There are top-rated crime shows every season these days, with something illegal to appeal to anybody somewhere on the airwaves. Whether it’s the tone, the characters or the narrative, the diverse range of crime storytelling hits chords with all kinds of viewing markets.
It’s our contention that some of these chords must intertwine, and make sweet, sweet TV love with each other. Or, more likely, make an absolute disaster of a show that would be too ridiculous not to watch.
These are those 5 TV Crime Show Crossovers That Must Happen.
Sons of Anarchy and Weeds
Both Sons of Anarchy and Weeds are about families doing what they must to eke out a living in the hard-bitten modern world of tanking housing markets and vanishing retirement funds. In both cases, these intrepid Californian homemakers resort to peddling drugs. In once case, hilarity and absurdity ensues. In the other case, Mary-Louise Parker pulls off the MILF thing to a tee.
For one, Weeds worked best in California. It was a spot-on send-up of the breed of empty-headed superficiality that shimmers on every level of Orange County. Exporting the Botwin family worked no better than if the next season of Sons of Anarchy saw the Teller-Morrow clan setting up shop in Manhattan.
For another, Weeds could go with far more grit, while Sons of Anarchy could use the humor. Weeds knows this, hence the revolving gallery of two-bit thugs that breeze through Nancy Botwin’s life. Why not go high-octane and send the Sons rolling into town? The scene of Uncle Andy getting hazed into the motorcycle club alone would be worth it.
Tattoos and Tupperware parties, bar fights and bar-mitzvahs, this collision of suburban superficiality with hard-core biker-gang violence could really bring people together.
TUNE IN FOR
Mid-season in Sons of Anarchy Weeds, Nancy is having a devil of a time getting her youngest son, Shane, into his high-school’s advanced placement program. She turns to the aid of her trusted drug-peddling partner and on-again-off-again friend with benefits, Jax Teller of the Sons of Anarchy.
Jax doesn’t want to get involved, but lets Nancy’s problem slip in order to avoid yet another frigging conversation with club big kahuna, Clay Morrow, about who killed Jax’s father. Morrow proceeds to draw and quarter the high-school guidance counselor. This leaves the position open for the luminous Kevin Nealon to take over.
Unfortunately for all, Uncle Andy has convinced the rejected Shane that the only advanced-placement program he needs to join is the Sons of Anarchy. Andy and his new best bud, Tig Trager, decide it’s time to boost their spirits by rolling hard against The Mayans. The closing scene sees Shane, Tig and Andy mounting their hogs and riding off for Mayan turf for a rumble.
24 and The Wire
Devastatingly popular, genre-busting and addictive, 24 and The Wire were giants bestride the land of crime TV during their runs. As giants go, though, they were about as compatible as Godzilla and King Kong. One is a show about saving the world about four times in the space of 24 hours. The other is a show about how nothing positive gets done, ever.
Opposites may not always attract, but they’re cash in the bank for TV show premises—Perfect Strangers, Alf, Voltron. Why not apply the same to two of the most heralded crime series of our generation? If teaming up Tom Hanks with a sad-faced hound could net nearly double the budget in domestic box office, having 24 ignite The Wire is mathematically certain to approach Super Bowl levels of small-screen revenue.
Besides, 24 is basically a response to The Wire anyway. We live in the world of The Wire with its incompetence and bungling and wasteful spending that only slows a swift decline into social disaster. We want the cosmic justice of 24, where running and leaping and shooting—and at least two scenes of quality time between Jack Bauer, a suspect and a car battery—can rescue the planet. I say, slam these two forces together and see what shakes out.
Cutting through the red tape with a Gordian Knot solution like Hamsterdam didn’t go far enough, Wire. You need Jack Bauer to torture some sense into your hopeless tales of endemic poverty.
TUNE IN FOR
The Wire, 24: Hour #7. Jack Bauer and Kima Gregg are recovering from their first surprise kiss after the heat of battle. Marlo Stanfield’s entire crew—even Snoop!—have been annihilated in a high-speed shoot-out involving Cadillac Escalades and AK-47s. Now, with Marlo’s gang gone and Proposition Joe slain by mustard gas in episode 2, Herc Hauk’s death is avenged.
Or is it? What’s this? Lester Freeman has intercepted word that Jack and The Wire’s investigating detail was misled in chasing down Marlo for Joe’s death. If what Lester’s hearing from his illegal tap of Senator Clay Davis’ line is right, they were set up! Jack and the cops were tricked into eliminating the competition of none other than Brother Mouzone. And if Jack Bauer knows one thing, it’s that “Brother Mouzone” means a Muslim, and Muslims plus politicians means dirty bombs on the way. Or viruses. Probably both. Yeah, both.
As the clock ticks on, Jack and Kima must rush to stop Senator Davis and the Muslim Brotherhood from blowing up Baltimore’s slums to incite a religious race war, while seeking out the corpse of Omar Little—the only man immune to Brother Mouzone’s deadly Inshallah virus. But with his body missing, the question becomes — is Omar Little truly dead?
Also, MacNulty gets drunk and embarrasses his fiancée’s kids at the King’s Dominion amusement park.
Breaking Bad and Castle
Both these successful shows have become household names for their top-shelf writing, while at the same time being widely accused of jumping the shark. And I say, let’s not just jump that motherfucking shark. Let’s ramp off it and hang-glide.
Breaking Bad is all about the steady, excruciating decline of a downtrodden high-school science teacher and family man who, when diagnosed with terminal cancer, turns to dealing meth in order to support his wife and disabled son. Castle is about as far afield from this as possible in tone, narrative and characters—it’s a buddy-based crime-comedy where a kooky but brilliant mystery writer, Rick Castle, is teamed up with an NYPD homicide detective, Kate Beckett. Why produce the kind of messy insanity that combining two so completely divergent shows?
Well, because they’re already diving into the realm of messy insanity. Breaking Bad’s lead character, Walt, is getting away with more and more contrived deceptions to maintain his secret speed-peddling lifestyle. Meanwhile, Castle has to suspend disbelief well beyond the snapping point to sustain its premise of a writer working together with an NYPD cop for over three dozen major cases.
So if you’re going into La-La Land, own that bitch. Really stick it to reality. You’re making a lot of money out of it and, if market trends are any indication—see 24, above—going even further apeshit will only make you more.
TUNE IN FOR
Walt’s made it to mid-season of Breaking Bad Castle, working as Castle’s forensic technical advisor for a sick amount of money, but his sideline business as a drug-dealer is meddling again. Cartel assassins are using high-tech poisons to whack rival meth dealers in New York City, and Walt’s pretty sure they’ll take him out soon. That is, if Castle and Kate don’t look too closely at the case and find out he’s a crank dealer first.
As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, Walt can tell that his wife, Skyler, has tropical-level hots for the dashing Rick Castle. Are those feelings mutual, or is Castle just being his flirtatious self? It’s all a muddle, though not nearly as vexing—or as hot—as Kate’s secret boot-knocking sessions with Walt’s young partner, Jesse.
The Mentalist and Justified
The Mentalist and Justified haul in the critical acclaim and the big numbers with their brands of one-man justice. Justified features Elmore Leonard’s Raylan Givens, Federal Marshall, trying to right the many wrongs of his coal-town East Kentucky birthplace. The Mentalist features a savvy, snarky traveling detective whose powers of observation seem supernatural at times.
Did you just hear me mention “snarky traveling detective” in the same paragraph as an East Kentucky law man? The conflict just explodes out of that. The Mentalist’s best fate in the Rust Belt bad-ass realm of Justified is as “hated carpetbagger.” More likely would be “Aryan Nation rape bait.” Sassy outsiders do as well in Kentucky as gerbils do in a case full of starving hyenas. We’d really get to see the Mentalist’s powers put to the test in a land where even the authorities would feel inclined—and justified—to curb stomp him for mouthing off at them.
The flipside benefit is that one of the strengths of Justified is its characters’ motivations. The story is populated by clannish hot-heads that see the law as a means to an end at best and an obstacle most of the time. Even Raylan, who’s usually as upright as a new pair of boots, has his moments where he doesn’t let due process get in the way of a righteous ass-whipping. Fitting Patrick Jane, the Mentalist, in among them would let the writing dig deep into psyches that otherwise just fume underground before exploding in unexpected ways. Sure, that might ruin the surprise in some cases, but there’d be plenty of surprises for the reasons above — namely, it would be a surprise that Patrick lived through every episode.
Most of all, we’d finally get to find out whether Boyd Crowder is on the up-and-up, or just has the patience of Doctor Doom when it comes to scheming.
TUNE IN FOR
The season finale of The Justified Mentalist: Patrick is getting used to his new winning smile, after Raylan knocked out the last one over saucy remarks Pat made to Raylan’s sweetheart, Winona. It’s time to put the past in the past and go after the Crowder Clan. After all, just about everybody else is dead from the last season of Justified.
Clued onto a massive small-arms stash that Boyd has been amassing for purposes unknown, Patrick and Raylan descend on Harlan to get answers about his intentions. Boyd distracts Raylan by staging an attack on Ava’s home. Once Patrick’s on his own, Boyd’s flunkies thump him and drag him off to a hideout for a sit-down with Boyd. Boyd makes it clear he’s going to kill Patrick but, as they walk the Mentalist off into the East Kentucky woods for a date with an unmarked grave, Patrick gleans a core truth about Boyd: He’s offing Patrick on grounds of jealousy over Raylan’s attention. Is it learned too late, or will his powers of hypnosis prevail over his would-be executioner, hapless masturbator, Dewey Crow?
CSI: Miami and Dexter
One is a show about a lab geek who spends most of his time racking up body counts and battling crime outside the law while never letting people truly get close to him. The other is Dexter. Both shows are examples of how an audience will sacrifice common sense and suspend trailer-loads of disbelief for the sake of wish-fulfillment.
CSI: Miami and Dexter need a crossover for the same reason cake and ice cream need a crossover: They are just too perfectly matched for one another. Also, not really good for you. Neither is particularly believable. Both feature Miami, explosions, vigilantism, copious bloodshed and a cast that’s way, way too attractive to comprise a law-enforcement office.
The only way that Horatio Caine, with his expert marksmanship and sunglasses-tagline two-punch, could seem sane enough to exist is if you set a crime-fighting serial killer next to him. Besides, they’d bond over their butchered mothers and their tendency to attract people with lifelong vendettas against them.
TUNE IN FOR
An episode of CSI: Miami Dexter would feature Caine tracking down Dexter for a real shocker—murdering his own mother…who’s been dead for 30 years. After a harrowing chase through girls’ beach volleyball tournaments and a motocross track, they would tussle.
The twist hits when it turns out that Dexter’s mother isn’t dead—she’s alive and trying to frame him for the murder. The woman who child-age Dexter witnessed being chainsawed to pieces three decades ago was actually his mother’s long-lost identical twin. Mother Dexter has been preserving DNA evidence from that event ever since, and used it to fake her own death and frame Dexter. Why? Because crazy runs in families, and that has been motive enough for five seasons of Dexter.
Caine’s forensic voodoo sorts all this out, and the two hit the trail to bring down Mother Dexter. She narrowly escapes them in a helicopter. It explodes after Caine downs it with the Stinger missile issued to all Miami lab techs’ vehicles. She survives, but is wounded, and Dexter must stab her to death with a brooch she gave him as a baby, to put her out of her misery.
+Matthew Funk is a social media consultant, professional marketing copywriter and writing mentor. He is the editor of the Genre section of the critically acclaimed zine, FictionDaily and Full Stop. Winner of the Spinetingler award for Best Short Story on the Web 2010, M. C. Funk has been published at numerous sites online, indexed at his Web site, and in print with Needle Magazine, Howl, 6S and Crime Factory. He is represented by Stacia J. N. Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.