Build your own TV crime procedural!

Step 1. The predictable bones

Cold open: a person we have never met before – usually a woman – goes about their daily life. Their daily life, it would seem, is full of expository dialogue that shows us what a good person they are.

Cut to: a friend / relative letting themselves into the person’s house / apartment, calling out for the person and explaining that they missed an appointment or lunch or class. The friend / relative moves from room to room until they alight upon the person’s dead body.


Cold open: a person or some people are doing something in the woods / park. They spot something out of place and go to look at it. There they discover a dead body.

Cut to: opening title sequence

We open on the main characters at the crime scene, having a conversation about the personal life of one of them. They collect forensic evidence and take pictures, and then the next 53 minutes (including adverts) are spent bringing in and accusing the wrong people of murder (“What about the boyfriend?” “He alibied out.”), receiving results of forensic tests unrealistically fast, and uncovering shocking new evidence just before ad breaks. Eventually they will hit a dead end, until a main character says something unrelated to the case that makes them realise who the murderer is.

The killer is arrested and has his dastardly plan explained to him for our benefit. Then there’s a brief wind-down between the main characters about the earlier personal conversation and we’re out.

Step 2. The tedious meat

Okay, that’s your framework sorted – next, you need your main characters. Should they be just plain old police detectives? FBI? SWAT? ATF? NCIS? A special unit?

Or, if you don’t want the yawn of boring old law enforcement, you could choose from peripheral professions, such as forensic anthropologist (Bones), forensic criminologists (CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, CSI: Antarctica), coroner (Quincy M.E., The Coroner, Rizzoli and Isles, etc), doctor (Diagnosis: Murder), author (Murder She Wrote, Castle), mathematician (Numb3rs), neuro-psychiatrist (Perception), or college professor (Instinct). Or you could just go nuts and have a main character who can talk to the dead (Medium).

(If you do choose a character from a peripheral profession, make sure you invent a way that they can be in the interview room interrogating suspects even though that would never happen.)

And should your main characters be a man? A woman? Two men? Two women? A man and a woman and some ubiquitous sexual tension? Grizzled detective and rookie? Maybe a team. If you’re feeling extra lazy, make sure you include a character with a photographic memory. At the very least you need a tech nerd who can get around tricky plot points with a spot of hacking.

Then there’s personality, such as it is. You could have cops who don’t play by the rules, cops who have a dark past, cops who are the best at what they do (who don’t play by the rules and have a dark past), self-destructive cops (who are the best at what they do etc). Or your cop / special agent / coroner / doctor / mathematician / neuro-psychiatrist could be an alcoholic, or a recovering alcoholic, or a recovering drug addict, or a pill-popping opioid abuser in denial, or divorced with a kid they never see. Naturally, they’ll be paired with someone more strait-laced and by-the-book.

And finally, there’s location. New York, obviously. Even CSI: Miami was set in New York. But the precinct house / headquarters / coroner’s office / lab should be unrealistically glamorous and televisual. Lots of glass, or exposed brick. A warehouse, a high-tech laboratory, a high-tech medical facility etc. Anything but an office.

Step 3. There is no Step 3

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Slap a title on it (Cop Police, Special Unit Cop Force, Federal State County Local, Brain Investigation Team, Autopsy Squad or somesuch), use a computer to generate some dialogue and you can get six seasons out of it before one of your main cast leaves. It’s that easy.

Coronavirus: More must see lockdown TV

Haemorrhagic Mike (Film4): Mike and the Kings of Tampa contract Ebola in this sexy and upsetting sequel.

Paul Hollywood Scoffs a Dog (Channel 4): Scouse barn Paul Hollywood shows us that dogs aren’t for life but they will keep for about three months in the freezer.

Fucking Comedians Doing Fucking Shows from Their Fucking Homes (All Fucking Channels): Fucking comedians who were on the phone to their fucking agents the minute the fucking lockdown started excitedly pitching a fucking show they can do from their fucking homes do their fucking shows from their fucking homes, probably with contributions from their fucking eccentric and/or grumpy parents.

Hand-Wash Gogglebox (Channel 4): People watch and comment on people washing their hands while washing their hands.

Coronavirus: Must-see lockdown TV

Bored with Homes Under the Hammer, bleak news and Marvel films? Here are five of the best new must-see TV shows to keep you entertained during the lockdown:

Jenson Button Cacks a Fireplace (Five): Follow ex-Formula 1 champion Jenson Button as he travels the world in search of the perfect fireplace to cack.

McShitehorse (Netflix): A hard-drinking lone wolf horse solves murders in this live action crime series.

Cash or Shark (Channel 4): Davina McCall hosts this high stakes game show. There are two boxes: pick one and win a fortune or lose a stomach.

Doctor Cockbox (Sky Atlantic): Benedict Cumberbatch stars in this U.S. drama about a man whose penis is a brain surgeon.

Are You Going to Finish That Sausage? (Dave): New sit-com from the creators of Feeble Mess, starring Nick Plinth as hapless local newspaper restaurant critic Ted Plankton, who writes under the pen name The Greedy Freeloader.

Coronavirus: celebrity fails to raise spirits on social media

Social media networks Twitter and Instagram have exploded today with the news that popular chef, film star, life coach and pro basketball player Jackson Mangold hasn’t posted a video of himself singing, cooking, playing the guitar, saying something inspirational or dancing in order to cheer up people locked down by the coronavirus pandemic.

“OMG WTF”, Twitter user @entitledfruitbat19 posted on hearing the news. The sentiment was echoed on Instagram, with user @preening_god420 posting a picture of himself looking shocked and holding a placard bearing the hashtag “#MangoldEntertainUs”.

The hashtag also took off on Twitter with tens of thousands of people, mystified by Mangold’s silence, demanding the star perform for them.

A spokesman for Jackson Mangold said: “Jackson died in 2018, you awful people”.

Brexit Movie Reviews 01: Spectre (2015)

Brexit Movie Reviews - a picture of your reviewer
Your reviewer

Ah, there’s nothing more British – more English – than James Bond, an arrogant white bloke with an English accent who drinks a lot and punches people. No doubt once they get rid of Daniel Craig they’ll cast some bloody foreign disabled vegan lesbian and they’ll make her all touchy-feely and politically correct. Grr, don’t get me started on political correctness. Want to be rude about foreigners? Want to make a funny joke about them? No chance mate – the bloody Sharia police will be round to arrest you and send you to the re-education camps like they all do in foreignland.

Speaking of which, why does James Bond have to go to all these different foreign places all the time? Why can’t he stay in Britain? We’ve got lots of dramatic looking shit that’d be alright in a film – Cheddar Gorge, Wookey Hole. Coventry. And if you want a brilliant car chase there’s the bloody M6 mate. I mean, I haven’t seen Spectre – don’t need to to have an opinion on it, do I – but it seems to me it would be a much better film if Bond just stayed at home and got pissed and punched wankers like a proper Englishman.

And I’ll tell you what else: why do you never get to see the Bond girl’s tits? This isn’t a Carry On film, it’s a sophisticated piece of adult entertainment about a man with a biro that turns into a jet-ski, so let’s see some hoobly jooblies. Idiots. Did I tell you I used to be in the SAS?

FILM: Do Not Do Dying (2020)

Promotional material for James Bond film Do Not Do Dying (2020)
Promotional material for Do Not Do Dying

Craig David returns as James Bond in his latest high-octane adventure, the follow-up to 2015’s disappointing Skidmark. After his license to kill is reduced to a license to maim after a pre-credit sequence involving three nuns, a sledgehammer and some poor judgment, 007 is forced to team up with beautiful independent CIA operative Feisty Whoppers (Jill Woman). Together they are ordered to take out a cunning international badger baiter known only as Le Master Baiter.

Smashed off his man-tits on Martinis and cheap cider and popping pickled onions like pain pills, Bond travels the world somehow visiting places he’s never visited before in an attempt to catch Le Master Baiter before he blows up every badger on Earth with his orbiting satellite debadgerisation laser. Can 007 punch enough things, sleep with Feisty Whoppers before she’s arbitrarily murdered, and still find time to look inwards in an attempt to humanise himself for an audience asked to root for a professional killer? Find out in seven months if you haven’t died from coronavirus (124 minutes).