Top Ten Private Eye Shows

As chosen by Max Allan Collins and John Javna

In their 1988 book, The Best of Crime & Detective TV, Collins and Javna served up an articulate, passionate, opinionated and often hilarious salute to crime and detective TV, including sections on cop shows, lawyer shows and more. And yes, a section on private eyes.

They asked mystery fans, mystery writers, and TV critics, in a poll in Mystery Scene, and a secondary ballot  was mailed to a select group of prominent mystery writers and critics, asking not only for their votes but also for their own write-in choices and for any dissenting opinions they may have had.

At this point, it’s like a relic from a different age, but honestly, this book is a keeper. If you’ve ever killed a lazy afternoon glued to the tube watching some great old private eye shows (or praying in vain for a good new one), this is a must-have. 

According to the authors, these are the very best (mostly American) private eye shows to have graced the airwaves. And in short blasts of wit and humour, they make their cases.

  1. The Rockford Files(1974-80, NBC)
  2. Harry O (1974-76, ABC)
  3. Peter Gunn (1958-61, NBC/ABC)
  4. City of Angels (1976, NBC)
  5. Tenspeed and Brownshoe (1980, ABC)
  6. Perry Mason (1957-1966, CBS)
  7. Magnum P.I. (1980-88, CBS)
  8. Richie Brockelman, Private Eye (1978, NBC)
  9. 77 Sunset Strip (1958-64, ABC)
  10. Mannix (1967-75, CBS)


Not convinced? Don’t take my word for it. Get the book

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

Leave a Reply