There was a slew of private eye, detective style shows in the 80’s. It was that era’s CSI. Today it is all about the crime scene investigation. In the 80’s, it was all about the men and women that worked behind the scenes to track down missing people, find out who murdered whom and do whatever other dirty jobs that were required.
One of my favorites was Simon & Simon, all about two brothers who ran a detective agency, sometimes with the help of their cute old mother, played by Mary Carver. The show was somewhat styled after The Odd Couple, in that the brothers, here A. J. played by Jameson Parker, and Rick played by Gerald McRaney, were completely different types of people.
J. was the slick, younger component of the duo. He went to college, he is more handsome, a better dresser and smoother with the ladies. A. J. was more patient as well, taking his time and talking to people, where as Rick was more likely to smash through a door or punch someone to get information.
But then Rick was ex-military and his training to kick some butt would come to the forefront more often than not. He couldn’t help it. He was a Marine. He was gritty, with street smarts that were often at odds with A. J.’s more studious nature.
They needed this dichotomy for contrast. You can’t have two brothers, or characters for that matter, that are exactly the same. It doesn’t work. And even if it is a bit of a TV cliché to have them be so different, that is what has to happen so the stories have not only that contrast but conflict and depth. Writers choose these archetypes because they are effective at showing two sides to a particular story, two different viewpoints or two different ways to go about solving problems.
And at Rick and A. J.’s detective agency, they were all about solving problems for their clients. There was plenty of action on the show as well, it was never boring, and lasted for an impressive 8 seasons and 156 episodes.