TV Throwdown: Women of Cable Vs. Men of Broadcast TV

Forget about Mars and Venus, when it comes to men and women detectives on TV, women are from cable, men are from broadcast.

Networks have seen ratings soar on crime shows featuring handsome men solving crimes. Of the top 20 primetime network shows last week, almost half were crime dramas. Sure, there are always a few women on the team, but when it comes to leading the charge the boys take the point position.

Over on the cable side, the women are in the majority when it comes to fighting crime.

Holly Hunter, who stars as the hard-living self-destructive cop Grace Hanadarko, says her TNT show Saving Grace would never make it on broadcast TV.

"No. No. No. It would never fly," Hunter says emphatically about network TV's reluctance to put women in leading roles on crime dramas. "(Saving Grace) is a risky show and it really does explore the heart of a woman. You know women are interesting and cable is having that validated by the numbers of people who tune in."

The same cannot be said for broadcast TV, where men take the lead and women fill in behind. With the exception of Kathryn Morris of

Cold Case, the pickings are slim when it comes to women carrying crime shows on network television.

So just how do the women of cable compare with their network male counterparts? Here's a comparison of our favorites.

In Plain Sight's Federal Marshal Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) vs. Numb3rs FBI Agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow)

Both of these feds have their share of intrusive family issues. FBI agent Don has a brother, Charlie, who helps solve crimes, but when Don's math whiz sib sent some info to Pakistan against government orders, he lost his clearance -- until the new season started. At least he wasn't trying to ditch a drug cache like Mary's little sister Brandi. And while Don's dad may poke his nose into Don's affairs, he's not having sleazy affairs like Mary's mom Jinx, who never met a man or cocktail she didn't like.

Saving Grace's Oklahoma Det. Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter) vs. Life on Mars New York Det. Sam Tyler (Jason O'Mara)

Both these crime fighters are battling against forces beyond the natural world. Grace has this God thing going on, while Sam's been plopped down into 1973 by some unknown forces which could be a coma or divine intervention. In the pilot episode, Grace hits a man with her car, which leads to the revelation that she's got an angel named Earl meddling in her business. She's supposed to clean up her rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Grace tries to make sense of this heavenly interloper while still trying to maintain a normal life. Meanwhile, the pilot of Life on Mars has Sam hit by a car and the next thing he knows, he's wearing leisure suits and listening to Ballroom Blitz. Try making some sense out of that one. While living life in the past lane, Sam bumps into people who impacted his life in 2008, from his parents to criminals. Is he, like Grace, supposed to make things right in the universe? Perhaps.

The Closer's Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) vs. The Mentalist's California Bureau of Investigation consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker)

Both are incredibly good-looking people who use their physical charms and off-beat sense of humor to disarm people into telling them things they probably shouldn't. Their unconventional interrogation styles allow both to solve crimes outside the traditional cop shop way. They also have their quirks: He naps; she hides snacks. Each has some superior officer issues. Neither is intimidated by those in authority, much to the chagrin of their bosses. While Jane continues a flirtation with the obviously smitten senior agent Theresa Lisbon, she still blasts him for his crazy methods. Brenda actually had a previous affair with her boss, Assistant Police Chief Will Pope, which has made for some awkward moments between them.