Cop shop: 5 most wanted crime series

By Gen Terblanche22 February 2024

Cop shop: 5 most wanted crime series

 Craving justice and a good story to watch? From police procedurals to intense crime drama mini series, we’re on the case. We’ve gathered the evidence, sifted through the clues, and we’ve presented the files that’ll help you say, “Yes, officer, that one!” 

1. The Rookie Season 5

The Rookie S5 on Showmax

Five seasons of The Rookie centre on John Nolan (Nathan Fillion), who was 45 years old when he joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) as their oldest trainee officer. John is uncynical, empathetic and became a cop because he sincerely wants to work for justice and do what’s right.  

If you love a classic police procedural, The Rookie has it all. There are strong interpersonal relationships (and even a touch of office romance) between the officers and trainees, who get more fleshed out throughout the seasons. There are plenty of comedy moments, especially thanks to Nathan Fillion’s lighthearted charm. And intriguing cases of the week bring something different to each episode, along with danger, adventure and excitement. While there are season arcs and you do see character development, the series is geared at casual enjoyment. This is not a “miss the scene, ruin the season” show.  

Binge The Rookie Season 1-5 now.

Also watch: The Rookie: Feds: Niecy Nash plays Special Agent Simone Clark, the oldest rookie in the FBI Academy. The Equalizer stars Queen Latifah as an ex-CIA agent who’s determined to help the little guy get justice. And if you really love crime-of-the-week cop comedy, try Brooklyn Nine-Nine

2. Accused 

Accused S1 on Showmax

This legal drama anthology series centres on the defendant in a different court case in each episode. Each complicated case is presented from this defendant’s point of view, but through the trial, we get other perspectives and pieces of the puzzle. In some cases the story continues even after the verdict has been handed down. Those accused include neurosurgeon Scott Harmon (Michael Chiklis) who’s the father of a school shooter, deaf surrogate mother Ava (Stephanie Nogueras) who’s accused of kidnapping the baby she gave birth to, and a high schooler who attacked his stepmother Alison (Rachel Bilson) but claims that she’s a killer herself.  

Accused asks its audience to be the jury in their trials, then presents us with a range of points of view on events, along with equally complex motivations. Each accused person is in court because there is enough evidence to link them to something that is considered a crime, but the show wiggles around in the cracks between the legal system and what we would, personally, consider to be justice. So if you love a case of the week procedural format, but dislike a simplistic take on the law, sink your teeth into Accused. 

Binge Accused Season 1 now

Also watch: If you want to see a jury question the outcome of a trial after the event, you’ll be hooked on After the Trial. If you love puzzles and shocking revelations, The Undoing centres on therapist Grace Fraser (Nicole Kidman) whose husband Jonathan (Hugh Grant) goes missing following a high profile murder in their social circle. And depression-era crime drama Perry Mason (Matthew Rhys) delivers both intense courtroom action and complicated cases, along with questioning the difference between what’s just and what’s legal.  

3. Lawmen: Bass Reeves

David Oyelowo as Bass Reeves in Lawmen: Bass Reeves on Showmax

This is the first season in what will (hopefully) become a drama anthology series about the untold stories of the most legendary lawman in the American Old West. The first season brings us Bass Reeves (David Oyelowo), the enslaved and freed man who became the first Black US Marshal west of the Mississippi and went on to put over 3 000 outlaws in chains.  

While rogue cop series have run their course (let’s respect suspects’ rights, thanks) there’s a time and place for the kind of story about a gun-toting lone lawman who’ll do anything to bring a criminal to justice. And that time is the 1800s in the Wild West. So if you’re looking for a series that’ll tickle your curiosity about history while also giving you a solid hero’s tale, saddle up with Bass Reeves.  

Stream Lawmen: Bass Reeves Season 1 now. New episodes on Fridays. 

Also watch: Interested in smart, heroic detectives going solo? Try Queen Latifah’s The Equalizer or Kate Winslet’s Mare of Easttown. And for an intriguing comic book science fiction-style tale about police and heroes (that brings up Bass Reeves) try Watchmen.  

4. Full Circle  

Full Circle is on Showmax

This crime drama mini-series is inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s 1963 film, High and Low, and directed by Steven Soderbergh. Full Circle centres on an investigation into a botched kidnapping, which uncovers secrets that connect multiple characters and cultures in New York City. The crime itself, a scheme to generate money by cashing in on life insurance policies taken out against homeless people and drug addicts, is shocking enough to bring you back for more, even if you aren’t tempted by the all-star cast, including Claire Danes, Jharrel Jerome, Jim Gaffigan, Zazie Beetz, and Timothy Olyphant. 

Full Circle offers an intriguing plot filled with twists and knots to sink your teeth into. So if you’re looking for something like a classic Brit-crime drama that’s focussed on the whydunnit rather than the whodunnit, slap your handcuffs on Full Circle.  

Binge Full Circle Season 1 now.

Also watch: Looking for a series to explore a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top? Try The Capture. Detective Inspector Rachel Carey (Holliday Grainger) tries to help British soldier Shaun Emery (Callum Turner) to clear his name when he’s framed by deepfaked CCTV footage. Culture clashes and crime combine in mini-series Witness Number 3, in which single mom Jodie (Nina Toussaint-White) has to decide whether to stand witness in court while being targeted by both corrupt police and murderous gangsters. The Night Of questions the whole criminal justice system through the lens of a single, complicated murder case. And for a series that really digs into how one crime can connect a whole community, try True Detective.  

5. Alert: Missing Persons Unit

Alert: Missing Persons Unit - Season 1 on Showmax

In this police procedural drama created by Jamie Foxx, detective Nikki Batista (Dania Ramirez) joins the Philadelphia Police Department’s Missing Person’s Unit after her son, Keith, goes missing. Nikki and her partner and ex-husband, Detective Jason Grant (Scott Caan) work to help other people find their loved ones while dealing with their own grief over a child who’s been missing for the past six years.  

If you love intense emotion and cop action with a feel-good finish, Alert: Missing Persons could be your show. The series combines an emotionally engaging weekly case with the season-long search for Nikki and Jason’s son, blending procedural and crime drama storytelling. Alert: Missing Persons wraps up each case neatly at the end of the episode so you get the uplift of a joyful family reunion, guaranteed (as long as you’re not the kind of person to dwell on what would really happen).  

Binge alert: Missing Persons Unit S1 from Tuesday, 27 February 

Also watch: Found Season 1 (new episodes on Tuesdays). Created by Nigerian-American Nkechi Okoro Carroll (All American and All American: Homecoming), Found centres on recovery specialist Gabi Mosely and her crisis management team (all former kidnapping survivors themselves, or family of victims) who’re working to find missing African American people who’re largely ignored by the police system. Explore the issues around neglected Black missing persons cases in the US, in the HBO documentary series Black and Missing. Grey’a Anatomy star Kevin McKidd stars in kidnapped child drama series Six Four, And don’t forget South Africa’s hottest missing-persons police crime drama series, Projek Dina.  

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