill, a psychotherapist played by Robson Green who has an eerie ability to seemingly enter the mind of serial killers. He works closely with Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Carol Jordan (Hermione Norris), who relies heavily on his profiling skills to help determine the direction of her investigation. The show can be grossly violent, somewhat shocking, and tends to lack many of the elements common in its American counterparts, but for fans of the genre, it is worth tracking down and watching.