Tuesday, February 20, 2018

CRIME SEEN: What to Watch Where? by Kate Derie

If you're like me you're overwhelmed with choices of Mystery TV series to watch but you're never sure quite where, what, or how to watch. Kate Derie, associate editor of Mystery Readers Journal, has a column in each issue called Crime Seen. In the latest issue (Mystery Readers Journal: Big City Cops II), she addressed the multiple platforms and shows for streaming video. Reprinted here is her column: Crime Seen: What to Watch Where? 


Decisions, decisions… Which streaming video services have the most for mystery fans? As in so many existential questions, the answer is, “It depends.” If all you want is to binge on Poirot and Marple, you can get them almost anywhere. But the original Miss Marple with Joan Hickson (beautifully remastered in high definition) is only on Britbox. So here’s a guide on where to find your favorite series. To save space, I have listed only shows that have more than two seasons or twenty episodes. For additional information, see my chart at https://tinyurl.com/myst-vid-sheet.

Acorn.tv ($5/mo.) specializes in British mysteries, some of which have never been broadcast in the US. They include 19-2, Agatha Christie’s Marple, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Brokenwood Mysteries, The Broker’s Man, Foyle’s War, George Gently, Hamish MacBeth, Lord & Master (Dutch), McCallum, Midsomer Murders, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Mr. and Mrs. Murder, Murder in Suburbia, Murdoch Mysteries, Rebus, Republic of Doyle, Trial & Retribution, Vera.

Amazon Prime offers free streaming video to those who already pay a $99 yearly fee for unlimited shipping. They produce several original series such as Bosch, and have a franchise on recent PBS series, along with some “golden oldies.” Boardwalk Empire, Bosch, Endeavour, The Good Wife, Grantchester, Grimm, Inspector Lewis, Mike Hammer, Monk, Peter Gunn, Psych, Roba (Finnish), Route 66, The Sopranos, Whitechapel, The Wire, Yancy Derringer.

Britbox.com ($7/mo.) is just what it says on the tin—all British, all the time, including some fondly remembered classic series. Agatha Christie’s Marple, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Blue Murder, Cadfael, Cracker, Dalziell & Pascoe, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Inspector Morse, Jonathan Creek, Ka-vanagh QC, The Last Detective, Miss Marple (Joan Hickson), Prime Suspect, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Scott & Bailey, Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett), A Touch of Frost, Vera, Waking the Dead, Wycliffe.

Hulu.com ($8–12/mo.) leads the pack in sheer quantity of mostly US series. Like Amazon, they show several vintage shows that may or may not be as good as you remember. Adam-12, Agatha Christie’s Marple, Beck (Swedish), Blue Bloods, The Bridge (Danish/Swedish), City Homicide, Cold Squad, CSI, DCI Banks, Dexter, Dragnet 1967, Elementary, Flashpoint, I Spy, Ironside, Kojak, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Miami Vice, Murdoch Mysteries, New Tricks, Numbers, Prime Suspect, Rebus, Remington Steele, Republic of Doyle, Rizzoli & Isles, The Saint, Saving Grace, Scott & Bailey, The Shield, Silk Stalkings, Simon & Simon, Southland, Spiral (French), Taggart, Vera, Wallander (Swedish). 

MHz Choice ($8/mo.) is the place for international crime. They have several dozen shows from Scandinavia, Germany, France, Italy and other European countries. All have easy-to-read English subtitles. Most of them are one “season”, which in some cases is really a single mini-series. For longer runs, look at Baantjer Mysteries (Dutch), Beck (Swedish), Maigret (French, not the PBS series), and Tatort (German).

Netflix ($8–14/mo.), like Amazon, has a variety of recent prime-time series plus original productions such as Longmire. Their lineup currently includes Blue Bloods, Broadchurch, Criminal Minds, Death in Paradise, Dexter, Dicte (Danish), Doctor Blake Mysteries, Father Brown, Hawaii Five-0, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Longmire, Luther, Midsomer Murders, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, NCIS, Person of Interest, Republic of Doyle, Ripper Street, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch), Shetland, The Sniffer (Ukrainian), Wallander (Kenneth Branagh), White Collar.

These services all have free trials of 7–30 days, so you can try them out for yourself. In sum: If you like British shows, try Acorn for current series, Britbox for older series. (Acorn is also the best value for money.) For a variety of current US series, plus original productions, plus movies, both Netflix and Amazon have great lineups. Hulu has the largest number of series, although not many of them are current. Hulu and Amazon both have several vintage (pre-1980) series, but be warned: the oldies can look pretty bad on a large HD screen. 

So which channels do I personally get? All of them, of course. Any one of them is less than the price of a single movie ticket each month, and provides a great deal more entertainment. The only catch is that we have to have a list next to the remote to tell us where we are watching each series!

Don't forget to check out this Chart of Shows and Where They Appear:

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Judy Bobalik said...

A spreadsheet! Be still my heart.

LJ Roberts said...

This is wonderful, Janet. I love your chart as I often forget what I saw where. I don't subscribe to everything, but I do have AcornTV, Amazon, Britbox, Netflix, and PBS Passport.

Judy Bobalik said...

Another streaming service is your PBS station. For the $60 yearly donation I can watch whatever has aired on PBS