A police procedural is a movie, book or television show in which a (relatively) realistic depcition of the process of investigating a crime dominates the plot.

Zzzzzzzz. I know. Maybe it would be simpler to explain what a police procedural is not:

  • If any major character is a space alien, a robot, or an elderly mystery novelist who solves murder cases in her spare time, you are not watching a police procedural.
  • If, the day after the broadcast, you remember seeing Dennis Franz naked from the rear but cannot remember the details of the case he investigated, you have not watched a police procedural.
  • If the TV listing contains any combination of the words "Tony" and "Danza," you are not watching a police procedural.
  • If the plot relies so heavily on the main investigator's intuition or personality that he assumes larger-than-life, Sherlock Holmes-like status, you are not watching a police procedural -- at least not until next week's episode, when it's Chris Noth's turn.
  • If investigators use one high-tech forensic technique at the crime scene, you may be watching a police procedural. If they use 12, and three of them involve researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, you are not.

We hope this clears things up.

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