There aren't many TV shows about the ins and outs of the accounting life. Crime-fighting, emergency medicine, criminal defence: these are fields that deal in life and death, they are naturally seeped in drama and they provide rich storytelling environments.

That's why scriptwriters love them and that's why we binge on the beautifully packaged versions we see on screen. But what of the people doing those jobs? Which police procedurals do cops actually like to watch?

Which courtroom dramas are accurate enough to satisfy lawyers? When they come off an exhausting shift, do doctors choose to slump in front an episode of Grey's Anatomy or The Resident?

LAWYERS

James Spader and William Shatner in Boston Legal, a favourite with lawyers. Photo / Supplied
James Spader and William Shatner in Boston Legal, a favourite with lawyers. Photo / Supplied

The general population tends to enjoy legal programmes that offer high stakes in the courtroom and OTT personal problems to be neatly dispatched in the lawyers' lushly decorated offices. But what do actual lawyers look for in a programme about their profession? Humour, smarts and accurate detail.

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Some still mourn Boston Legal, a quirky comedy starring James Spader and William Shatner, which ended 11 years ago. A critical success from producer David E Kelley (who also created the cheesetastic Ally McBeal and LA Law, Boston Legal featured an enduring bromance between the two main characters, and as much absurdity as one could reasonably fit into 44 minutes.

"People are still talking about it in the office," said one Auckland barrister. "It is so definitive and so clever." Other popular programmes in his workplace included Suits, The Good Wife, Drake, Silk and Harry's Law.

What lawyers don't appreciate is pacing, which makes it appear that their jobs are less complex than they really are. "It's outrageous how short it takes to decide a case from start to finish - like an entire case can be dealt with in an episode," said the barrister. "Normally a case would take at least a year in New Zealand."

Andrew Geddis, professor of law at the University of Otago, named Suits as one of the worst television programmes about lawyers. Why? "Mainly for the way it pretends that the law simply involves finding one magic case that solves everything, but also because it perpetuates the idea that legal success is measured by how much money you make."

"Suits was fun, but for all sorts of other things," said another lawyer, of the drama in which a university dropout joins a big New York firm and passes himself off as a qualified lawyer. "The action was so far removed from law and so unrecognisable as to make the legal background irrelevant. And it was irrelevant."

Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk (left) in Better Call Saul. Photo / Supplied
Jonathan Banks and Bob Odenkirk (left) in Better Call Saul. Photo / Supplied

Geddis also panned How to Get Away With Murder, saying: "I teach at a law school and do not think that aiding my students to cover up a murder is best pedagogical practice."

He admires the 2016 miniseries The Night Of, which he describes as "a simply terrifying insight into the criminal justice system machine and how it grinds people up" and comedy Better Call Saul "because it shows that the law has a dark and a light side to it that can battle for a person's soul".

And as an academic, he also likes Danish political drama Borgen. "People usually think law is just about people arguing in court ... it isn't, and how laws get made really matters."

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DOCTORS

George Clooney starred in ER. Photo / Supplied
George Clooney starred in ER. Photo / Supplied

A number of doctors we contacted claimed to be too busy to watch television (too busy saving lives?) or uninterested in medical programmes (perhaps too clever?) which, frankly, was not much help at all.

Dr John Bonning, president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, may have a legitimate claim to a lack of time. But he said that back when he did watch TV, he struggled with medical shows because they did not accurately reflect his life.

Greys Anatomy was panned by doctors for being 'too soapy'. Photo / Supplied
Greys Anatomy was panned by doctors for being 'too soapy'. Photo / Supplied

"I generally used to avoid any medical shows as I would always constantly critique them for the fact that they sacrificed medical reality for artistic licence. In particular, the fact that studies showed that TV shows had a 75 per cent success rate to hospital discharge following cardiac arrest when in reality this is closer to 5 to 10 per cent depending on the situation.

"I did watch a couple of episodes of ER back in the day and as an emergency doctor felt that the depiction of our speciality, or those who practised in it, as sexy was of course true."

Hugh Laurie as Dr Greg House in the television comedy House. Photo / Supplied
Hugh Laurie as Dr Greg House in the television comedy House. Photo / Supplied

Other doctors nominated 90s British medical drama Cardiac Arrest and Bodies (2004-06), with its confronting surgical scenes, as favourites. Long-running dramedy Scrubs was described as "unbelievably realistic". One doctor particularly enjoyed its depiction of a dermatologist's "walletectomy".

The doctors generally panned House for being overly complicated and Greys Anatomy for being overly soapy, and complained about "any show with too much medical detail, as they always get it wrong".

POLICE

A scene from CSI. According to one expert, the popularity of the show was a 'real problem' professionally. Photo / Supplied
A scene from CSI. According to one expert, the popularity of the show was a 'real problem' professionally. Photo / Supplied

We have all heard of the CSI effect, when those people touched by real-world crime are dismayed that cases can't be solved with a few computer keystrokes and some intense facial expressions.

For investigator Tim McKinnel, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its many iterations were "unmitigated American rubbish" dogged by bad acting, worse plots and science fiction nonsense standing in for forensic science.

Professionally, it was a real problem.

"The CSI effect emerged in courts and criminal justice systems around the world," said McKinnel. "Juries were influenced by what they had seen on CSI, and came to expect mountains of forensic evidence in cases they were sitting in judgement on."

McKinnel nominated the "powerful and brilliant" drama series When They See Us and the 90s comedy The Thin Blue Line as favourites.

The Central Park Five are at the core of a the Netflix doco series When They See Us. Photo / Netflix
The Central Park Five are at the core of a the Netflix doco series When They See Us. Photo / Netflix

When They See Us tells the true story of the Central Park Five, a group of young African-American men who were convicted of raping a white woman in New York.

"The series is difficult to watch, but skillfully lays bare how flawed criminal justice systems can be and how societal power structures and race are often instrumental in a defendant's fate, more so than evidence," says McKinnel.

"It's all the more relevant because Donald Trump agitated for the five defendants to be executed, and has refused to apologise or resile from his position, even when the actual offender was identified."

Starring Rowan Atkinson, The Thin Blue Line poked fun at the rivalry between uniformed officers and detectives in a small-town police station.

"The often silly scenes and situations in this very funny show are imbued with serious social commentary on topics like racism, sexism and socioeconomic inequality," said McKinnel. "The humour often isn't sophisticated, just the way I like it."

Grant Gerken of the NZ Police Association said he chose to watch anything but police-related programming in his down time. "I believe it's healthy to have a balance in life and not be fully immersed in the police culture 24 hours a day. Ironically, the TV shows I have watched in the past tend to portray individual police officers working 24 hours a day, hardly ever doing paperwork and often solving the major crime after they have been suspended for bending the rules. This, of course, results in their reinstatement and related fanfare."

Not only was this unrealistic, said Gerken, but true policing stories were gripping enough without the added sensationalism.

"Policing is such a fantastic career and undoubtedly there would be very few police officers past or present that wouldn't have a story capable of captivating a non-police audience," he said. "And it would be real."

WHAT THE EXPERTS WATCH

BEST COP SHOWS

When They See Us - A new Netflix dramatisation of the case of the Central Park Five, young African-American men who were wrongly convicted for raping a white woman.

The Thin Blue Line - Rowan Atkinson stars in this British sitcom written by Ben Elton about a small-town police station.

WORST COP SHOW

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Tim McKinnel calls this wildly popular forensic procedural "unmitigated American rubbish".

BEST MEDICAL SHOWS

Scrubs - This was a groundbreaking programme when it aired from 2001 to 2010, often using central character John Dorian's (Zach Braff) technicolour daydreams as a storytelling device.

Long-running dramedy Scrubs was particularly popular amongst doctors. Photo / Supplied
Long-running dramedy Scrubs was particularly popular amongst doctors. Photo / Supplied

Cardiac Arrest - Written by Jed Mercurio (who was still working as a doctor when this aired), this British drama gets the accuracy tick. Mercurio went on the write the series Bodies.

ER - Okay, in its 15 years on air, ER had its ebbs and flows, but for the work of Anthony Edwards and Noah Wyle alone, it earned its place on the list

WORST MEDICAL SHOW

House - This drama about a socially awkward doctor (Hugh Laurie) who diagnoses mystery illnesses was deemed overly complicated, with an unappealing main character.

BEST LEGAL SHOWS

The Good Wife - Juliana Margulies stars as a mother and lawyer who returns to work after her politician husband is imprisoned.

 Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife. Photo / Supplied
Julianna Margulies as Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife. Photo / Supplied

Boston Legal - William Shatner and James Spader make merry mayhem in the courtroom and drink scotch on the patio.

Better Call Saul - The prequel to Breaking Bad explains the development of ex-con artist turned criminal lawyer Saul Goodman.

WORST LEGAL SHOW

Suits - The programme that made Meghan Markle famous is more concerned with personal drama than law, and for that reason, was panned.