Before I moved to Germany, I recall that there was an abundance of crime dramas on television in the US. I think we all know Law & Order and its many incarnations. The brand has recently become more diluted with melodramatic acting by Private Pyle in the version of the show that is about getting people to admit to a crime by talking to them very sternly. Since this method worked so well for my mother in getting me to admit I stole some cookies from the jar, I do not see why an abusive boyfriend would not cop to murdering his girlfriend when asked in a very terse tone.
Now Chris, after dinner there were at least a dozen brownies left in this jar and now there are only nine. You were the only one in the kitchen after dinner. Do you know anything about that?
Now Snake, it looks like Shelly was stabbed thirteen times in the neck with a knife very similar to one of your favorites and you were the only one in the trailer yesterday evening. Do you know anything about that?
Add that really disappointed tone of voice and the bastard will crack.
I loved the original Law & Order, and will be the first to admit that I enjoyed watching these new shows. However, the one about the abuse victims was a bit on the creepy side. And the one where they guilt the person into confessing would only work if every single perpetrator had the will of a pre-pubescent youth and was being interrogated by his mother. I thought that they would finally have to stop with these types of shows. After all, I would assume that a writer can only rehash the same tired idea so many times.
But that’s what marketing teams and focus group studies are for. Just as I thought that having incest victims regularly playing integral roles in a prime time crime drama was about as desperate for rubber-neck viewing as you could make it, they decided to throw in gratuitous gore, quasi-scientific techno-babble, and unnecessary and overwrought special effects to come up with CSI: X, where X represents any major US city. This was revolutionary because unlike Law & Order, this was a direct franchise. No tedious rebranding of the show or new theme necessary. It was the exact same show, just in another city.
The script was essentially a Mad-Lib as well, saving the writers a ton of time:
[SEEDY MEMBER OF SOCIETY]______________________________
[MODEL MEMBER OF SOCIETY]______________________________
[ARTICLE OF CLOTHING]__________________________________
Something about this formulaic style of television serial was eerily familiar to me. Where have we seen this before? Then Elise nailed it. If you are a child of the eighties, think of Saturday morning:
[WASHED-UP CELEBRITY]__________________________________ [GHOST/SPECTRE/APPARITION]_____________________________
[DATED EXPRESSION OF EXCLAMATION]______________________
[ARTICLE OF CLOTHING]__________________________________
Oh my god, CSI is Scooby Doo. And it is just about as intellectually demanding to watch as well. To be fair, Scooby Doo did get a bit tired after some time as well. At which point they brought in guest stars like Abbot and Costello or the Harlem Globetrotters. Even as a kid I thought this was a bit desperate (however, Don Knotts rocked on Scooby Doo). But at least the Mystery Machine was necessary to haul around a crew four kids and a great dane. I never saw more than two people in Horatio’s Hummer.
Unlike the weak spin-off that was Scrappy Doo, they at least got different actors for all of the CSIs. I praise them for making sure that the acting was consistently shitty across all versions of the show. To be fair, I can understand how someone would think that David Crusoe is a good actor. If that person had not ever heard him talk, seen him move, or ever remove a pair of sunglasses.
As a testament to the dramatic quality they wanted to put into the show, they brought in Jerry Bruckheimer. This is a general rule of thumb I use when I decide to watch a television show or film: if Jerry Bruckheimer’s name is anywhere in the credits, I stay the hell away. A bit harsh of a generalization, you say? Let us look at some of his recent contribution to modern popular culture:
- The Rock
- Con Air
- Gone in Sixty Seconds
- Pearl Harbor
If you find yourself defending any of these cinematic turds, I praise you for actually having the intellectual wherewithal to understand the word “wherewithal.”
The CSI franchise and other similar shows (lest we forget NCIS) are an insult to a person’s intellect. They are rampant assaults on a person’s taste and are the formulaic, unthinking trash that is destroying the limp remainders of modern drama by continually and repeatedly lowering society’s standards for entertainment. And if that weren’t enough, they also kick me right in my sentimental beanbag as well since the shitwizzards behind this tripe decided on Who standards to serve as the theme songs.
And yet I can not stop watching it. I don’t know what it is, but every time I travel to the UK, I find myself turning this inane swill on. And I eat it up. I have not quite put my finger on what draws me to these shows. It is like mental porn. I know I am just wasting my time, but it is fun to look at. I suppose watching it is mental masturbation. Consider the parallels:
- I feel like I shouldn’t do it.
- I do it alone in a hotel room.
- It’s awkward to admit to it in public.
- Nothing productive comes of it.
- I feel vaguely guilty afterward.
Well, CSI is coming on. It’s that one where the boxer dies in the ring, but actually they find some traces mercury in his locker… Awe fuck it. I’m going to watch Gordon Ramsay yell at someone.