‘By the way, my name is Max. I take care of them, which ain’t easy, because their hobby is murder.’ Back in the early 1980s, when everything was lovelier, we were all so innocent that our idea of a brilliant and original new detective formula went like this: they’re sleuths — but they’re also rich and married! (Or, in the case of Magnum: he’s a sleuth — but he has a moustache and he lives on Hawaii! Or, with Bergerac: he’s a sleuth —but he lives on Jersey and is named after a region of France. Etc.)
These days, we are a lot more jaded and knowing and series creators have to work harder when devising their high-concept set-ups. The premise of Prodigal Son, for example, is that one half of the crime-battling duo is Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne), a semi-deranged prescription drug addict working for the New York Police Department while the other is his dad Martin (Michael Sheen), a behind-bars serial killer who used his surgical skills to inflict especially excruciating deaths on his victims.