Last month I wrote an entry with a few suggestions that I thought would be agood place to start if you’re new to Cozy Mystery television series and TV movies. Well, I actually had a longer list, but the post started getting pretty long so I decided to hold off on some of the others until later.
As before, the TV and Movies page on my site is a great place to start when you’re looking for Cozy TV or movie adaptations, but since it can be pretty long I’ll be discussing a few more that I’m particularly fond of.
The first show I want to highlight is Hetty Wainthropp Investigates. The title character of Hetty was played by the remarkable Dame Patricia Routledge, who also starred in another of my favorite British TV shows (not a mystery) Keeping Up Appearances. Hetty, along with her also senior citizen husband, starts a detective agency partially to remain active in her senior years. She is assisted by a young man, Geoffrey – played by Dominic Monaghan (yes, of the J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings!) who provides much of the “leg work”. I first wrote about and recommended Hetty Wainthropp Investigates way back in 2006! Yikes! (I absolutely love this show!)
Most of the suggestions so far have been British productions, which isn’t a big surprise since they’re all based off of British Cozies… which again isn’t surprising, since a lot of the “classic” Cozies were originally written by British authors. Well, my next suggestion isn’t quite as Cozy as some of these other entries, but I would say it still fits within the Cozy mold. Columbo isn’t an amateur sleuth, but a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department. These mysteries are also a bit different from most in that the viewer watches the crime being committed, and as a result is already aware of “whodunit”. However, Columbo himself is so well played by Peter Falk and the murderers and support casts are all so well played that the experience of how Columbo catches the killer is absolutely riveting. I particularly recommend these to anyone who is a big fan of classic television or movies from the 1950s to 1970s, as the cast of Columbo includes some of the absolute best actors of their generation, albeit a bit after their “famous” phases. (You can currently find this show on TV if you check your local TV schedules.)
Another non-British mystery series that I really like is Ellery Queen Mysteries starring Jim Hutton as Ellery and David Wayne as his father. It was produced in 1975-1976 and consists of 22 episodes. Following the formula that the producers, Richard Levinson and William Link, had used in Columbo and would later use in Murder She Wrote, each episode includes a number of famous guest stars. Ellery, a mystery writer, goes along with his police detective father and invariably solved the mystery. I really like the relationship between Ellery and his father. Jim Hutton and David Wayne were terrific together. One unique aspect of the show is that before Ellery solves the mystery he turns to the camera talks to the audience and recaps the clues he will use to solve the mystery. (Even with this help, I don’t believe I solved a single one!) I can’t believe that it is almost five years since I first wrote about this great series.
Again, these are just some of my favorite series that I would suggest to anyone who hasn’t seen them yet, whether they are fans of Cozies or not… If you’ve got any other suggestions for great Cozy Mystery TV or movie series to start with, please be sure to leave them in the comments below!