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Couch Comfort: Where to watch 24 vintage TV police dramas 

Peter Falk as the title character of "Columbo."

Peter Falk as the title character of "Columbo." Credit: NBC/Everett Collection

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With most of us spending more time at home, our latest Couch Comfort guide offers TV viewers another chance to lessen their stir-craziness by catching up on some of the tube's classic offerings. This week the subject: vintage police dramas — from A ("Adam-12") to well, W ("Walker, Texas Ranger"). (Vintage, by the way, means we're arbitrarily including only shows that premiered before 2000). And just to broaden our parameters a bit, we'll throw in TV lawyers and private eyes as well.

Previous Couch Comfort guides include 112 vintage sitcoms, Westerns and "Law & Order" episodes.

(All times weekdays and weeknights, unless otherwise noted.)

Adam-12 (5-6 p.m., Me TV)

1968-75

"Dragnet's' Jack Webb cocreated this series about two L.A. cops, the veteran Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and his rookie partner Jim Reed (Kent McCord). Like "Dragnet," each episode was based on actual cases, with names changed to protect the innocent.

Barnaby Jones (4-5 a.m., MeTV)

1973-80

Buddy Ebsen segued from playing Jed Clampett on "The Beverly Hillbillies" to playing the title character, who ran a private detective agency with his daughter-in-law (played by Lee "Catwoman" Meriwether).

Cagney & Lacey (5-6 p.m., Start TV) (Amazon Prime, CBS All Access, iTunes)

1982-88

Landmark series about two female NYPD officers: the single Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless) and married Mary Beth Lacey (Tyne Daly).

Cannon (3-4 a.m., MeTV) 

1971-76

William Conrad starred as the overweight ex-cop with expensive tastes who now worked as a private investigator.

Charlie's Angels (9-10 a.m. and Saturday 3-6 p.m., Cozi)

1976-81

This megahit about three police academy-trained women (originally Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith) who went to work as private detectives for the mysterious, unseen "Charlie" (voice of John Forsythe) was responsible for the '70s phenomenon of "jiggle TV." Fun fact: The series' original title was "The Alley Cats."

Columbo (Saturday and Sunday 7-9 a.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries; Saturday 8-10 p.m., Cozi; Sunday 8-9:30 p.m., MeTV)

1971-77; 1989-90

One of the TV's most memorable characters: Peter Falk as the rumpled, trenchoat-wearing detective. Fun facts: Bing Crosby was actually the producers' first choice to play Columbo; Steven Spielberg, then 25, directed the series' first episode, "Murder by the Book."


Diagnosis: Murder

(11 a.m.-3 p.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

1993-2001

This comedy-drama-medical mystery hybrid starred Dick Van Dyke as Dr. Mark Sloan, a medical doctor who solves crimes with the help of his son Steve, a homicide detective played by Van Dyke's real-life son Barry.

Dragnet (5:30-6:30 a.m., MeTV)

1967-70

In the second incarnation (the first ran from 1952-59) of this hyper-realistic procedural, Jack Webb's Sgt. Joe Friday was partnered with a pre-"M*A*S*H" Harry Morgan as Officer Bill Gannon. Fun fact: A gang of teenage shoplifters in a 1967 episode was known as "The Mod Squad," which, of course, became the title a year later of TV's first "hip" cop show (which, alas, is not being currently shown on TV).

Hart to Hart (3-5 a.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries; Saturday 6-9 a.m., Sunday 2-4 a.m., Cozi)

1979-84

Pulp novelist Sidney Sheldon (who also created "I Dream of Jeannie") created this drama out two globe-trotting sleuths (Stefanie Powers and Robert Wagner) who would feel very comfortable appearing on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."

Highway Patrol (5-5:30 a.m., MeTV)

1955-59

Movie tough-guy Broderick Crawford ("All the King's Men") starred as Chief Dan Mathews in this popular syndicated series.

Hill Street Blues (Saturday, 12 midnight-2 a.m., H&I)

1981-87

Steven Bochco's drama (with some dark comedic elements) broke the cop-show mold and helped pave the way for more sophisticated and nuanced prime-time series.

In the Heat of the Night (WGN America, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; MeTV, 11 a.m.-Noon)

1988-95

Based on the hit 1967 movie with Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier, this adaptation starred Carroll O'Connor (in his first post-Archie Bunker role) as a white Mississippi police chief working with his new black chief of detectives (Howard Rollins).

Law & Order (Sunday noon- Monday 1 a.m., Tuesday 3 p.m.- Wednesday 1 a.m., Wednesday 3 p.m.-Thursday 1 a.m., WeTV; Sunday 5:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., Thursday 1 p.m.- Friday 2 a.m., Friday 1 p.m.- Saturday 2 a.m., Sundance)

1990-2010

Dick Wolf's franchise began 30 years ago with this cop/lawyer drama.

Magnum, P.I. (3-4 pm., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

1980-88

Tom Selleck's breakthrough role, the laid-back, Oahu-based private detective, was also one of TV's first Vietnam veteran characters, as were his two buddies T.C. (Roger E. Mosley) and Rick (Larry Manetti).

Mannix (2-3 a.m., MeTV)

1967-75

Mike Connors starred as iconoclastic L.A. private eye Joe Mannix in a series that was criticized for its violence. Fun fact: Robert Reed had a recurring role as one of Mannix's LAPD contacts at the same time he was playing Mike Brady on "The Brady Bunch."

Matlock (10-11 a.m., MeTV) (Amazon)

1986-95

Two decades after he left Mayberry, Andy Griffith returned to the South — Atlanta — playing folksy, Harvard-educated criminal-defense attorney Ben Matlock.

Murder, She Wrote (8-9 a.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.-noon, Cozi; 11 p.m.-3 a.m., Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)

1984-96

Angela Lansbury's first TV-series role was widowed mystery-writer Jessica Fletcher, who spent most of her time as an amateur detective solving real-life murder mysteries. Fun fact: In 1986, Jessica traveled to Hawaii to appear in a crossover episode with "Magnum, P.I."

Nash Bridges (Monday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., H&I) (CBS All Access)

1996-2001

"Miami Vice" star Don Johnson was back on the job, this time as the title character, an inspector with the San Francisco Police Department's elite Special Investigations Unit. He was partnered with Joe Dominguez, played by stoner comedian Cheech Marin.

NYPD Blue (1-6 a.m., H&I) (Hulu, Amazon)

1993-2005

Steven Bochco and David Milch's groundbreaking drama featured sex and language never-before-seen on network TV, along with one of the tube's most indelible characters, the world-weary, trouble-plagued Det. Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz).

Perry Mason (11:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., 9-10 a.m., MeTV)

1957-66

Raymond Burr brought Erle Stanley Gardner's defense lawyer to life.

Peter Gunn (Monday 4-5 a.m., MeTV) 

 1958-61

Craig Stevens starred as the titular suave private eye, but the real star of this show was Henry Mancini's cool jazz score, including the memorable theme song.

Police Story (Saturday 2-5 a.m., H&I)

1973-77; 1988-89

This extremely realistic anthology from former LAPD cop-turned-best selling novelist Joseph Wambaugh had a recurring cast of characters including Tony LoBianco and ex-NFL star Don Meredith. Fun fact: Angie Dickinson's "Police Woman" was spun off from this show

Starsky and Hutch (Saturday, Noon-2 p.m., Cozi) (Crackle, YouTube, Amazon)

1975-79

With tires on their red Ford Gran Torino screeching, the cop team of David Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Kenneth "Hutch" Hutchinson (David Soul)   preserved law and order in the fictional locale of Bay City, California.

Walker, Texas Ranger 

1993-2001 (11 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 5-9 p.m., GetTV)

Martial-arts maven Chuck Norris brought his chops, acting and otherwise, to prime-time as unconventional Dallas-based Texas Ranger Cordell Walker.

WHERE TO WATCH

Optimum

Cozi 109

GetTV 143

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 193

H&I 140

MeTV 33

Start TV 112

Sundance 192

WeTV 42

WGN America 82

FiOS

Cozi 460

Hallmark Movies & Mysteries 239

MeTV 3

Sundance 235

WeTV 149

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