One Case Murder/Mystery Shows Like “True Detective”

The one case serialized mystery format was popularized by early 90’s cult hit “Twin Peaks” and then revitalized in 2007 by the breakaway Danish series “Forbrydelsen” (The Killing).  With “True Detective” being the phenomenon that it is, I’d say it’s safe to assume networks have just started dipping into the well and we will see more of these sprout up over the next couple of years.

All of these shows center a season or more around the investigation of a single murder case.  They heavily rely on the detective(s) to move the story along and all but two of them feature the odd couple, contrasting partner dynamic that McConaughey and Harrelson pull off so well on “True Detective.”

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

The granddaddy of them all, both in age and quality (at least the first main arc). Part murder investigation, part supernatural, part soap opera,

Top of The Lake

Top of The Lake

Airing in the U.S. on the Sundance Channel, this New Zealand miniseries is probably the most similar to "True Detective." It uses the same scenic, landscape style aesthetic and is also truly bizarre without delving into anything supernatural.

The Killing

The Killing

AMC's "The Killing" started off strong, but made huge errors at the end of season one and went a little off the rails with political subplots. It was cancelled on AMC and then picked up by Netflix.

Forbrydelsen (The Killing)

Forbrydelsen (The Killing)

The original "The Killing." The show that started the rejuvenation of mysteries, becoming such a hit in Denmark that it was also shown (with subtitles) to British audiences. Worthy of a watch even if you've seen the AMC version - the killers are not the same.

Broen/Bron (The Bridge)

Broen/Bron (The Bridge)

A body is placed halfway in Sweden and halfway in Denmark, allowing for the odd couple detective pairing of Saga Noren and Martin Rohde. One a socially inept savant, the other your sort of every man rough and tumble detective. The relationship and chemistry between them is what makes the series.

The Bridge

The Bridge

An FX remake of "Broen/Bron" that instead uses the U.S./Mexico border. Have not seen the show yet, but it appears to be on solid ground with critics as it is currently sitting at 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Broadchurch

Broadchurch

The most recent installment of the gloomy, small town murder mystery, "Broadchurch" is another show that is highly acclaimed. Like "Broen/Bron," it uses a genius/weird detective paired with the everyman, but the gender roles are reversed - the woman is the salt of the earth type and the man is the eclectic wonder.

Prime Suspect

Prime Suspect

"Prime Suspect" starring the legendary Helen Mirren is more a series of mini-movies than a television series, but it is superb nonetheless. It covers the procedural side of the investigation far more heavily than the other featured shows.

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