Murder in the First



Decent police procedural has violence, slow-burn plot.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Crime is not glamorized, nor are criminals. Justice is the aim of the characters.

Positive role models

The two main characters are intrepid cops and on the side of law and order. Unfortunately, this message is sometimes subverted when the officers bend the law to work a case. Characters are racially diverse, and women are portrayed in positions of power.


Viewers will see dead bodies, some with blood and gore and some naked. Characters often are in danger. A man slaps a woman and threatens to fire her.


Some murder victims appear nude, though sensitive parts are hidden.


Curses are used as exclamations ("I could give a s--t") or as insults. There's additional rough language, such as when an officer says a drink "tastes like piss."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drugs may be mentioned in the context of criminal investigations.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Murder in the First is a police procedural that focuses on a single murder case each season. This show isn't as violent as many murder-investigation series, but viewers can expect to see dead bodies with blood and gore and nude female corpses (no private parts are shown). Guns are frequently shown and fired. Main characters as well as other characters we've gotten to know may die suddenly and often are in physical jeopardy. There is unbleeped cursing, including four-letter words and vulgar insults. There is other rough language referring to body parts, bodily fluids, and sex. Younger viewers likely also will be turned off by the slow and intricate pace of the show, in which an investigation unfolds gradually.

What's the story?

Created by Emmy-winning writer/producer Steven Bochco and newcomer Eric Lodal, MURDER IN THE FIRST is a police procedural set in San Francisco that each season tackles a different complex murder case. Intrepid homicide detectives Terry English (Taye Diggs) and Hildy Mulligan (Kathleen Robertson) get more than they bargained for when they begin unraveling a murder case with multiple bodies and a trail of clues that leads to Silicon Valley whiz kid Erich Blunt (Tom Felton). The case is twisty, and it seems like everyone has something to hide. And even as Terry and Hildy painstakingly untangle it, their difficult personal lives get in the way. Terry has a wife at home dying of cancer; Hildy is a divorced mom with a lovable, if headstrong, young daughter. It's a lot to manage, but, slowly, surely, Terry and Hildy build their case, week by week.

Is it any good?


Another police procedural? Really? Yes, we're sick of them, too. But before you change that channel, you should know that this show's put together by one of the all-time greats: Steven Bochco was writing cop shows long before Law & Order was even a twinkle in (producer) Dick Wolf's eye. So the action here is both meaty and mostly realistic, if the twists and turns in the main characters' personal lives are a bit soapy.

The show's focus on a single murder case is a gimmick we've seen pop up in many shows of late; The Killing and Top of the Lake spring to mind. But since this is the way actual police officers tend to work-- painfully slowly -- it lends the series a lot more authenticity than a case-of-the-week show wherein everything's wrapped up in an hour. We see things unfold, and we have time to get to know the characters rather than racing through plot. It'll be tough for Murder in the First to make an impression in a landscape littered with similar shows, but it's worth a try, particularly for viewers who can't get enough crime and punishment.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how realistic Murder in the First is. Do the police officers look like police officers you've seen? Do the crimes seem like TV plot devices or like crimes that could really happen?

  • One of the creators of Murder in the First is producer/writer Steven Bochco, known for creating such shows as L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues, and NYPD Blue. How is this show like these others? How is it different?

  • San Francisco's rents are steep -- about $3,000 a month for a very small two-bedroom apartment. With that said, how much do you think the residences Terry and Hildy live in would cost monthly? How much would they have to make a year to afford them?

TV details

Cast:Taye Diggs, Kathleen Robertson, Tom Felton
TV rating:NR

This review of Murder in the First was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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