Nov 13 2014 12:00pm

When TV Romance Turns to Murder, You Can Win!

For me, it all started with Ned and Nancy. Nancy Drew was an independent woman (girl) but she still made room in her busy sleuthing schedule to let Ned hang around and bounce clues off. He was the best type of book boyfriend.

Then came Moonlighting (1985-1989). Maddie (Cybill Shepherd) lost her money to a cheating manager and only wants to sell the failing detective agency run by David (Bruce Willis). Instead, he talks her into keeping and running the business, thinking she’d be a silent partner.  He realized quickly, he was wrong.

I loved the romantic tension in this story. Both David and Maddie used the attraction between them to get their way and sometimes, the viewer even fell into believing the promise of more. 

Bones (2005-present) also presents a mix of male/female lead characters. Temperance Brennon (Emily Deschanel) is logical to a fault, and her partner, Sealy Booth (David Boreanaz) is the emotional one. Watching these two dance around their possible relationship while they solved the murder case gave viewers a different insight into the characters and their strengths and weaknesses.

Now, Bones is grittier than Moonlighting. Where Maddie and David were chasing cheating husbands, Bones and Booth are determining who murdered the body found in the basement of the local pub. With the help of a team of science nerds usually confined to the inside of the Jeffersonian forensic lab, you never know what piece of evidence will blow the case open. 

For several seasons, Bones and Booth denied their attraction for each other.  When Maddie and David gave into the desire, it killed the conflict in the story. In my opinion, Bones stayed interesting because the story wasn’t only focused on the romantic tension. Now, they struggle with larger relationship issues like childcare or career decisions. Decisions the rest of us deal with every day.

Castle (2009–present) is another couple based detective show. Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) needs Detective Kate Beckett’s (Stana Katic) access to crime scenes to develop new plot lines as a novel writer. Beckett, in the beginning, feels saddled with the responsibility of keeping a civilian safe. However, as things progress, the viewer feels the conflict between the two grow and like any good romance, the story is best when he’s pushing and she’s running away. Or vice versa.

Now, their relationship has been called out into the open in the last few seasons. And true to form, the closer they get to their happy ever after, the more walls get thrown in their way. Last season ended with Castle rushing to their wedding. I’m thinking the show’s writers are trying to avoid the Moonlighting curse. But they may have painted themselves into a corner.

Then there’s the twist on Sherlock Holmes and Watson, in Elementary (2012-present). Here Watson (Lucy Liu) started out as Sherlock’s (Jonny Lee Miller) sobriety counselor, a job the highly skilled surgeon took on after one too many disasters in her medical career. As a romance writer, I’m in awe of the clever way the show’s writers got the hero and heroine in close confines together, and a way for them to have to interact in an adversarial manner. Conflict flies in the first season. And when it’s time for Watson to walk away, the viewer almost believes she might just leave.

Instead, Watson becomes Holmes’ intern, learning the craft of investigation. Could it have been the excitement of the chase that brought these two together? Or is there a bit of attraction that may float to the surface sooner than later? I believe in true love, so my money’s on the couple finding each other. Season three is just beginning and I’m watching my DVR to make sure I get my Elementary fix.

This season, I’m intrigued by the new show, Forever. Again, we have a male/female role but with a twist. Henry (Ioan Gruffudd) lives forever. A curse that most of us might wish for, but he struggles with his plight. And Jo (Alana De La Garza), the female detective that partners with the British medical examiner brings stability to the show. Add in some adorable quirky characters like the coroner assistant and Henry’s elderly son, Abraham, and you have a delightful show. One that I hope stays around.

 The romance is very light so far in the show. The plotting is focused on solving the mystery, by following the clues and watching Henry put together bits and pieces. The show is promising. The topics they investigate surrounds around the living forever theme. In one episode, they were studying a codex with layers of ancient text. Abraham, the son, runs an antique shop. Another focuses on a wonder drug that helps people live longer. For a show that circles around death, the story is positive and interesting.

Sleuthing couples are better with a good mystery to solve. Otherwise, it’s just a happy ever after story. And once they reach that, the Moonlighting curse is in full effect and the show’s audience is ready for the next romance-turned-murder-mystery team.

And it all started with Ned and Nancy.

What are your favorite detective couples?

* * * * *

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Comment below for a chance to win the complete set of Tourist Trap series from Lynn Cahoon, including Guidebook to Murder, Mission to Murder, and If the Shoe Kills.

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USA Today and New York Times best-selling author Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small-town life. Currently, she’s living in another small, historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Rebecca Brothers
1. RileyC
My classic couple has to be Nick and Nora Charles. I am loving Henry and Jo on Forever, though, and hope we get to see that go somewhere.
Jane Schwarz
2. Janeschwarz
I really like Bones and Booth. The interaction between them, as they solve crimes, is facinating. Neither one has the upper hand, both are equal in how they go about getting the information needed to identify and get the culprit. Thank you for the opportunity to win a set of the Tourist Trap series.
3. maryc
I enjoyed watching Laura and Steele in Remingtion Steele.
Coby Scott
4. cobyjean
The chemistry between Castle and Beckett is off the charts! They are my favorite couple.
Gordon Bingham
5. gordonbingham
The conflicts thrown into Elemetary so far this season have only heightened the tensions vetween SHerlock and Joan...well done!
Michelle St. James
9. michstjame
My all-time favorite sleuthing couple is Mulder and Scully from The X Files. Oh, how I loved that show--at least until David Duchovny left. Thanks for the chance to win The Tourist Trap Series, which looks like a LOT of fun!
11. Christine Groce
I love mystery books based on couples. Please count me in. Thanks.
13. Shannon Baas
Looks like a good book.
Linda Peters
15. linnett
Love to have these, thanks for the chance
19. Raymond Stone
In it to WIN it! Thank You!
20. galena penrod
looks like a good read
Lynn Cahoon
21. LynnCahoon
Sorry guys. I've been held up a bit to responding... The gothic part of me wants to say I've been held against my will at the hospital after a surgery, but all in all, I got out after just 2 days which is pretty quick.

I loved Remington Steele... And the X factor - will have to look up Nick and Nora Charles... I've got a few weeks of recovery time to fill....

Thanks for playing while I was gone. Great discussions...
23. Ioanna Coussoule
Looks like a great read.
charlotte baker
25. charbaker81
There are so many great couples. i do love booth and bones.
Janice Santillo
27. themommazie
I love those 'couples 'murder shows. Very interesting.
28. kpowers784
I love Castle and Beckett and also Henry and Jo on Forever.
Lorena Keech
29. llkee
I'm a fan of all the couples you mentioned. I like Jane and Lisbon on The Mentalist as well.
31. GW
Liked Maddie and David from Moonlighting
32. Goldenmane
Nick and Nora Charles. And, of course, Asta!
Irene Menge
33. Goldenmane
Nick and Nora Charles. And, of course, Asta!
34. matt roren
i'm a big fan of Bones and Booth!
lynette thompson
I love a good mystery, this book is perfect for me.
Karen Mikusak
36. labrat35
99 and 86 from Get Smart! Would love to win.
David Boyington
38. tardisguy
My favorite sleuthing duo has to be Sherlock and Watson.
Lynn Cahoon
39. LynnCahoon
oooohhhhh 99 and 86 - Loved her mini dresses...
40. MissieFaye
Of course Nancy and Ned, though she was usually with Bess and George, Nick and Nora Charles, and can I mention Holmes and Watson (even though they are both men)? Oh, one more couple I love: Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane.
42. Carolyn D
My aunt is an avid reader of mystery and murder novels. I think she would love the The Tourist Trap Series.
Clydia DeFreese
44. clydia
Since I've been thinking about pairs, I recognize I prefer the singles who work out the mysteries......Sharon McCone, Mrs. Pollifax, etc. Amelia Peabody...but I enjoy looking at Della Street while Perry Mason does the heavy lifting! As long as the story is interesting, I have a great time figuring out all the angles. Thanks for the sweeps!
Joyce Mitchell
45. JoyceLm
Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes are my favorite sleuthing couple. Thanks.
Ellen Measday
46. emeasday
Amelia Peabody and Emerson! How I miss Barbara Peters/Mertz.
Agnes Zelgert
47. AgnesZelgert
I have enjoyed all the couples mentioned and I also enjoyed reading the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus series as well.
Francis Cardosi
48. stridr222
Nick and Nora win followed closely by Moonlighting.
Erin Hartshorn
50. ErinMH
Love Nick and Nora, but I was also amused by Jessica Fletcher and Amos, who obviously adored her.
patty marsh
51. pattymarsh
Would love to win. My favorite couples go back ages-Nick and Nora and Pam and Jerry North (written by Richard and Frances Lockridge.
52. AndiLynn
You might consider them more of a dramatic intrigue kind of couple, but I do think of them as a high-tension, problem-solving couple...Elizabeth and Henry McCord from the new show, Madam Secretary. I really like how there is "normal" couple, family, and work conflicts within their relationship, and how they work them out together as a team. I also very much like that they are BOTH intelligent and bring something to the partnership. It's almost a novelty compared with so many other shows.
Bonnie Karoly
55. grobiemum
I grew up with the Nancy Drew mysteries. Loved them. Now, I watch many crime shows such as Bones and Castle.
Kim Akers
56. kakers
I loved the back-and-forth, will-they-won't-they of Remington Steele. Current favorites are Joan and Sherlock in Elementary and my new favorite Walter and Paige in Scorpion.
Teresa Young
57. tmy56
We never niss an episode of Castle & hope the series uses the marriage to their advantage.
Andrew LaNeve
59. Andrew L.
Looks like a fun series. Thanks for the chance!
Michael Carter
60. rubydog
Castle & Beckett and Nick & Nora Charles
Please enter me in this sweepstakes.
Joanne Mielczarski
61. jtmswim
I love all these shows and I'm sure I'll love all these books,
Andra Dalton
62. andra77
Nothing gets me going like a good murder mystery!!! Can't wait to find out more about this series as well!!! Thanks for the opportunity to win & good luck to all who enter!!!:)
Betsy Whitmarsh
63. Yogamom67
Some of my favorite shows - can't wait to read the books!
Allison Moyer
64. The Loopy Librarian
Back in the day, I was a huge Moonlighting fan. Maddie and David were hilarious together and the tension was taught. I remember being really disappointed that they wouldn't just acknowledge that they liked each other. It was frustrating that they couldn't work it out. I'm glad that shows like Bones have managed so far to find that balance that keeps them going.
Kristi Amick
66. beckmank
Nancy Drew is what got me hooked on mysteries, so of course Nancy/Ned is a favorite. Another is Hamish Macbeth and Priscilla (or Elspeth!). I enjoy him bouncing ideas off of either female companion in the MC Beaton series.
Heather Martin
67. CrystalMirror
I'm enjoying Henry and Jo, and Icabod and Abby on Sleepy Hollow this season. But, classic series are Mulder and Scully, and Nick and Nora.
Charlene Roberson
68. TXCharley
Nick and Nora Charles - by a mile. But I also enjoyed the tension on Remington Steele...........
Susan Pertierra
69. orchidlady01
For me, it started with Trixie Belden - The Secret of the Mansion. I started reading Nancy Drew books after I discovered mysteries.
Caryn Stardancer
70. cstardancer
Sherlock and Mary Russell, Nick and Nora, Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, Thomas Lynley and Barbara Havers although there's no romantic undertone ... and can't forget Stephanie Plum and Ranger.
Beth Talmage
72. wordygirl
Oh, I truly loved Tommy and Helen/St. James and Deborah from Elizabeth George--but I think the alternate couplings were equally interesting, such as the friendships between St. James & Tommy, and between Deb and Tommy, and Helen and St. James.

But as a previous commenter, clydia, noted, I also find the single sleuths very compelling. Amelia Pollifax is a particular favorite.
i love all the couples have always been for romance and mysteries sice DAY 1 THANK YOU
Madelyn Quest
74. Madelyn
I have to throw into this duo mix, the series Remington Steele, with Pierce Brosnan and Stephanie Zimbalist. I also wonder how Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot would have handled a mystery working together. Just thinking about that makes me smile.
Linda Kish
75. ljkish
Nick and Nora were great. And now I get my fix with Castle and Beckett.
Susan Wilkinson
79. srw59
I enjoyed the past programs listed, also liked Remingtong Steele, Scarecrow & Mrs. King. Currently I like to watch Bones and really enjoy Castle, curious to see where they will go now that they are married.
Diane Stedner
81. caseykelp
Please count me in. Sounds like an awesome read.
Janet Best
82. Bestjlb
I enjoyed Scarecrow and Mrs. King and am eagerly following Forever. Nancy and Ned were great, too! I would love to read this series and thank you for the giveaway!
Jody Darden
83. jldarden
labrat 35> almost forgot about 'Get Smart'. Great show! This book sound amusing.
Janet Stewart
85. JustJanet
My favorite detective couple is Chet and Bernie. Hey, no one said it had to be a male/female
susan beamon
86. susanbeamon
I like all of them. I don't have an odds on favorite, although Remington Steele and Laura have a slight edge.
87. Neroon
Elementery and Forever are ones to watch.
88. Betty C
I enjoy all the couples already mentioned but I think my favorite is Bones and Booth
Kathy Fannon
90. Kathy F
Interesting article. We'll see how Castle pans out.
Carol Gowett
91. clynsg
I do like the romantic tension, but through several series have learned that it takes some really good writing and acting to maintain the interest once the romance is admitted and worked into the story.
Janice Milliken
92. msjiva
My all time favorite crime solving couple is The Charles's.
Saundra K. Warren
93. shortiew
You all have picked some great ones! And I'd have to agree on almost all of them!!
94. sheeera007
I really enjoyed "The Avengers" with John Steed & Emma Peel when I was a kid.
Frank Polgar
95. flat6s
Loved "The Avengers" also. John Steed and Emma Peel!
Karen Terry
96. bblol65
Abby and Ichabod on Sleepy Hollow and there is a little flirting between them even though Ichabod has a wife.
Martha Gifford
98. seeword
Steed & Mrs. Peel, Nick & Nora, David & Maddie
Jeanette Jackson
101. lindahl
I'd have to say Bones and Booth are my favorite couple
Brenda Elsner
103. brat52101
I would love to have these!! Thanks for the chance to win them!!!
Shauntea Crutcher
104. tiac32
This definately sounds like a series that I would enjoy. Hope that I win.
Buddy Garrett
107. garrettsambo
Nick and Nora Charles are my favorite detective couple.
Karen Koziczkowski
110. zoom38
I love these shows and writers whose inspired them! Thanks for the chance to win!
Heather Cowley
111. choochoo
Looks like I'll have to add the latter two show to my DVR! Also, can't wait to read this one!
Lawrence Mercer
112. lcmercer
Thanks for the chance to win, so make my chance a winner!
114. Tim H. Moss
Good deal, count me in!
115. missmeigs
Trixie and Jim from the children's Belden Mysteries series
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