In search of more joint ventures like the one between Stabler and Benson?
We all know that at any given time, one of the Law & Orders will be playing on television. Instead of checking the facts, accept the statement as is. NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Organized Crime, starring Christopher Meloni’s brash detective Elliot Stabler, is the newest addition to Dick Wolf’s hugely popular procedural empire. Second-season Organized Crime has provided fans with a much-anticipated reunion between Stabler and his old partner, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), as well as regular crossovers with SVU as Stabler and Benson continue to cross paths. There’s now a ton of new L&O content available for those who want to dig in.
To satisfy your craving for a show with elements of Law & Order, we’ve put together a list of suggestions that should do the trick. Here are eight shows with investigative and legal plots, procedural formats, and central partnerships that are positively dripping with chemistry to get your teeth into:
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1. All Rise
For those of you who find Law & Order’s courtroom dramas lacking, you should give All Rise a try. Former prosecutor Lola Carmichael, played by Simone Missick, is named Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court at the start of the series and begins to push boundaries as soon as she accepts it. A lot of the flavor you’d expect from a show like this is here: case of the week. So you won’t miss Dick Wolf’s love of weighing in on buzzy topics like police brutality or drug rings or alt-right extremists if you read All Rise. However, it also delves into the personal lives of district attorneys, court reporters, and bailiffs who make up the culture of the courthouse itself. The video can be seen on Amazon (and purchased there).
2. The X-Files
Let there be no doubt: Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) invented the concept of the detective team that occasionally butts heads while exuding chemistry and having each other’s backs at all times (at least in my world, they did). So, if you liked Law & Order: SVU’s Benson and Stabler, you’ll enjoy The X-Files a lot too.
You’ll also come across a few surprises: When it comes to The X-Files, it’s a sci-fi show about two FBI agents who look into cases involving the supernatural. It’s Mulder versus Scully: Mulder believes in alien abductions, while Scully is a seasoned skeptic sent to restrain him. Even just for their on-screen chemistry, the show is compelling. A procedural case-of-the-week format with a much larger mythology full of government conspiracies and little green men is balanced by The X-Files, which originally ran for nine seasons starting in 1993 and returned for two more in 2016 and 2018. There are also a few movies thrown in for good measure. The X-Files really sets the bar for absorbing and emotional science fiction television. [See it on Hulu.com]
It’s impossible not to mention Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson when discussing legendary detective teams. Even if you’re a fan of the Cumberbatch-Freeman chemistry on Sherlock and you’re looking for something Sherlockian but with a procedural bent, then Elementary is the show for you. According to the plot of this CBS mystery, Sherlock Holmes is a recovering addict who consults on cases for the New York Police Department and is forced to take on a sober companion due to his father’s influence. Enter Lucy Liu’s Dr. Joan Watson, a former surgeon with medical expertise and natural investigative skills. The show’s chemistry is built on their relationship, which evolves from one of rivalry to one of partnership to that of close friends. For those familiar with the format, the show will feel very familiar, but it also dips into the Sherlock mythology (Natalie Dormer plays a major character who twists that mythology in a new direction) and cleverly pulls from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s source material.. [See it on Hulu.com]
If procedurals are your thing, but you’d prefer something other than police dramas, and you’re okay with things getting a little weird, look no further. The solution lies in the presence of evil. Case of the Week stories are seamlessly woven into the larger, absolutely wild mythology of Robert and Michelle King’s creation, making it one of the best shows on television today. Rather than crimes being investigated by the police, the cases here involve miracles and demonic possession being investigated by the Catholic Church through a ragtag team including priest-in-training David Acosta (Mike Colter), psychologist Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), and contractor, tech guy, and skeptic Ben Shakir (Ben Shakir) (Aasif Mandvi). Stories range from trippy to horrifying, writing is smart and bold. If you like Benson/Stabler sexual tension, wait until you meet Kristen and David. The dynamic between our fearless trio is fantastic from page one. Anyway, I really enjoy this show. [Purchase Paramount+ to see this]
5. The Good Fight
For those who prefer Law & Order’s courtroom dramas and are ready to dive deep into legal quagmires, The Good Fight is the best option available right now. It’s technically a spin-off of Robert and Michelle King’s other legal and political drama The Good Wife, which is entering its fifth season, but it quickly became its own thing. Featuring Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, Delroy Lindo and Cush Jumbo as the main characters, The Good Fight follows the lives of the attorneys at a prestigious Chicago law firm with a preponderance of African American partners. While it’s intelligent, it can also be wacky and meta at times, making bold and thoughtful social and political commentary both inside and outside the courtroom. It’s a thrill to ride through the Good Fight. The movie can be seen on Paramount+.
You can add another layer to the detective duo trope by having one of the detectives investigate the case and then work with a psychopath to solve it. A strange thing happens when Detective Chief Inspector John Luther (Idris Elba) is brought in as a special witness in the case of Alice Morgan’s (Ruth Wilson) parents’ murders. Alice develops a romantic interest in Luther, and their relationship evolves as the series progresses. This psychological thriller series is dark and brooding at times because Luther already had a slew of demons before meeting Alice Morgan. To see this, go to any of the following websites: Hulu, HBO Max, or Starz.
Instead of committing crimes in big cities, why not commit crimes in English beachside towns? Broadchurch’s first season centers on the investigation of a single murder that shakes a small town to its core, and the series’ second and third seasons go on to explore new territory. While the investigation’s progress is fascinating in and of itself, it’s the people who populate this small town who will keep you hooked. DS Ellie Miller is played by Olivia Colman; David Tennant plays DI Alec Hardy, an outsider who comes in to investigate and isn’t the most pleasant person to be around. It’s Colman and Tennant on screen together that really makes things pop, and they’re both excellent in their respective roles. You can see it on Netflix.
Between 2008 and 2011, Washington and Colorado experienced an uptick in the number of reported serial rape cases, which inspired this miniseries. There are two main plot lines in the show: I’ll start with the story of Marie, an 18-year-old rape victim who was wrongly imprisoned for a year for lying to police about the attack she suffered back in 2008. When Toni Collette’s Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Merritt Wever’s Duvall (Merritt Wever) realize that their investigations into sexual assault cases are intertwined, they decide to work together to catch the serial rapist. If you can get through the first two seasons of Unbelievable without falling asleep during the show, you’ll be in for a treat when the third season premieres. You can see it on Netflix.
Law & Order: SVU has no shortage of serial killers or criminal profiling thanks to the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, which was established in the 1970s in response to an increase in homicide and sexual assault cases. Netflix’s Mindhunter, directed by David Fincher, explores the division’s history. In the late 1970s, FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) lead the unit, which visits prisons across the country interviewing incarcerated serial killers like Ed Kemper and Charles Manson to learn more about their mental processes and apply that information to current cases (the BTK killer case is a major throughline). It’s chock-full of contemplative, engrossing visuals and moving performances.