In the early 2000s, shows about police consultants were all the rage. Most followed a similar pattern – humor, mystery, romance. Over the years, I caught many of these shows on streaming platforms. Despite a similar premise, each show is entertaining and unique because of its star character. The case and plot are often secondary to the character interactions. In this list, I will describe some of my favorites.
1. Dr. Walter Bishop - Fringe
Walter is the definition of a mad scientist. After 17 years in a psychiatric hospital, he is asked to help the FBI investigate cases in fringe science. Walter is an eccentric genius with gaps in his memories. Between flashes of brilliance, Walter displays childlike tenancies. His cravings for red licorice, root-beer floats, and pastries present during gruesome autopsies. However, the brilliance of Walter is the memories his cravings trigger. A perfect root-beer float spurs the solution to spontaneous combustion. Throughout the run of Fringe, the audience experiences every side of the Harvard scientist. We see the egotistical man playing god and the broken father yearning for his son's forgiveness. How did John Noble never win an Emmy?
"Unless you have an IQ higher than mine, I'm not interested in what you think!" - Walter Bishop
2. Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan - Bones
Dr. Brennan is a forensic anthropologist at the Jeffersonian Institute. She and her team of consultants work with the FBI to solve particularly gruesome crimes. Brennan is brilliant, direct, blunt, and lacks people skills. She speaks for the dead when no one else can. Very little stumps Brennan besides pop culture or her partner, Agent Seeley Booth. Brennan isn't the typical scientist. She enjoys punching suspects and often requests her own gun so she can shoot people.
"Forensic anthropologist! That's why no gun." - Temperance Brennan
3. Patrick Jane - Mentalist
Patrick Jane became a consultant for the CBI after the serial killer Red John murdered his wife and daughter. Jane vowed to catch Red John and get revenge for their deaths. The pursuit of the killer spanned many seasons. In the meantime, Jane solves crime using trickery, misdirection, hypnotization, and of course mentalism. His background as a carnival psychic prepared him for a life of observing and reading suspects. Jane is known for drinking tea and wears a three-piece suit without a tie. Though not psychic, he is a jack-of-all-trades. He is a skilled magician, pick-pocket, chess champion, card shark, and possess an excellent memory. Jane is spontaneous, funny, and a bit of a coward. He isn't afraid to hide behind his cop partners when the bullets start flying. Why does the CBI put up with Jane's shenanigans? He closes cases, every one of them.
"They (doctors) always want to be the smartest person in the room, don't they? When in fact that's me, obviously." - Patrick Jane
4. Adrian Monk - Monk
Adrian Monk is a private police homicide consultant for the San Francisco Police Department. Monk suffers from OCD and a litany of phobias. These tendencies intensified with the murder of his wife, Trudy. Through the help of his assistant Sharona, and later Natalie, Monk investigates crimes. He is a mix of Sherlock Holmes and Columbo with a nutty edge. With each case, Monk battles his fears and navigates a world that terrifies him. He enjoys balance, symmetry, and structure. These obsessions and an eye for detail make Monk a brilliant detective. He notices things normal people overlook. He once solved a crime because the dress shirt he purchased was not up to his usual standard. Due to the decline in quality, he discovered inspector #8 was in trouble. His skills are "a gift and a curse".
5. Richard Castle - Castle
Rick Castle is a best selling mystery writer and consultant for the NYPD. After killing off his star character, Castle is in need of a new muse. Enter NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett. Castle makes a deal with the Mayor to help Beckett solve murders. Castle solves crimes by spinning outlandish stories until he zeroes-in on the truth. He is charming, immature, stubborn, and witty. He ignores instructions to wait outside and runs into danger to protect his partner. Castle finds his everyday world boring and enjoys the thrill of police work.
“There are two kinds of folks who sit around thinking about how to kill people: psychopaths and mystery writers.” - Rick Castle
Shawn Spencer - Psych
Peter Bishop - Fringe