HBO's The Night Of is basically two familiar TV genres in one: a police procedural that overlaps with a courtroom procedural. It's far from the first to try that (Law & Order) waves hi, but the two halves got me thinking about some of the classics of each genre.

I started off with the best police procedurals of all time, making judgment calls about what exactly qualified. The Wire, for instance, has lots of cops in it and deals a lot with how they do their jobs, but it's ultimately about so much more that I put it to the side. Hill Street Blues is one of the two most influential cop shows ever made (the other ranks #5 on the final list), but was only vaguely interested in the actual mechanics of how the cops and detectives went about their business. The Shield had procedural cases every week, but the series' main area of interest was whether Vic would get away with his many crimes. Etc. I also, as I tend to do with these lists, stuck with American shows, so no Prime Suspect or any of the other greats from the other side of the ocean.

I'll do a legal drama list sometime in the near future, but in the meantime, the video embedded at the top and bottom of this post has my cop show top 5. Let the "No love for..." complaining begin!

Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at