Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The 10 most useless policemen in TV history.

I got the boxset of that old Batman TV show from the 1960s for my birthday - a show I loved as a child and it's fascinating to watch it again all these years later. Despite the campness and Adam West's hilarious moralising, I absolutely love it. One thing I did notice that I didn't remember from the original is the absolute uselessness of the police characters in the show. This got me thinking - there are basically three types of coppers in television as follows: a) Maverick Geniuses b) Corrupt or c) Thick and/or useless. Quite what the average real policeman makes of all these portrayals is anyone's guess, presumably most of them in the real world are fairly ordinary but that wouldn't make good television.

Therefore I thought as a bit of fun I would present to you my 10 most useless policeman in TV history. Note this is based only on my own personal experience of shows I've actually watched, so I apologise if there's any glaring omissions but I can't write about what I haven't seen.

So here we go then, in descending order of uselessness:

10) Andy Bellefleur - True Blood [2008-2014]

"Looks like this one's got me stumped"

To be fair to Andy, it can't be easy to be a sheriff in a town filled with vampires, werewolves and assorted other weirdoes, but even so, Andy is pretty useless. Even when he's not either pissed or on "V" (vampire blood) his crime-solving capabilities are pretty non-existent. He spent the whole of the first season barking up the wrong tree in a murder mystery and things went downhill from there. I presume that Andy's character was created for a bit of light diversion in a show which has more blood and gore than than any other I have ever seen. He is one of my favourite characters in the show.

9) Frank Drebin - Police Squad [1982] + The Naked Gun movies.

A true comedy legend, if you've never seen the original Police Squad episodes on which The Naked Gun movies were based on, they are worth checking out. Again to be fair to Frank, he was probably the least incompetent of the Police Squad team, Norberg and Ed being truly useless, but even so, most of the crimes were solved more by luck than judgement and usually involved a fair amount of mayhem either on the road (crashing into every trash can going) or at the scene (burning down an entire office destroying vital evidence). In one episode he found some vital missing evidence in the back of filing cabinet proving a man's innocence years after the trial. When informed the man had gone to the electric chair, he threw it away.

8) Sergeant Chisholm - Minder [1979-1994]

"I'll get you, Daley".

Chisholm was one of a number of police officers throughout Minder's run who Arthur and Terry ran into as a result of their dubious activities. Although seemingly a reasonable competent officer to begin with, over the years he became obsessed to the point of paranoia with "nicking Arthur Daley" leading to increasingly desperate attempts to outwit him that always ended in failure and humiliation. Arthur was simply able to run rings around him and eventually he was forced to quit the force as a result.

7) Bob Louis & Dave Briggs - The Detectives [1993-1997]

Quite how these two idiots lasted as long as they did in the police force is a mystery, but probably down predominantly to luck more than anything else. Both single and hopeless failures with women, their jobs and each other are all they have. More interested in trivia (such as coming up with all the second names of football teams in the English league) rather than concentrating on what they are supposed to be doing, their ineptitude knows no bounds. Usually by some fluke or other they end up solving the crime against the odds and survive to another day.

6) Chief Wiggum - The Simpsons [1989 - present]

"Sorry, can't come right now, I'm busy".

More interested in eating than doing any actual work (hey, there's hope for me yet), Chief Wiggum is pretty useless most of the time. When he does bother to do any work he frequently gets the wrong end of the stick, failing to follow any sort of proper procedure. Often he doesn't even bother responding to emergency calls, especially if he's busy lazing around or eating. He's not the laziest policeman on our list, though, the worst is yet to come.

5) P.C. Reg Deadman - Goodnight Sweetheart [1993-1999]

This idiot was seen in two different eras - as a moderately competent policeman in the 1990's and a truly useless one during WWII. He is generally portrayed as being completely thick and never seems to do any actual police work, preferring to hang around in the pub which Gary visits in the 1940's. Despite Gary being so obviously out of place and mysterious, Reg never seems to cotton on to this - perhaps it is just as well he didn't encounter any spies during the war as it's unlikely he would have rumbled them.

4) Phil and Nige - Early Doors [2003-2004]

"Crime won't crack itself!"

Possibly the laziest police officers ever to grace our screens, Phil and Nige used to turn up at the pub for a free drink, knocking on the back door and making themselves at home in the kitchen rather than mixing with the regulars in the bar. It goes without saying that all drinks are expected to be on the house. If calls come in while they are there, they ignore them, "someone else will probably go", unless it's something they can turn to their advantage such as a ram raid on an off-licence where they can be first on the scene and help themselves to some goods.

3) PC Plum - Balamory [2002-2005]

What's the story in Balamory?

OK, I know it's a kids show so is not going to be full of murders and robberies but even so, PC Plum is exceptionally lame. His job seems to consist of helping children look for wildlife, popping in to see various other characters for a cup of tea and riding about on his bike singing songs. His main piece of detective equipment appears to be a magnifying glass. Like I said, there's not a lot of crime in Balamory, though Miss Hoolie should be arrested for that hairstyle alone. If a real crime ever did come along he'd probably shit his pants.

2) Chief O' Hara - Batman [1966-1968]

"Hmmm, this is a tricky one, Commissioner".

The man who inspired this blog entry, he is exceptionally dim. He reports to Commissioner Gordon and most episodes include a scene with the two of them in the office discussing the latest crime to have been committed and deciding that they need to call Batman in. Gordon himself seems reasonably competent, but they still prefer summoning Batman to trying to solve things themselves. O' Hara himself is portrayed as incredibly thick, unable to work out what is going on most of the time, e.g. The Riddler's comparatively easy riddles. Presumably Gordon keeps him on hand to make himself look good by comparison. O Hara's contribution to the crime-fighting is minimal, usually arriving on the scene just in time to cart the villains away after Batman and Robin have done all the hard work.

And finally...

1) PC Joe Penhale - Doc Martin [2004 - present]

Joe is actually the second policeman to appear in Doc Martin, the first one being only marginally less useless. From the off he's up against it as a policeman, suffering from narcolepsy and agoraphobia but it is his over enthusiastic approach that usually leads to the most problems. Far from helping the Doc, he usually ends up making things worse in his desperate attempt to show everyone what a crime-fighting superhero he is. Some of his finest moments include:

a) Stapling his hand to a lamppost whilst putting up warning notices about asbestos.
b) A disastrous siege at a farm when a gun goes off and he thinks he has been shot.
c) Going on a survival course in the wilds, attempting to shoot a rabbit for dinner and instead shooting himself in the foot.
d) Being left dangling on a hook by the Military Police after trying to get involved in army business.

And many more...

So that's my all time Top 10 incompetent TV cops. Hope you enjoyed it!

Jason Ayres is the author of six books, including his brand new novel, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday, available here:

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant. Some of my favourite comedies in there. Have the box set of Police Squad & The Detectives. Good one.