Cracked the Case: The Top 10 Oddball TV Detective Duos
01.28.14 by Ryan
One of the most enduring genres in television is the buddy cop drama, often benefiting from the comedic and/or dramatic tension caused by the disparate characters' interactions. REELZ's police-drama Cracked is no exception, even if it offers a new twist on the genre.
Currently airing its second season, Detective Aidan Black (David Sutcliffe) has a new partner in Dr. Clara Malone (Brooke Nevin), a psychiatrist that helps Black through his post-traumatic stress disorder while they solve cases for the newly-formed Psych Crimes and Crisis Unit. A cop and a psychiatrist are an unusual pairing for a police drama, which got us thinking: what are the oddest TV detective duos of all time? Check out our Top Ten.
A Cop Show With Heart
10. Detective Sikes and Francisco, Alien Nation
Of course, the buddy cop genre benefits from the personality conflicts that arise from the disparate natures of the two main characters, but Alien Nation takes that formula to a whole new dimension — specifically, the dimension where the Tectonese come from. Based on the 1988 movie of the same name, the 1989-1990 Fox TV series followed Los Angeles Detective Matthew Sikes (Gary Graham) as he reluctantly partners with George Francisco (Eric Pierpoint), one of the alien "Newcomers" who have landed on Earth. Outside of dealing with Francisco getting drunk on sour milk, at one point Sikes had to help his partner give birth.
10. Agents Fox Mulder and Dr. Dana Scully, The X-Files
It's only appropriate that a show that followed investigations of paranormal activity would include two ideologically opposed characters. FBI Special Agent Mulder (David Duchovny) is the "believer" that "the truth is out there" when it comes to extraterrestrials, while Scully (Gillian Anderson) is the skeptical realist, who tries to debunk Mulder's theories and try to provide a more scientific answer for every case they investigate. The push and pull between the two built a fervent fanbase of the show, which also went on to produce two movies, with Scully eventually becoming a believer after Mulder is abducted by aliens at the end of the show's seventh season.
8. Batman and Robin, Batman
Considering Batman's long-standing place in pop culture, the "World's Greatest Detective" may not register as unusual, but if one is to take a step and look at it, Batman and Robin may be one of the weirder duos ever created. While both Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson may bond over the respective deaths of their families, an adult billionaire joining forces with a teenage boy seems not only very unlikely but also a little creepy. The fact that no one suspected Wayne and his teenage ward may indeed be the Dynamic Duo may be the biggest gift audiences ever gave creator Bob Kane. Then again, if your city is constantly plagued by villains like the Penguin and The Riddler, anything is fair game.
7. Michael Knight and K.I.T.T., Knight Rider
Knight Rider took a police detective who was left for dead, gave him a new identity and paired him with a souped-up Trans Am loaded with artificial intelligence. Working for a privately-funded, public justice program, what kind of cases would Michael Knight (David Hasselhoff) and his Knight Industries Two Thousand solve? Ones where
"direct action might provide the only feasible solution." Translation: wherever Knight can drive KITT through a wall.
6. Detective Brooke Mackenzie and Dr. Jonathan Chase, Manimal
When you're a police detective on the trail of a group of thieves intending to steal nerve gas, there's only one person to turn to for help: a wealthy, dapper shape-shifting man who can turn into any animal he chooses. Such was the first episode of NBC's 1983 action-adventure Manimal, which only got eight tries to show how a cop and a shape-shifter can work together to solve crimes before it was pulled from the schedule. The results were a bit on the campy side, but the impression was lasting; Sony is apparently looking to make an animated/live-action movie.
Sometimes you need a novice superhero and a federal agent to save the world. The show about a teacher (William Katt) who is given a suit that gives him superpowers by aliens and teams with an FBI special agent (Robert Culp) to foil Presidential assassinations, find Russian defectors and stop World War III. The magic only lasted for 3 seasons, but the theme song will live forever. Believe it or not.
4. Special Agent Cooper and Sheriff Harry S. Truman, Twin Peaks
To be fair, it's hard to remember if the combination of Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Sheriff Truman (Michael Ontkean) was odd or if it was the entire show that was odd. After all, coffee drinking and cherry pie-loving Agent Cooper and was certainly quirky, but perhaps it was the search for an incorporeal serial killer in one of the strangest towns ever that made the duo so strange. In fact, the interplay between the down-to-earth Truman and the eccentric Cooper was instantly friendly, and may have been one of the more normal aspects of the otherwise odd show, which was filled with women talking to logs and strangely prophetic dreams set in red draped rooms. However, after two seasons and a 1992 prequel movie, it's hard to forget about Cooper and Truman's forged partnership, which was filled with philosophical lessons.
3. Maddie Hayes and David Addison, Moonlighting
The male/female pairing is a TV staple at this point, as well as the "will they/won't they" sexual tension, which can be mostly attributed to ABC's Moonlighting. The show, which lasted only 5 seasons, followed a financially ruined, former model (Cybill Shepherd), who is convinced to become involved in one of her businesses, a detective agency run by a fun-loving goofball (Bruce Willis). While Maddie tried to make the business lucrative, David was out to have a good time, and the sexual tension between the two brought audiences to wonder if the two would ever hook up. Of course they eventually did, which may or may not have led to the series' demise. However, at a time where shows like Remington Steele and Scarecrow and Mrs. King were already on television, it was the unlikely pairing of Shepherd and Willis that put Moonlighting above the rest.
2. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo, Various
Since their debut in 1969, Shaggy and Scooby have often worked as a part of Mystery Incorporated, but always as a tandem. While neither would be called upon to solve the mysteries, their involvement was paramount in flushing out the guilty parties. Of course, a guy and his dog are unusual company for a team of crime-solving teens, but hey, it's a cartoon. But then, there's the fact that Shaggy and Scooby enjoy the same snack food. And are always hungry. And laughing. And then hungry again. You get the idea. If that doesn't make for an odd crime-solving pair, then we don't know what.
1. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Various
One of the original — if not the original — oddball pairings in crime-solving history is the straight-laced Dr. John Watson and the brilliant, but eccentric, Sherlock Holmes. Originally created in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes and Watson didn't make their television debut until the BBC series Sherlock Holmes in 1951, following Basil Rathbone's 14 appearances as Holmes on the big screen. However, with the "buddy cop" subgenre being as pervasive as it is on television, a return to the Holmes and Watson duo is inevitable every decade or so, as evidenced by the not one, but two current television series featuring the characters.