Hollywood thinks in cycles.

A few years ago, science fiction couldn’t buy a spot in primetime; now the genre thrives. New York was the favored locale for sitcoms; today it’s Los Angeles.

This fall another cyclical shift seems to be hitting its peak, this one in crime dramas. A few years ago, when it seemed as though every show carried “CSI” or “NCIS” in the title, crime was battled by an ensemble of elites.

But 2015 is the year of the pair. The male-female pair.

A handful of new series — “Blindspot” on NBC, “Limitless” on CBS, “Minority Report” and “Rosewood” on Fox — feature a twosome as the central characters.

And on “Arrow,” the formerly lone superhero Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), is being joined this year by a sidekick named Speedy (Willa Holland), the half-sister of Green Arrow’s alter ego, Oliver Queen.

They join the popular pairs from “Elementary,” “Castle” and “The Blacklist” to make it eight boy/girl teams fighting bad guys in primetime.

Unisex pairs are harder to find, at the moment confined to Thomas Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) on “Gotham.”

Given the growth of action-oriented roles for women on television, the tilt is not entirely surprising.

More surprising, perhaps, is that for a medium that in the past often pushed women into background roles, television has often embraced detective pairs of mixed gender.

Sure, they might have been the exception, not the rule. Sgt. Joe Friday always had a male partner. And of course, there were “Starsky & Hutch,” Crockett and Tubbs, “Simon and Simon” and “10 Speed and Brownshoe.”
But as far back as the 1950s, when Peter Lawford and Phyllis Coates brought Nick and Nora Charles to the little screen, mixed pairs on television have been, if not preferred, at least not unheard of.

Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg caused something of a sensation during the British-mad, mod mid-1960s as John Steed and Emma Peel of “The Avengers,” and Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) did the same with a more comic twist in “Get Smart.”

But the true breakthrough team for television came with “McMillan & Wife,” part of the “NBC Mystery Movie” anthology that also featured “Columbo” and “McCloud.”

Rock Hudson was Stuart “Mac” McMillan, an attorney and Navy veteran who became San Francisco police commissioner. Susan Saint James was his younger, somewhat dizzy wife Sally, who somehow always managed to worm her way into Mac’s cases.

All three shows in the “Mystery Movie” cycle proved popular, and all fell victim at some point to contract disputes with the stars. In the case of “McMillan & Wife,” it was Saint James who left the series in 1976, forcing Hudson to carry on alone for one dismal season of “McMillan.”

“McMillan & Wife” probably would not fly today without major retooling. Mac was forever trying to keep Sally out of harm’s way. In today’s procedural shows, the women form equal halves of the partnership — if not a little bit more.

In “Castle,” characters Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) debate who has saved whom more often. If physical combat or weapons are involved, Beckett is the capable one.

In “Minority Report” and “Limitless,” the man in the pair has a superpower, but the woman is the trained officer — and the one carrying a gun. In “The Black List” and “Elementary” the man has the superior knowledge, but the woman bears responsibility for him.

Jaimie Alexander, who plays Jane Doe in the freshman series “Blindspot,” was chosen for the role in large part for her hand-to-hand combat abilities, which she showed off previously as the Norse goddess Sif in the comic-book movie “Thor.” In her Texas high school, she started the girls wrestling team.

The buddy system

The evolution of the modern crime-fighting team:

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson: The originals. The Watson character began as merely an observer of Holmes’ near-magical deductive powers, but he developed into Holmes’s partner.

Nick and Nora Charles: The prototype of the fast-talking, wisecracking male-female team. Introduced by Dashiell Hammett in his novel “The Thin Man,” the pair became fully realized in a series of movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy.

Batman and Robin: The first notable crime-busting team to incorporate action with brainpower. Batman was introduced in comic books in 1939, Robin in 1940.

Emma Peel and John Steed: Part of the British spy craze of the 1960s, this cool-as-Bond pair came to ABC in 1965 in the series “The Avengers.” Diana Rigg (now Olenna Tyrell in “Game of Thrones”) played the stylish and slinky Mrs. Peel, the perfect counterpart to Patrick Macnee’s Steed.

Sally and Stewart “Mac” McMillan: Before Susan Saint James left the show in a contract dispute, she and Rock Hudson made for a glamorous and effective crime-fighting team.

Jennifer and Jonathan Hart: “Hart to Hart” revived the Nick and Nora concept in a more family friendly way — not counting all of those murders. The Harts, played by Stephanie Powers and Robert Wagner, were a rich married couple who solved crimes for a hobby.

Laura Holt and Remington Steele: The first that most Americans saw of Pierce Brosnan was as the title character in this blend of romantic comedy and detective series. He was a charming con man, Stephanie Zimbalist was his more business-like partner.

Maddie Hayes and David Addison: “Moonlighting” was the third and most memorable of the 1980s detective-romance shows. Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis played the sparring lovers.

Olivia Benson and Eliot Stabler: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” is a hybrid of the pair and ensemble types — or it was until 2011, when

Christopher Meloni, who played Elliot Stabler, left the show. Stabler and Olivia Benson, played by multi-Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay, were true equals as partners.

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