Could this group of grumpy old blokes (plus their long-suffering female handler) be the finest detective ensemble of all time? You know, we rather think they might be, particularly the original classic line-up featuring Brian "I don't creep, I glide" Lane and Gerry "Mine's a pint, luv" Standing, along with the world-weary Jack Halford and their official boss (aka, babysitter) Sandra Pullman.
In New Tricks they don't just spark off against each other - they have so much crackling chemistry going on, all they're missing are the lab coats. Whether it's Jack's deadpan responses to Brian's pedantic droning, or Sandra breezily batting away Gerry's gigantically un-PC quips about women, society and pretty much everything else, they're so darn delightful we wish we could step through the telly and hang out with them ourselves.
WAKING THE DEAD
Being a motley group of mis-matched sleuths working together on cold cases, the Waking the Dead team have a lot in common with the New Tricks lot. Except that, instead of playfully bickering and rolling their eyes at each other, this team are more likely to yell in each other's faces, smack tables and sulk in the corners of their moodily lit headquarters.
Yes, Waking the Dead gives us the most intense and tormented crime-solving team on telly, with their boss Peter Boyd forever on the cusp of punching suspects out in the interview room. The yin to his yang is the calm, soothing Dr Grace Foley, while fellow detective Spencer Jordan somehow manages to keep things grounded whenever Boyd flies off the handle (ie, all the time). This is a team so charismatic that one of them - the pathologist played by Tara Fitzgerald - even got her own spin-off series.
Striding through the squalid streets of Victorian London, the central trio of Ripper Street make an unlikely but exceptionally effective team. The central figure, and the man keeping things together, is Edmund Reid, with his dreamy eyes and wounded soul. Despite his personal issues, he's obsessed with cleaning up the crime-clogged streets of his turf, while his right-hand man Bennet Drake is a real bruiser. Literally: the man has a devastating right hook and London should be glad he's on the side of the good guys.
The polar opposite of Drake is womanizing American adventurer Captain Homer Jackson, whose cocky swashbuckling demeanor winds the other two up no end. And yet, somehow, they're incredible together. When they're not ready to kill each other, that is.
BETWEEN THE LINES
The story goes that actor Neil Pearson landed his part in Between the Lines after being told to sit in a room full of women for producers to see if enough of them fancied him or not. They did, and so he became suave DS Tony Clark, the cop with the unpleasant job of investigating other cops.
Wading through corruption and ignoring fellow coppers' nasty looks, he's fortunately aided by a brilliant team - including the dryly witty Harry Naylor and the tough, distinctively flame-haired Mo Connell. The complexity of their characters - heroic yet morally compromised by the ugliness of their work - makes them endlessly watchable, and Mo Connell stands out as one of the first major gay characters on British telly.
Who do you need to call when there's been a murrr'drrr? The Taggart team, of course. But which configuration? The original bunch led by the no-nonsense, hard-as-nails Taggart himself looked unbeatable, but the show managed to retain its magic even after his death, when the poignant partnership of Mike Jardine and Jackie Reid took centre stage.
Their heartfelt, deeply emotional bond made them the Mulder and Scully of Scottish crime solving, but the rest of the group - including the handsome, nattily dressed Robbie Ross - also sparkled. And we can't forget the addition of Matt Burke, a burly old school copper who Taggart himself would have fully approved of. Just the man you need on the mean streets of Glasgow.