Monday, 20 January 2014

Tank Top TV's Favourite Sleuths On VOD

By Matthew Taylor

We're fond of a good mystery here at Tank Top Tv...or are we? DUN! DUN! DUN!

Yes. Yes we are. Another case solved.

The only thing we love more than a mystery are the men and women who solve them: the sleuths of the TV world. Judging by the wealth of detective/crime/police/mystery programs on TV, we are surely not alone in our affection for the genre and its sleuths. They come in all different sorts of shapes and sizes, from the enthusiastic amateurs to the worn-down, seen-far-too-much, grouchy police detectives.

We've put together a list of 10 of our favourite TV sleuths with a couple of caveats:

  • They must be the man protagonist of the show they're in, therefore in many cases they are titular characters. This eliminates most police procedural dramas, such as CSI. Honestly, this is just to keep a list like this manageable with so many possible 'suspects', and really hone in on those maverick detectives who make the connections no-one else does.
  • They must be available on at least one On-demand services to some capacity. Sadly, this rules out quite a number of the most notorious sleuths, such as Columbo, Miss Marple and Jonathan Creek, among many others.

Without further delay lets get on the case.


Well no **** Mr Holmes made the list. They're a quite a few different versions of Sherlock Holmes that have been made for TV over the years, but we've gone with the mega hit BBC version. Benedict Cumberbatch breathes new life in to the master of deduction, alongside Martin Freeman's excellent Dr. Watson. You're our number 1 Sherlock: The king of sleuths.

There are a ton of viewing options for the first two seasons of Sherlock. At both Wuaki and Blinkbox TV you can get season 1 and 2 at £3.99 each. For the just wrapped up season 3, you can still catch episode 3 on Iplayer for free(until the 24th Jan) and individual episodes on a handful of other services are all £2.99.

2.Veronica Mars

While we had to give number 1 spot to the main man Sherlock, the rest of this list is in no particular order. Where better to head next than the fictional southern Californian town of Neptune. Veronica is a high school student who takes after her ex-sheriff, now private detective father, solving cases both big and small. The show has a nice balance between comedy, mystery and drama, with an over arching larger plot playing out over the course of the whole 1st season to keep you intrigued. Veronica is the only female sleuth to make our list, mainly because our other favourite female sleuths aren't available on on-demand services- sorry Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher.

The options for watching Veronica Mars are not extensive at the moment. You would think with the upcoming Veronica Mars movie coming later this year, maybe more services would solicit Veronica's services. Season 1 and 2 are available on Itunes for £14.99 each and season 3 can be purchased on Sony's service on an individual episode basis for £1.89.


One of the great Agatha Christie creations had to make it on to the list no doubt. We've gone with the ever so charming, Poirot. Perhaps more charming than the Belgian master of human psychology himself, is the early 20th century setting of Poirot's cases. Travelling all over Britain and around Europe and without high-tech forensic science, Poirot relies on his powers of deduction and understanding of human behaviour to solve his cases.

You can catch a fair amount of Poirot for free on ITV player currently and can rent more for the reasonable price of 99p. If you're intent on watching the 10+ series in order, Blinkbox currently has season 1-12 but not the most recent season 13. They are £17.98 a season in most cases however. If you have Lovefilm on the other hand, seasons 8-12 are currently available in the subscription package.  


Going even further back than Poirot's setting, we have the twelfth century monk Cadfael portrayed by the excellent Derek Jacobi. Cadfael, is a once crusader knight, now herbalist Anglo-Welsh monk, in charge of the gardens of Shrewsbury Abbey. I'll understand if you don't think that sounds too exciting, but give it a chance and you will see there's more to the mild-mannered monk than meets the eye. Brother Cadfael employs his logical brilliant mind to solve all manner of medieval murder mysteries. 

All 4 seasons of Cadfael are available on ITV player, each at 99p an episode.

5.Inspector Morse

Definitely the most grumpy Sleuth on our list. There's not much that doesn't seem to put this experienced detective in a bad mood, but we all know he's really got a heart of gold. Inspector Morse is the crossword, pub and opera loving detective of Oxford, who just loves to pose in front that classic red Jaguar. Not sure we'll see that image hanged up in too many garages any time soon.

There is a myriad of options for watching Inspector Morse. You can catch an episode or two for free on ITV player and rent the majority of the rest for 99p a piece. Various series are available sporadically on a multiple of the pay-as-you-go services, but your best bet for a comprehensive viewing is on Lovefilm which offers all 8 series. 


Here at Tank Top Tv we love a copper who 'doesn't play by the rules'. Idris Elba's Luther is certainly that, in fact he's quite the scary nutter. Luther's is often as aggressive, obsessive and violent as the criminals and psychopaths he hunts but he gets the job done. Got a nice coat too. Luther is another BBC production and has had 3 seasons and now a feature length film is in the works.

There are plenty of options for catching the crazy Luther's 3 seasons. Season 1 and 2 are available on Lovefilm subscription. Wuaki is cheapest for purchase of season 1 and 2 at £3.99. For season 3, the price all round is £6.99.


The majority of our list is comprised of British shows and a few American efforts, but there are plenty of European produced shows that are more than worth your time. We've gone with Wallander, a Swedish show. Wallander is a troubled detective (aren't they all) plying his trade in Ystad. The show was also remade by the BBC starring Kenneth Branagh, which is also available on VOD services.

For the Swedish version of Wallander, Lovefilm is your only option. You can catch the British remake series on Itunes at £8.97 for the cheapest option. Other foreign shows worth a mention are Inspector Montalbano and The Bridge if you get a taste for it.

8.Bored to Death

Bored to death's Jonathon Ames (played by Jason Schwartzman) is a bit of an odd one out on our list but certainly still one of my favourite TV sleuths. Ames, is a struggling author in New York city who, inspired by the many detective novels he has read, becomes an amateur private detective, advertising his unlicensed services on Craigslist. He is without doubt the most inept sleuth on our list, but one of the funniest and most enjoyable to watch.

Season 1 and 2 of Bored To Death are available on BlinkBox for  £13.99.


Robbie Coltrane's Cracker is the king of the self-abusive detective. It's like he's trying to win at vice bingo: Chain-smoking, alcohol, gambling and obesity. Full house - we have a winner. Of course, despite all his flaws, there's no one else you would rather have on the case. Dr Eddie 'Cracker' Fitzgerald is an expert at criminal psychology giving him the insight no one else sees. Story-lines in the show usually stretch over two or three episodes with multiple cliff hangers, making for very complex detailed mysteries.

If you've got Lovefilm you can catch all three seasons of Cracker on there. ITV as with other shows has some free episodes and the rest available for 99p.


There are so many sleuth/detective programs out there, shows have given their characters all kinds of twist to differentiate them. Honestly, I think it's got a bit out of hand - stuff like 'perception', 'Lie to me' or 'Person of interest'- it's got a bit too gimmicky. Monk potentially falls in to this category, perhaps even started the trend. Adrian Monk is an ex-policeman, but left the force after his wife's death in a car bombing. It takes monk 3 years, and the development of numerous phobias and OCD before he returns to solving mysteries as a private detective. 

Every season on Monk is available on GooglePlay at the price of £15.99.

So there you have it. 10 of our favourite sleuths available on VOD services. 

Head over to Tank Top TV to discover more great shows and where to watch them legally, cheaply and quickly!