Watching the Detectives: Fall Season’s Top Five Sleuthing Series

In our ongoing attempt to remain topical around here, we’ve been emphasizing the presidential campaign and the weekly debates (both presidential and vice presidential) for the last few weeks in our weekly Top Five.

But even though there was a debate this week — the third and last confrontation between President Obama and Mitt Romney — we’re kind of feeling like Jon Stewart, who mentioned this week on one of his shows that even he is overdosing on politics, and following the presidential race happens to be his job.

So this week, we’re turning our attention back to “regular” TV, and some of the scripted series we’ve been sampling ever since the new fall season began last month.

And, since we’re really liking some of the cop shows this season, we thought we’d assemble five of them right here. It’s a Top Five we call “Watching the Detectives” (yes, any opportunity to use an Elvis Costello song title in a story and headline is an opportunity we won’t hesitate to seize).

So, we invite you to watch ’em too — starting with:

1) “Elementary”: No. 1 happens to be Sherlock Holmes. That’s a no-brainer, right? In this week’s episode, CBS’s 21st-century super-sleuth was hired by a New York investment firm to find its missing COO. As you might expect, Sherlock found a lot more than a missing executive. Jonny Lee Miller stars as Sherlock, with Lucy Liu as Watson. Guest star: Craig Bierko.

Watch the latest episode of “Elementary”:
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2) “Vegas”: Yes, “Vegas” is another CBS show, but we can’t help that — CBS happens to have a number of TV’s best sleuth series. And like “Elementary,” CBS likes “Vegas” so much that it’s been picked up for an entire season (which always fuels hope that a show will earn a second season as well). That’s OK with us: We happen to like TV shows that combine gangsters and gambling, and this one is right up our alley. Dennis Quaid’s the detective in this one, with Michael Chiklis as an out-of-town mob kingpin who aims to take over the town. In this week’s episode, a young union organizer was murdered, and Sheriff Ralph Lamb (Quaid) was on the case.

Watch this week’s episode of “Vegas”:
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3) “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”: The action on “Vegas” takes place in the ’60s, but CBS’s other Las Vegas-based detective series is very much rooted in the present day. But the thing we found interesting about this week’s episode of “CSI”: It involved the murder of a music historian who was an expert on the music of Sin City from the 1960s. So it was almost like one CBS show “commenting” on, or at least referencing another — from one era to the other.

Watch this week’s episode of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”:
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4) “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”: The last survivor of the “Law & Order” dynasty is alive and well on NBC. This week’s episode opened with a scene that was almost too scary to watch, particularly if you live in New York and have first-hand experience with the chaos of crowded, tumultuous subway station platforms. In the show, a man is separated from his young son in a platform throng, and sees the boy being ushered onto a jam-packed train by a strange man. And the doors close and the father can’t get on. This scene gave us goosebumps.

Find out what happened when Det. Benson (Mariska Hargitay) got on the case — watch:
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5) “Castle”: Forgive us for bending the Top Five rules here, but this upcoming episode of “Castle” was from Oct. 15, from a week earlier. But the thing is: There was no “Castle” this past Monday because of the presidential debate Monday night. And what would a Top Five roundup of detective shows be without “Castle”? The answer: Incomplete. So here’s “Castle” — an episode titled “Murder, He Wrote,” which we thought was very cheeky since it references “Murder, She Wrote,” one of the best-loved detective series in the history of television.

Watch the most recent episode of ABC’s “Castle”:
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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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