2004 Top Ten Police Dramas on DVD
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to walk the DVD beat? Or what were the most arresting DVDs of the year? Well, this comprehensive list covers some of the most intense, gripping, and downright entertaining police dramas (and a couple of comedies) of 2004. For the most part, each DVD release on this list gives a perspective from one form or another of local law enforcement. However there are a few exceptions that have main characters who aren't cops, but they do work closely with their respective police departments. Anyways, if you are looking for some great drama, then the contents of this list should reveal some of the year's best.
1. The Commish: The Complete First Season
There are several aspects that make The Commish an excellent series. It centers around the Eastbridge police commissioner and unlike most crime dramas, the series does not focus on the actual crimes and the whodunit. Instead, the series tends to focus upon the interactions between the commissioner at work and at home. The interaction results in both clever drama and witty humor. The first season is made up of twenty-one gripping episodes. It opens with a powerful story and continues to amaze with one great story after another.
Review by Jeffrey Robinson
2. Monk: Season One
What happens when you mix a brilliant mind with a few phobias and an obsessive compulsive disorder? You get Adrian Monk. The series is about a former San Francisco detective, who became overly neurotic after his wife's untimely death. Monk is a brilliant investigator, who has a unique knack for solving crimes where others fail. However, his vast number of phobias and OCD leave him unable to function fully as a detective (or even in society). With the aid of his personal nurse, he combats crime in a very odd manner. The first season does very well introducing the primary cast, as well as outlying a few great mysteries with a delightful mix of humor.
Review by Jeffrey Robinson
3. Infernal Affairs
In a few words, Infernal Affairs is breathtaking. The story is about the lives of two individuals, who at a young age take on a dreadful task, living a complete lie. One is asked to spend his life in the underbelly of society as an undercover cop, while the other is asked to be a mole in the police department. The story revolves around the two finding out that each other exists and attempting to reveal their identity. What makes this story so breathtaking is the way that the characters are developed. You'll find that you become as passionate and emotional as they are in their endeavors.
Review by Jeffrey Robinson
4. Columbo: The Complete First Season
While Columbo is an older television series that started in the 1970s, it's still one of the greats. This series stars the amazing Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo, an amazing criminal investigator, who unravels mystery after mystery. However, the mystery in each episode doesn't follow the typical whodunit, but rather focuses on how Columbo will connect the perpetrator(s) to the crime. One of the best aspects of the series is the approach in which Falk handles Columbo. While this first season release only has nine episodes their runtime clock in at one and a half TV hours (approximately 80 minutes per episode), which is more than enough amazing mysteries that will intrigue you for a long time.
Review by John Sinnott
5. Homicide: Life on the Street - Seasons 4 & 5
Homicide is an extremely underrated and highly addictive television series. It revolves around the homicide division of Baltimore Police Department. The fourth and fifth seasons both offer many hours of gripping drama that is attained through superb acting performances and excellently written stories. One of the strongest aspects about the series is how it develops its characters. The series focuses upon the interactions and relationships between the homicide detectives and creates characters that you truly care about. The fourth and fifth seasons are filled with some of the best drama that can be found on television. Both DVD box sets contain all of the twenty-two episodes for each season and there are plenty of story arcs that span multiple episodes and season four offers a few cameos from Law & Order regulars.
Review of Season 4 and Season 5 by Jeffrey Robinson
6. Cop Land: Director's Cut
Cop Land is one of those rare films that provides provocative action, intense drama, and an amazing cast, i.e. Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, and Robert Patrick. In this film, Stallone plays a sheriff of a small town in New Jersey. The town also happens to be a place where a number of New York City cops live. With so many cops there is very little need for a sheriff and makes for a dull setting from the sheriff's point of view. However, it turns out that this quiet little town is filled with mystery and intrigue. When a young cop gets killed on the border between New York and New Jersey, a truth slowly unravels that the cops will stop at nothing to hide. And caught in the middle is the big bad Stallone, who only wants to enforce the law.
Review by Gil Jawetz
7. Cracker: The Complete Second & Third Seasons
Cracker is a British psychological thriller that revolves around a guy named Fitz. He's a forensic psychologist with a gift. He is a master at reading people and can easily understand the motivation and the personality of anyone he meets. He works with the London police solving a myriad of crimes, while at the same time dealing with his own personal problems. The series itself takes a different approach than most television series, as we have stories that arc throughout many episodes. It takes a refreshing approach that will hook viewers in just one episode.
Review of Season 2 by John Sinnott and Season 3 by Bill Gibron
8. Law & Order: Criminal Intent - The Third Year
Criminal Intent is the second spin-off series based upon Law & Order. It takes a much different approach than its predecessor by providing a series with a strong emphasis on mystery. Instead of dealing with a unique focus on 'law' and 'order', Criminal Intent has more of a Sherlock Holmes feeling. The primary detective Robert Goren is man who's ingenious is surpassed by no one. He seems to know a little bit about anything and everything, and always manages to see things that others miss. The third season offers a number of great episodes and includes a change of pace for the series, when Goren breaks in a new partner.
Review by Jeffrey Robinson
9. Starsky & Hutch (2004)
The strength of the 2004 feature film Starsky & Hutch isn't the storyline, but rather the slapstick comedy that comes from the interaction between actors Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Will Farrell. The movie is based upon the 70s television and stars Stiller and Wilson as respectively as Starsky and Hutch, two screwball cops. During the course of the movie, they repeatedly run into the bad guys played by Vaughn and Farrell. Of course each meeting is outrageously funny. On the downside, the approach feels a little too much like every other Stiller and Wilson driven feature.
Reviews by Mike Long and Aaron Beierle
10. S.W.A.T. - Superbit
S.W.A.T. isn't one of the greatest movies of all time. In fact, it's way down on the list of greats. There are several aspects that help make this movie fail in greatness, some of which include its cast, overacting, and a mildly entertaining storyline. So what's to like about S.W.A.T.? One word, action. The strength of a movie like S.W.A.T. comes from all the flash that comes from the action scenes and the cheesy dialogue. That's what makes this movie entertaining. This superbit re-release offers a version without extras, but more glorious technical aspects. You'll find that the movie is just as catchy as the theme song!
Review by Francis Rizzo III
Notable considerations include: Boomtown Season One, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Season 3 and Season 4, Law & Order: The Second Year and The Fourteenth Year, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - The Fifth Year, Reno 911: The Complete First Season, The Shield: The Complete Second Season, Sledgehammer: The First Season, and The Wire: The Complete First Season