01/17/2012 09:27 am ET

'Southland' Has Still Got It: How To Build A Detective Show

"Southland" is one of those show that always delivers, both as a strong police procedural and a compelling character drama. With the show's return (Season 4 premieres Tues., Jan. 17, 10 p.m. EST on TNT), we thought we'd take a look at why it's so addictive.

Of course the characters are always at the heart of this show -- when the new season kicks off, Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) is back after some rehab and joined by a new partner; Officer Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) is no longer the "boot"; Det. Sammy Bryant (Shawn Hatosy) is moving on after the death of his partner and the birth of his baby; and Det. Lydia Adams (Regina King) continues to let her work and personal life intersect. But there's more to a good TV series than just compelling characters.

When you break them down, all of the best TV detective shows have some similarities that help make them a success. Here are seven elements to build a detective show that all-time favorites, like "The Shield," "The Wire," "Law & Order," "CSI" and "Southland," have mastered.

How To Build A Detective Show