🎵It’s Beginning to look a lot like winter! 🎶
Tis the season for snuggling on the couch with a cup of cocoa and a nice cozy mystery on the tv. ☕
If you’re looking for a warm-hearted detective and a generally lighter approach to the art of criminal detecting, then look no further! We have compiled a list of six shows from around the world (Germany, Italy, the US, Japan, Mainland China, and Britain) that offer well-crafted mysteries while toning down on the blood, sex, and violence. In cutting down on the drama, they also tend to be episodic — a new mystery each episode or two. That means you can check out a couple shows at once, set up a new weekly traditional movie night, or binge to your heart’s content. 😊
*Given the nature of the genre, these shows may still deal with difficult or adult topics and may not be appropriate for children. Read reviews carefully, pay attention to ratings, and watch at your own discretion.
**Article may include affiliate links.
*MHZ Choice offers the show with English Subtitles
Miss Sophie’s Instinct
German Name: Sophie: Schlauer als die Polizei
The Detective: Sophie Meyerhofer (played by Enzi Fuchs)
Seasons: One (1997)
“Miss Sophie Meyerhofer loves investigating crime almost as much as she loves sausage, sauerkraut and driving around Regensberg in her British car! Open-hearted and curious, she and her childhood friend, Father Anselm, contribute to the local investigations whether the chief inspector – her brother – likes it or not!” ~ Amazon
Miss Sophie is Germany’s answer to Miss Marple, a sweet but nosy detective who can’t help but insert herself into local mysteries. With a heart for the poor and disadvantaged, Sophie spends her time poking her nose into her brother’s case files. She is accompanied by Father Anselm—a friendly priest with a weakness for kind-hearted older ladies—and Phillip Armbruster— a good hearted kid with a talent for computers.
New Tricks (UK)
Country: United Kingdom (Britain)
Team 1 (2003 – 2011) ➜ Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman), Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman), Brian Lane (Alun Armstrong), Jack Halstrom (James Bolam)
Team 2 (2012 – 2013) ➜ Sandra, Gerry, Brian, and Steve McAndrews (Denis Lawson), and Danny Griffin (Nicholas Lyndhurst)
Team 3 (2014 – 2015) ➜ Gerry, Steve, Danny, and Sasha Miller (Tamzin Outhwaite)
Seasons: Twelve (2003-2015)
“A team of seemingly over-the-hill detectives investigate previously unsolved cases in this crime drama. But they are finding a surprising incidence of cover-up and conspiracy in their new investigations. . . . [T]he team is determined to get to the bottom of it. These old dogs won’t roll over easily” ~ Amazon
Sandra Pullman is an ambitious detective superintendent who finds her career derailed when a case goes embarrassingly awry. She finds herself assigned as the leader of UCOS—a team of previously retired officers who had decades of experience and the eccentricities to go with it. Tasked with reviewing cold cases that everyone else has abandoned, Sandra finds that keeping the team on target is a bit like herding easily distracted kittens. But they’ve all got a heart for the victims and a determination to see the cases through. Maybe they can find what others have missed, the truth that the years have hidden.
*Fun Trivia: Brian Lane’s wife (Esther) is played by James Bolam’s real-life wife Susan Jameson. She’s a lovely recurring character on the show.
* The official versions of this show are only available in the original Japanese. There are unofficial versions online with English Subtitles but we ask that you support the original producers first. 😊
Country: Hard Nut!
Original Name: ハードナッツ!
The Detectives: Kurumi Nanba (played by Ai Hashimoto) and Tatsuhiko Tomoda (played by Kengo Kora)
Seasons: One – Eight Episodes (2013)
Kurumi Nanba is a young mathematics genius studying at Tokyo University. Unfortunately, her brilliance in numbers does not easily translate into interpersonal skills, and Kurumi has a difficult time making friends. Suddenly Tatsuhiko Tomodo, a local police detective is thrust into her life. With Tatsuhiko’s help, Kurumi devotes her knowledge of math to solving complex cases and bringing justice to the victims.
Kurumi gives off Charlie Epps vibes (Numb3rs) using her mathematical talents and skill for breaking alibis and figuring out how crimes were committed. While she appears cold to others, Tatsuhiko soon discovers she carries a secretly innocent and warm heart. Together they work as a crime-solving duo finding the truth that others seek to conceal. The series was short, but a fun watch.
My Roommate is a Detective
Country: Mainland China
Original Name: 民国奇探
The Detectives: Lu Yao (played by Hu Yi Tian) and Qiao Chu Sheng (played by Leon Zhang)
Seasons: One (2020) | There is a sequel (different plot, same actors) which will adapt Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels for Chinese film.
Lu Yao just wants to maintain the luxurious and rather lazy life to which he’s become accustomed. But when he becomes the main suspect in a murder, he finds himself in a bit of professional trouble. Qiao Chu Sheng may be an honest police detective now, but he still has a touch of the gangster to him. So, with crimes to solve and a brilliant sleuth in front of his nose, Chu Sheng finds it all too easy to persuade Lu Yao to help him out. Together with Bai You Ning, a local reporter and the daughter of a local gang leader, the trio take on crimes and bring justice back to the streets of 1920s Shanghai.
This Sherlock-esque show combines intrigue with comedy. Lu Yao has the brains and a bit too much greed. Chu Sheng has the money and cases to solve. Lu Yao needs to clear his name. Chu Sheng needs to improve his reputation. It’s a detective match made in heaven!
*Available on Iqiyi with English Subtitles. Iqiyi is one of the leading Chinese streaming services beside Youku and Tencent. The show is also available on Viki with many other languages.
*Available with English Subtitles on MHZ Choice
Blood of the Vine
Original Name: Le Sang de la Vigne
The Detective: Benjamin Label (Pierre Arditi)
Seasons: Five (2011 – 2017)
“Benjamin Lebel is a luminary in his field: an internationally renowned wine expert who publishes a keenly-awaited yearly guide and a part-time sleuth whose intuition and nose are stimulated by puzzling murders. Set in the loveliest wine-growing regions in France.” ~ Amazon
Benjamin Lebel guides the viewer across some of the prettiest parts of France as he finds himself caught up in one mystery after another. Whether it’s murder for passion or the theft of the perfect vineyard, Label is there to sniff out the truth. . . one glass at a time.
Country: United States (US)
The Detective: Nero Wolfe (Maury Chaykin) and Archie Goodwin (Timothy Hutton)
Seasons: Two (2001 – 2002)
Nero Wolfe is a famous private detective working in the 1950s United States. Described as immensely overweight and thoroughly unamused with the general public, Wolfe devotes his time to order, dinner, and his orchids. To finance his expensive eating and gardening habits, Wolfe is occasionally forced to devote his great intellect to solving the difficult cases thrown his way. Accompanying Wolfe is his caustic but loyal assistant Archie Goodwin. Goodwin is the brawn and the charm; Wolfe is the brains. The criminals won’t know what hit them!
The series is based on Rex Stout’s excellent 47-detective series. Wolfe and Goodwin are card-carrying members of the “hard-boiled” detective crew with that characteristic weakness for a pretty face and a sob story. They bow to no wealth or power. And whatever you do. . . don’t interrupt his time in the greenhouse!
*There are several versions of Nero Wolfe, including an Italian edition. But Maury Chaykin is simply the quintessential Nero Wolfe.