Ken Tucker
September 30, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

1. Ricardo Tubbs and Sonny Crockett
Miami Vice (1984-89)
Set against a glamorously lit Florida, the crime-fighting efforts of Don Johnson’s Crockett and Philip Michael Thomas’ Tubbs were startlingly magnetic. Credit exec producers Anthony Yerkovich and Michael Mann with conceiving the tension between the bright setting and the dark plots. That pounding Jan Hammer theme music also helped implant Vice in our skulls, as did this duo’s pastel-hued chemistry.

2. Lennie Briscoe and Mike Logan
Law & Order (1992-95)
There have been so many rotating pairs of policemen on L&O that you may have a different fave duo. But for me, Chris Noth’s Logan brought a hotheadedness that contrasted perfectly with the way Jerry Orbach’s Briscoe kept his cool wariness on high alert at all times.

3. Mary Beth Lacey and Christine Cagney
Cagney & Lacey (1981-88)
Sharon Gless’ Cagney and Tyne Daly’s Lacey defied the odds by being a feminist cop duo, winning over both women and men and becoming a mass-appeal hit. The balance between work and personal life was impeccable, and the banter between the partners always came across as strong friendship.

4. Joe Friday and Frank Smith
Dragnet (1952-59)
Friday (Jack Webb) and Smith (Ben Alexander) were the pioneers of hard-boiled-cop TV. Friday’s ”Just the facts” mantra showed the series’ seriousness, and producer Webb kept the stories crisp and compelling.

5. Ken Hutchinson and Dave Starsky
Starsky & Hutch (1975-79)
Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Hutch (David Soul) were California cops who rammed through the late 1970s with the force and speed of Starsky’s Ford Gran Torino. Two pals never afraid to rough up a perp, Starsky and Hutch were the opposite of Dragnet’s cops — flamboyant, flinty risk-takers.

Best of the Rest
Adam-12 (1968-75)
Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and Jim Reed (Kent McCord)

Hunter (1984-91)
Rick Hunter (Fred Dryer) and Dee Dee McCall (Stepfanie Kramer)

Homicide: Life on the Streets (1993-98)
Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher) and Tim Bayliss (Kyle Secor)

Life (2007-09)
Dani Reese (Sarah Shahi) and Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis)

Southland (2009-Present)
Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) and John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz)

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