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Genre Hoppers: Former Sitcom Stars Who Solve Crimes


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Remember the days when former sitcom stars would follow up their hits with shows where their new character solves crimes? Think Matlock (Andy Griffith solves crimes), Diagnosis: Murder (Dick Van Dyke solves crimes), Barnaby Jones (Jed Clampett solves crimes), Quincy ME (Oscar Madison solves crimes), etc.

If this trend made a comeback, which stars of yesteryear would you like to see solves crimes in a new show? Matt LeBlanc? Courtney Cox? Ashton and Mila?

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First person that came to mind would be the former star of Two Guys, a Girl And a Pizza Place:

320px-Deadpool_2_Japan_Premiere_Red_Carp

Of course, there's the whole issue of Deadpool, but we could solve that by going with the Batman setup by pairing the "Merc with a Mouth" with a police force. With the film series kind of stuck in a bit of a rut right now, why not transform it into a TV series? I would watch for sure.

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Hmmm, the Brady kids could form a detective agency.   

Or since all the examples given were men, let's have a woman.   Thinking about it I realized I didn't watch a lot of comedies, so suggestions welcome.  Apparently Zooey Deschanel got a haircut so doesn't look like her comedy self anymore.  She could do it.

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12 hours ago, Egg McMuffin said:

Remember the days when former sitcom stars would follow up their hits with shows where their new character solves crimes? Think Matlock (Andy Griffith solves crimes), Diagnosis: Murder (Dick Van Dyke solves crimes), Barnaby Jones (Jed Clampett solves crimes), Quincy ME (Oscar Madison solves crimes), etc.

Lou Grant.

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Well, currently representing the ladies in that category could be Candace Cameron-Bure, formerly of Full House (and Fuller House) and now solving crimes as Aurora Teagarden. They're movies instead of a show, but there are more of them than there are episodes of some shows.

I can imagine almost anyone from Modern Family's cast playing a detective in a drama.  But now that the idea is in my head, I'd rather imagine the entire Pritchett-Delgado/Dunphy clan opening a private detective agency, and that would have to be a sitcom so it no longer fits the thread category.

And I would love to see Marla Gibbs as a new Jessica Fletcher-type of detective, but she's in her 80's and might not be up for that kind of work schedule.

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I'm seconding Zoey Deschanel. Since she's not a "scene stealer" she could be great for a more straight up procedural where she'd need to "blend in" a bit more but has the stage presence that, if she desired a show centred around her, she could lead it.

In this regard, Mayam Bialik would be a fit here too.

While we're talking about The Big Bang Theory, does Kaley Cuoco deserve a chance to wield the badge? I'm not sure she could be the unquestioned lead, but she could still be the central figure of an ensemble at least.

As for some others...

How about Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a snarky detective who makes the perps sweat in interrogation and puts them in their place?

Speaking of snark...Tina Fey, anyone?

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) had a great turn as a criminal on Criminal Minds. Maybe it's time for her to play a role on the other side.

Elaborating on Criminal Minds, I might be stretching the definition of who can be included in this thread, but since she had a memorable turn on Friends and was even a main character on a short-lived sitcom (Grandfathered), and because I believe she deserves a show where she is truly the centrepiece, Paget Brewster.

Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) tried with Stumptown. Since the issues I have with that show are more about the writing and not with Smulders (who did make it watchable for a while), I think she deserves another chance at a police procedural.

If we're including the Disney shows as sitcoms (which, they technically are), then I'm also nominating Elizabeth Gillies (Victorious) and, if she ever decides to go back into acting, Jeannette McCurdy (Sam & Cat).

Also, since I learned she's now 19 and deserves an actual acting career, Holly J. Barrett (Life in Pieces) would make a fantastic, snarky young sleuth. Maybe one that gets on the nerves of Captain Louis-Dreyfus...

Lastly- not that I want to derail the conversation about women who deserve a shot, because I think that's a conversation worth having- since I thought of them, there are a few other men I want to throw out there for consideration:

Is it Neil Patrick Harris' time? He might be a bit over the top for a police procedural but he's also an incredibly gifted actor so I think he deserves a chance on a crime show.

Speaking of Harris' other erstwhile castmates...since both can still command the screen but also deliver understated performances when necessary, Jason Segel and Kal Penn deserve mentions. Especially Penn, who actually has experience as a lead character on a TV drama (Designated Survivor).

Plus, Penn is a person of colour and we need more POCs in lead roles on TV in general, not just on police procedurals.

Another POC who could deserve a shot is Kunal Nayyar (The Big Bang Theory). I know Raj was a bit over the top at times but I also think he has the ability to "dial it down" as would needed on a police procedural.

Finally, Johnny Galecki. When it comes to the former Big Bang Theory cast, he might be the best suited for a role with the badge, apart from Bialik. He's probably one of the best "straight men" that TV has ever seen and that kind of role is perfect for a police procedural. Plus he's got the comedic timing down pat so if they wanted to give him a few zingers, he could deliver those with ease too.

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3 hours ago, ElleryAnne said:

I can imagine almost anyone from Modern Family's cast playing a detective in a drama.

Kind of already happened with Ed O'Neill in the Dragnet reboot a few almost twenty (WTF!) years ago.  Which was after his sitcom days on Married With Children.

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16 hours ago, Egg McMuffin said:

Remember the days when former sitcom stars would follow up their hits with shows where their new character solves crimes? Think Matlock (Andy Griffith solves crimes), Diagnosis: Murder (Dick Van Dyke solves crimes), Barnaby Jones (Jed Clampett solves crimes), Quincy ME (Oscar Madison solves crimes), etc.

There was also Blacke's Magic, a short-lived '86 NBC mystery series that had Hal Linden of Barney Miller and Harry Morgan of M*A*S*H; Linden was Alexander Blacke, and Morgan was his father Leonard. Linden is still here, but Morgan isn't.

More on it:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blacke's_Magic

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3 hours ago, bmasters9 said:

There was also Blacke's Magic, a short-lived '86 NBC mystery series that had Hal Linden of Barney Miller and Harry Morgan of M*A*S*H; Linden was Alexander Blacke, and Morgan was his father Leonard. Linden is still here, but Morgan isn't.

More on it:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blacke's_Magic

I remember that show and thought it hilarious that such a short, small-framed man could have possibly sired such a tall, robust son. I mean, I suppose the late Mrs. Blacke must have had Julia Child's height and figure for it to have been believable that Harry Morgan to have been Hal Linden's dad! Still, they did manage to have good chemistry and credible father/son banter but the show didn't last.

 

This reminds me of another nugget called Partners in Crime (1984) that lasted 13 episodes that starred WKRP's Loni Anderson as the streetsmart Sydney Kovack who teamed up with her ex-husband's other posh ex-wife named  Carole Stanwyck played by. . of all people Lynda Carter who became detectives after the aforementioned ex-husband's murder had spurred them to take over the agency he'd left them. Oh, and playing their ex-MIL was none other than the longtime sitcom and drama player Eileen Heckart. I remember liking the episodes I saw but somehow it didn't seem to gel before its cancellation. 

Edited by Blergh
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7 hours ago, Danielg342 said:

does Kaley Cuoco deserve a chance to wield the badge? I'm not sure she could be the unquestioned lead, but she could still be the central figure of an ensemble at least.

I don't think so.  I saw her in Charmed (which she did before her time on BBT) and she was one of the problems with that show in its final season (and there were many)!  She was much better in BBT because she seems to gel better in comedies than dramas.

 

36 minutes ago, Blergh said:

This reminds me of another nugget called Partners in Crime (1984) that lasted 13 episodes that starred WKRP's Loni Anderson as the streetsmart Sydney Kovack who teamed up with her ex-husband's other posh ex-wife named  Carole Stanwyck played by. . of all people Lynda Carter who became detectives after the aforementioned ex-husband's murder

I remember that show!  I thought it had potential, and the two lead actresses couldn't have been more different from each other.

 

3 hours ago, bmasters9 said:

There was also Blacke's Magic, a short-lived '86 NBC mystery series

This was another good show TPTB just didn't appreciate.

7 hours ago, Danielg342 said:

Is it Neil Patrick Harris' time?

He could work but I see him as a "Castle" like character, but I'd give him a trial run.

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5 hours ago, dargosmydaddy said:

Didn't Rainn Wilson have a short-lived detective series after The Office?

I sort of vaguely remembered this being advertised a few years ago but never watched. Looked it up just now. It was called Backstrom and only lasted a season. 

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Tony Shaloub from Wings as Monk, the defective detective.

I know he wasn’t a sitcom star, but would Dule Hill from the West Wing as Burton Guster, Shawn Spencer’s partner on Psych, qualify?

I miss that era of the USA network.

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How about Jason and Justine Bateman as a brother and sister amateur detective team? They could both be mystery writers: one specializing in dark and gritty tales, the other in “cozies.” Not to gender stereotype, she would write the former and he would write the latter.

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Not sure about Justine Bateman.  She has a bad rep in the business as being difficult to work with.  There's a reason (probably several) why you don't see her in much work.  I think the last thing I saw her in was an episode of Psych in which she played Lassie's ex wife.

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14 hours ago, magicdog said:

I don't think so.  I saw her in Charmed (which she did before her time on BBT) and she was one of the problems with that show in its final season (and there were many)!  She was much better in BBT because she seems to gel better in comedies than dramas.

Cuoco herself said she much prefers comedies to dramas because of how intense the Charmed shoots were. I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that, on her comedies, she's usually the supporting actress as opposed to the series star, which I think suits her far better.

It's how I would see her in a police procedural. Part of the ensemble or a supporting character...not as the lead.

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On 4/23/2022 at 11:23 AM, Danielg342 said:

First person that came to mind would be the former star of Two Guys, a Girl And a Pizza Place:

320px-Deadpool_2_Japan_Premiere_Red_Carp

Of course, there's the whole issue of Deadpool, but we could solve that by going with the Batman setup by pairing the "Merc with a Mouth" with a police force. With the film series kind of stuck in a bit of a rut right now, why not transform it into a TV series? I would watch for sure.

Funny because two of his co-stars Nathan Fillion and Traylor Howard acted in well known mystery shows Castle and Monk respectively.

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Amused by the discussion about about whether or not Kaley Cuoco could lead a show about solving crimes...as if she isn't currently playing the lead role in The Flight Attendant, in which her character...solves a murder...

Edited by Llywela
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On 4/23/2022 at 6:51 AM, Danielg342 said:

Is it Neil Patrick Harris' time? He might be a bit over the top for a police procedural but he's also an incredibly gifted actor so I think he deserves a chance on a crime show.

Speaking of Harris' other erstwhile castmates...since both can still command the screen but also deliver understated performances when necessary, Jason Segel and Kal Penn deserve mentions. Especially Penn, who actually has experience as a lead character on a TV drama (Designated Survivor).

Plus, Penn is a person of colour and we need more POCs in lead roles on TV in general, not just on police procedurals.

Here's a thought for a crime series involving both NPH and Kal Penn:  an American version/remake of the BBC program Jonathan Creek.  Creek is an amateur crime-solver (with a little bit of Sherlock Holmes about him) who's primary job is to design magic tricks for a celebrity magician.   Cast Penn as Creek, and NPH as his slightly sleazy, slightly cheesy magician boss.  All that's needed to round out the main cast would be the investigative reporter/eventual love interest for Jonathan that drags him into the world of crime-solving. 

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10 hours ago, meep.meep said:

Cuoco was the lead actress on Big Bang Theory, not supporting.

I don't go by billing, I go by how they're presented. The Big Bang Theory was not a show about Penny. It was a show that was about Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj and how they're all adjusting to adult life. Penny- and the other women that later joined the cast- played a big role in telling those stories and, from time to time the women may have had stories of their own, but the setup of the show was that the women were there, primarily, to prop up the men's storylines.

Which goes back to what I was saying earlier- before The Flight Attendant, Kaley Cuoco has not been asked to be the focal character of any series. Which is not to say that she couldn't do it but I haven't yet seen that she's at the level needed in Hollywood to carry her own TV series.

I grant I don't know enough about The Flight Attendant to know how well it stacks up against police procedurals but I feel like it's a different beast. It only has one crime to solve, and that will likely take the entire series to solve, meaning the mystery is just as much the focal point of the series- if not the focal point of the series- as Cuoco's character's attempts to solve it and clear her name. In a police procedural, it's less about the crimes themselves and more about how the investigators handle solving the crimes as well as handling any new challenges that arise in doing so.

Meaning, ultimately, the investigator has to be front and centre, because the investigation is really the reason you watch a police procedural in the first place. Yes there has to be some mystery involved but it's not front and centre. What is front and centre is how the investigators unravel that mystery through whatever tricks or gimmicks they will employ.

Which goes back to the ultimate question- if Cuoco had to play the unquestioned lead where we watch every week about how she would go about solving that week's mystery can it work? I'm not sure, but that's subjective. The Flight Attendant might signal the potential is there, I'll admit.

3 hours ago, SVNBob said:

Here's a thought for a crime series involving both NPH and Kal Penn:  an American version/remake of the BBC program Jonathan Creek.  Creek is an amateur crime-solver (with a little bit of Sherlock Holmes about him) who's primary job is to design magic tricks for a celebrity magician.   Cast Penn as Creek, and NPH as his slightly sleazy, slightly cheesy magician boss.  All that's needed to round out the main cast would be the investigative reporter/eventual love interest for Jonathan that drags him into the world of crime-solving. 

I like the idea. The only concern I have is that the setup seems to put NPH on the sidelines. Not that I think Kal Penn couldn't play the unquestioned lead- I sure believe he can- but I'm not sure you can cast Neil Patrick Harris and essentially have him in a "throwaway" role. Maybe if Penn played the straight man to Harris' wacky, extravagant investigator that would work because it suits both of their styles.

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5 hours ago, SVNBob said:

Here's a thought for a crime series involving both NPH and Kal Penn:  an American version/remake of the BBC program Jonathan Creek.  Creek is an amateur crime-solver (with a little bit of Sherlock Holmes about him) who's primary job is to design magic tricks for a celebrity magician.   Cast Penn as Creek, and NPH as his slightly sleazy, slightly cheesy magician boss.  All that's needed to round out the main cast would be the investigative reporter/eventual love interest for Jonathan that drags him into the world of crime-solving. 

I would be down as long as the show is as gay as its leads.  

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5 hours ago, Danielg342 said:

I grant I don't know enough about The Flight Attendant to know how well it stacks up against police procedurals but I feel like it's a different beast. It only has one crime to solve, and that will likely take the entire series to solve, meaning the mystery is just as much the focal point of the series- if not the focal point of the series- as Cuoco's character's attempts to solve it and clear her name. In a police procedural, it's less about the crimes themselves and more about how the investigators handle solving the crimes as well as handling any new challenges that arise in doing so.

The Flight Attendant isn't a police procedural and the mystery isn't the focus.  The mysteries serve as backdrops to her character confronting her inner demons because of the situations she's put into and her trying to unravel what is real and what isn't. 

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7 hours ago, Irlandesa said:

The Flight Attendant isn't a police procedural and the mystery isn't the focus.  The mysteries serve as backdrops to her character confronting her inner demons because of the situations she's put into and her trying to unravel what is real and what isn't. 

OK. Thanks.

So how much does The Flight Attendant say about Kaley Cuoco's ability to lead or even be a part of a police procedural?

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Now that his long run as NCIS Special Agent Sam Hanna is done, LL Cool J started out on TV as an ex pro football player who rented out rooms in his home to a family and played big brother to the kids on In The House for a couple of seasons.

The pitch, Sue Olsen as Sheriff Cindy Brady-Partridge.

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