This one’s for you, Judi.
5. Developed Characters
Part of the intrigue of a police procedural is that you don’t have to know much about the main characters to understand the program. There is a body or a crime and generic law enforcement/legal types spend 48 minutes figuring out whodunit. It is not that complicated. But on Crossing Jordan, we get the body of the week AND characters whose lives are investable. Because the show focuses on the office of the Medical Examiner, we get a refreshing blend of atypical intellectuals. The fat kid from Stand by Me plays the main detective, and he’s noticeably mocked much of the time. And then there’s the staff at the morgue: Nigel. Bug. Lily. Dr. Macy. Eventually you will care deeply about these people, whose lives are actually somewhat interesting, because the writers took some care to make them complex.
4. Not a Serious Undertaking
Anymore, very few shows offer viewers a casual relationship. You can’t just watch a few episodes of Stranger Things or Breaking Bad and then move on with your life. You watch the first episode and then COMMIT YEARS OF YOUR LIFE to completing the series. Crossing Jordan isn’t like that. It is the kind of show that you can watch an episode or two between other commitments. While there is an investment in characters, there aren’t very many story lines that you will feel compelled to see played out season after season. You can watch an episode, appreciate it for what it is, and walk away. Watch it off and on. Be free!
3. “There’s No Place Like Home, II”
I might have to go back and watch this episode, but I remember LOVING it. There’s a wannabe medical examiner who attempts the perfect murder (murders?) and almost gets away with it, if not for the cunning of one Jordan Cavanaugh. There is a super cool reveal when they discover how he killed the person and also each of his crimes/clues are Wizard of Oz related. Also, Henry Winkler stars as the jerk head medical examiner in this episode, and is actually pretty convincing. It is easily one of his most respectable television roles, a rare occasion where he is not just playing a caricature of himself or providing a cameo. Also, I guess Woody got shot.
2. Kathryn Hahn
I feel like I don’t have to say any more than that. I love Kathryn Hahn, and this is probably the first time I ever really saw her in anything. Her role is much different than the comedic roles she plays now, and as a result, I can appreciate her on another level, because she plays a very sensitive, kind naïve young girl in this show. As in, when I see her in a funny role (Anchorman, Our Idiot Brother, HBO Girls, Parks and Recreation, Step Brothers, Bad Moms, Bad Words, I Love Dick, etc. etc. etc.) I also think, “huh. Would you look at that!? The grief counselor is hilarious.”
1. Females are Strong as Hell
It is more common now, but when this show came out (2001, I was a junior in high school) there weren’t very many shows that starred intelligent, attractive women who were not traditionally feminine, were great at their jobs and also kind of awesome. Sure I had Darlene Conner and Daria, but they were so morose; like because they didn’t fit adhere to gender norms, angst and depressive tendencies befell them. I don’t think I realized at the time, but what really attached me to the show, was Jordan Cavanaugh, played by the incomparable Jill Hennessey.She was smart, very competent, and a wild card. She wore sort of cool leather jackets and had issues with authority. She drank and played guitar. She also went rogue EVERY episode and solved the shit out of some crimes. She had a strong moral compass. As such, I did, and still do, appreciate the novelty that was a complex, strong female lead on early 2000’s network television. Also, the show regularly featured female doctors/medical examiners, female detectives, a female DA, and also a female serial killer, which was an amazing episode.