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. (That doesn’t need to be checked for accuracy; just accept it as is.) NBC’s Law & Order: Organized Crime, starring Christopher Meloni as brash detective Elliot Stabler, is the latest 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. To summarize, fans of L&O will have no shortage of new material to enjoy.
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 you hooked.
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1. All Rise
If Law & Order’s courtroom dramas aren’t up to par for you, it’s time to check out All Rise. Former prosecutor Lola Carmichael, played by Simone Missick, has just been named Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court when the series begins, and she immediately begins to push boundaries in her new position.
Although this series does have a strong sense of case-of-the-week appeal because it tackles a variety of hot-button issues, you won’t be missing Dick Wolf’s penchant for weighing in on hot-button issues, but it also explores the private lives of district attorneys, court reporters, and bailiffs who make up the culture of the court. The video can be seen on Amazon (where you can also buy it).
2. The X-Files
Truth be told, Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) invented the concept of an investigative team that occasionally butts heads but exudes chemistry and always, always has each other’s backs no matter what the situation may be (at least in my world, they did). If you liked Law & Order: SVU’s Benson and Stabler, you’ll enjoy The X-Files’ Mulder and Scully characters. You’ll also come across some unusual territory: 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. The following video can be seen on Hulu:
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. Sherlock Holmes is a recovering addict who consults with the New York Police Department and is forced to take on a sober companion by his father, who hires Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson, a former surgeon whose medical expertise and natural talent for investigation work prove invaluable to Holmes.
The seventh season of this CBS drama ended with its seventh season in 2019. 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 original source material. The following video can be seen on Hulu:
In other words, you enjoy procedurals, but you’d prefer not to watch cop shows, and you don’t mind the oddball antics? The scourge of evil is the solution. 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 (Katja Herber) (Aasif Mandvi). There is a great chemistry between our brave trio from the start, and the plots range from the trippy to the downright terrifying. The writing is sharp and daring, too. 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. The Good Wife is a spin-off of Robert and Michelle King’s other legal and political drama, but the show quickly became its own entity and is now gearing up for a fifth season. The Good Fight follows the attorneys at a prestigious Chicago law firm, led by Christine Baranski, Audra McDonald, Delroy Lindo, and Cush Jumbo. 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+.
The detective-homicidal psychopath trope can be given a layered spin by having the detective investigate and then work with the psychopath. Alice Morgan’s (Ruth Wilson) parents were murdered, and Detective Chief Inspector John Luther (Idris Elba) is called in to investigate. He knows right away that something is wrong with her, but he cannot prove it. Alice develops a romantic interest in Luther, and their relationship evolves as the series progresses. It’s safe to say Luther had a lot of demons before meeting Alice Morgan, so this psychological thriller series can get a little gloomy and melancholy. 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 focuses on the investigation of a single murder that shakes a small town to its core, and the series’ second and third seasons go on from there. 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; DI Alec Hardy is played by David Tennant. Tennant plays an outsider who comes to investigate and isn’t the easiest to get along with. 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. A teen and sexual assault victim named Marie (Kaitlyn Dever) is wrongly accused of lying about the rape she suffered in 2008 after a series of bizarre events. 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.
It is common knowledge that the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit is involved in Law & Order: SVU, but that is only because of the work done by the unit after an increase in homicide and sexual assault cases occurred in the 1970s. The origins of that division are explored in David Fincher’s Netflix original series Mindhunter. 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 then 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.