Starring Tom Bosley, Tracy Nelson, James Stephens, and Mary Wickes, this show got its start as a TV movie in 1987. It became a series in 1989 and ran until 1991, during the course of which it switched from NBC to ABC for its final two seasons. Set in Chicago, Illinois, it involved the main characters, Father Francis "Frank" Dowling and Sister Stephanie "Steve" Oskowski, stumbling across murders and other such crimes, and solving them. Father Dowling has an assistant, Father Prestwick, who often finds himself filling in for Father Dowling in church matters when the latter is out investigating.
The series also had 3 appearances by Father Dowling's identical twin brother (also played by Bosley), who was a con artist who caused trouble.
- Action Girl: Sister Steve
- Amateur Sleuth
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Father Dowling's original Friend on the Force was his nephew, Lietenant Phil Keegan. Keegan was the son of the priest's deceased sister (and not Father's Dowling's Evil Twin Blain). Unfortunately for Lietenant Keegan, he suffers a fatal case fo Chuck Cunningham Syndrome right after the pilot, and is never seen or referred to again. Coincidentally, Tom Bosley, who played Father Dowling, also played Chuck Cunnigham's father on Happy Days.
- Delinquents: Sister Steve was one of these before she became a nun, hence her street smarts. Both her brothers also have histories.
- Deadpan Snarker: Marie Murkin, the housekeeper.
- Deal with the Devil: "The Devil And the Deep Blue Sea Mystery" was essentially a remake of The Devil and Daniel Webster, with Sister Stevie making the deal to save her brother's life and Father Dowling defending her soul against a Jury of the Damned.
- The Exotic Detective
- Evil Twin: Blaine Dowling
- Fixing the Game: In one episode, Sister Stevie rigs an electromagnet to allow Father Dowling to win at roulette. Unbeknownst to him, the device breaks, but he nonetheless goes on a winning streak. Later, Sister Stevie asks what happened, and he blithely states that he lost his initial stake.
- Friend on the Force: In the TV movie, Phil Keegan. In the television series, primarily Sergeant Clancey, but occasionally Lieutenant Foster.
- Hollywood Nuns: Sister Steve fits the visual criteria on occasion. Mostly a subversion, however.
- Lampshaded in "The Hard-Boiled Mystery", where the victim is a writer friend of Father Dowling's who based his novel on one of the Father's cases. The Sister Steve Expy is a prim, humorless woman who faints at the sight of blood.Sister Stevie: Talk about a wimp in a wimple.
- Lampshaded in "The Hard-Boiled Mystery", where the victim is a writer friend of Father Dowling's who based his novel on one of the Father's cases. The Sister Steve Expy is a prim, humorless woman who faints at the sight of blood.
- Nice Hat: Father Dowling's fedora.
- Platonic Life-Partners: Steve and Frank.
- Pretty in Mink: When investing a crime scene in a house, there is a lynx coat around. Stephanie can't resist trying it on just once.
- Sherlock Holmes: His spirit assisted Frank in one episode. Or he was hallucinating...
- Something Only They Would Say: Blaine tries to trick the police into arresting Frank, the two dressed alike. Steve asks Frank about what a person told him in confession. Frank says he can't tell her that and Steve announces to the cops this is the real Frank as only a true priest would go to jail rather than break the sanctity of confession.
- Unassuming Old Priest Investigates: The High Concept driving the show.