Criminal procedure and law enforcement shows are a mainstay of television. The genre allows the creative talent behind the shows to borrow from real life events and create stories straight from today's headlines as in Law and Order. You can have a show like Justified that follows the exploits of a U.S. Marshall in rural Kentucky or you can explore the justice system from the viewpoint of big firm lawyers, as in Suits and The Good Wife. You can explore criminal justice in the format of a time travelling cop as in Continuum to tap into the science fiction audience. You can even follow the story of a vigilante serial killer working as a police forensics expert like in Dexter.
The genre is broad enough and life itself represents an infinite source of story lines to accommodate a wide spectrum of perspectives and audience tastes. However, there comes a time when a show has run its course and told as many stories as is fathomable ... or enjoyable. At that point, it is time for the show to be retired. Here are five top rated criminal procedure shows that have run their course and need to be retired.
1. Criminal Minds:
In its eighth season, Criminal Minds follows a team of profilers who travel around the country in a private jet solving crimes committed by serial and spree killers. The show focuses on profiling the criminals, not the crime. The Criminal Minds team is part of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit. It uses behavioral science to assist local law enforcement in their criminal investigations. Now you have to suspend a little bit of disbelief that a) they have a private jet and b) they are all highly skilled marksmen as well as being highly skilled scientists, but such is the nature of TV. After eight seasons of chasing serial and spree killers, it is about time to retire this show. The show tried to do a spin off starring Oscar winner Forrest Whitaker that failed badly.
2. The Mentalist:
The Mentalist stars Simon Baker as a former circus carny, magician, and top-of-his-field psychic. Patrick Jane has become a millionaire as a medium — think Crossings with John Edwards. A life-changing event occurs when his family is murdered by a mysterious Moriarty-type villain known as "Red John." Jane abandons the profession and becomes an outspoken critic of the field. He becomes associated with the California Bureau of Investigation, ostensibly to pursue revenge for the murder of his family, but eventually being hired as an independent consultant. The show has been on for five years, and the creator has said that Red John's identity will be revealed on the last episode. It is time for the last episode.
Bones was inspired by the work of forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs. The show stars Emily Deschanel as Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan, accompanied by David Boreanaz as FBI Special Agent Seely Booth. The show is based on forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology. Brennan leads an elite team of specialists that assist in solving FBI murder cases by examining the human remains of the deceased. The team works for the fictional Jeffersonian Institute Forensic Sciences Department, and includes a forensic artist, an entomologist, a psychologist, a pathologist, and a host of recurring characters representing any number of specialty fields.
The show had its best seasons when it revolved around the "forbidden love" relationship between Brennan and Booth. The show is in its eight season and has been renewed for a ninth season, but I say it is time for this to be its last season.
Crime fiction and mystery writer Richard Castle is at the top of his field. He is friends with the mayor, and because he wants to write a realistic crime novel, he asks and receives permission to become embedded in a New York City detective unit. Castle has written a series of books that put him in the same category as James Patterson, Stephen J. Cannell, Michael Connelly, and Dennis Lehane, and wants to use Detective Kate Beckett as the model for the protagonist in his new series.
Thus begins a series of adventures that find Castle playing the over-eager, rich, would-be detective who often gets in the way of real police work. Beckett and Castle are also in a "forbidden love" relationship and the tension of that environment plays heavily into the story's plot lines. Castle stars Nate Fillion and Stana Kanic and is in its fifth season. The stories have become quite predictable and they aren't funny anymore. It is time for it to fade away into the sunset.
5. NCIS/NCIS: Los Angeles:
NCIS and its spin-off NCIS: Los Angeles have been on for ten and four years respectively. NCIS stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service and they investigate crimes associated with U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine military personnel.
NCIS is a spin-off of J.A. G. (Judge Advocate General), so that makes NCIS LA a spin-off of a spin-off. The units investigate all major criminal offenses (felonies) — i.e., crimes punishable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice by confinement of more than one year. Both shows are known for their character driven action plots, ensemble casts, and comedic element. They require a fair amount of suspension of disbelief and after 10 years of ignoring the obvious flaws in the show regarding military procedures. it may be time for the shows to have their 21 gun salute.
NCIS stars Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette, Cote de Pablo, Sean Murray, and Michael Weatherly, while NCIS: LA stars Chris O’Donnell, LL Cool J, Linda Hunt, Daniella Ruah, and Eric Christian Olsen. By now, All of them should be starring in something else.
Honorable Mention: Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (c’mon no Stabler), and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation/CSI: New York.