Friday, June 16, 2017

FFB: The Critics' Choice: The Best of Crime and Detective TV -- Max Allan Collins & Allan Javna

This book was published in 1988, so you might think it's a little bit out of date.  Not so, however, or at least not so in the ways that count.  It's still just as much fun to read and just as insightful as ever.  Not to mention just as opinionated:  ". . . we do not pretend to be the definitive volume on the subject.  We are here to have a good time -- to praise some shows, to bury others, and damn near ignore some that we don't care for."

How did the authors arrive at their rankings?  ". . . a poll taken among mystery fans, mystery writers, and TV critics.  A ballot was published in Mystery Scene, the news magazine of the mystery and horror field, and both fans and professionals were invited to participate; later, a slightly revised ballot was mailed to a select group of prominent mystery writers and critics [disclaimer: I was one].  Those participating were encouraged to make write-in selections and express dissenting opinions."

Here's something interesting.  While the amateur sleuth shows were closely bunched, with five shows in almost a tie for the top spot, in the private-eye area two shows were easily the favorites, The Rockford Files and Harry-O.  Mannix was "mostly unloved."  In the cop show field, Hill Street Blues and Dragnet were tops, with Cagney and Lacey at the bottom.

The book is full of essays on the shows, comments from critics, and photos.  Highly recommended.  Cheap copies abound on the internet.

12 comments:

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Wow, that sounds like a book I should add to my crime-fiction reference shelf.

Thanks,
Jeff

Bill Crider said...

It's not scholarly, but it's more fun than the usual reference book.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Wow. You're a prominent mystery writer and critic. Who knew?

Jerry House said...

A highly enjoyable labor of love.

Rick Robinson said...

Sounds interesting, but I'd probably just breeze through it once and then...what? Stick it on a shelf? Toss it? Donate it?

Bill Crider said...

Or keep it for years like I did and breeze through it again, which is just as much fun as reading it for the first time.

Gary R. said...

A fun book to browse through, I've had a copy for many years. Always hoped there would be a companion volume on TV Westerns.

Todd Mason said...

Do you remember what you plumped for, Bill? Alas, DRAGNET at its best wasn't up there with CAGNEY & LACEY at its best...but nothing so far beats HOMICIDE among cop shows, even given THE WIRE...

Bill Crider said...

When I was reading through the book, I tried to remember my comments, but I couldn't.

Steve Lewis said...

Never knew this book existed. Now I have to have a copy!

Max Allan Collins said...

Thanks for this blast from the past, Bill. I remember how embarrassed I was when whoever put the cover together mentioned "Steven King" (or was that on the inside?).

Don Coffin said...

Ordered...Max, it's going for around $4 at ABE.