Thursday, July 16, 2009

CSI and Inconsistent Realities

I love sci-fi; I do. I consider myself to be a sci-fi dork, though not as much as I used to be. Because of this dorkdom I am willing to deeply suspend my disbelief. There might be no sound in space, but all six Star Wars movies would never lead you to believe that. The Federation of Planets consists of hundreds of planets and species yet still heavily depends on Earth's history and its philosophical teachings - including the notion of human rights- and this is generally accepted by all members (with the possible exception of Klingons. Haha, see, still a dork!) If you take time to think about those facts could spoil your viewing pleasure but the themes are consistent throughout the movies and tv series so they are easy to accept. Again, I am extremely willing to suspend disbelief - but only as long as the movie or play or even book is consistent with the reality they are creating. (Foxy by Nature agrees; ask her about Terminator if you want her opinion on the matter.)

Last night Iwas watching CSI: NY. I'm not sure if I necessarily like any of the CSI shows but I have a problems with series that you have follow each week or you lose track of what's going on, so CSI satisfies my inability to focus. Anyway, last night someone found a skeleton, with a real skull!, on a tourist bus and the team began to investigate. Apparently the skull has heavy traces of diesel exhaust embedded in the bone tissue and the individual had died at least ten years ago. ( Those guys and gals are amazing with their deductions.) This took them to a huge bus station where they found the guy who created the tourist trick (he didn't kill anyone, just wanted to scare some tourists!) and after some searching found the remaining skeleton and the dead person's belongings (backpack, pocketknife) in some dark, deep partially-hidden room-like thing. Luckily, everything was intact.

Wait a minute - you mean at least one person had found this skeleton - they took the skull, after all - yet didn't even look through the backpack or steal the knife? In New York City? Okay, okay, whatever - back to the lab.

In his jeans they found a dirty, indecipherable piece of paper, but in the the backpack they found a book (Big City, Bright Lights) and a sketch book filled with myriad drawings of New York City, all perfectly clean and easy-to-read.

Wait a minute - this dude's skeleton had ten-years' worth of diesel embedded in bone tissue and a piece of paper in his pocket was filthy with all text wiped away to the point of incomprehension, but the canvas of his backpack somehow shielded two books from the polluting effects of diesel exhaust? Maybe that's why no one ever ruffled through it - the bag was impervious to all kinds of filth. But, okay, whatever.

Because the dead boy (they figured out sex and possible age - 17 - from the skeleton) was a John Doe, one of the scientists took the skull and, using clay and paint, reconstructed what his face might have looked like - just like they did on Reading Rainbow with mummies! Amazingly, the reconstruction looked exactly like the actor playing the dead boy but still left me with some questions: how would she know to give him thick, full lips with a pronounced cupid's bow on the top lip? How did she know he wasn't fat? Why would she give him wavy shoulder-length hair swept back from his forehead? None of her Caucasian male counterparts have hair like that, so what was her inspiration?

Oh, whatever - this didn't bring any leads so I guess it's fine. But then a break: they finally, somehow, figure out that piece of paper from his jeans is a pawn ticket for a watch. They go to the shop - someone just picked it up, after fourteen years! It must be the person who killed the John Doe! On to inspecting the surveillance - oh no, he's hiding his face from camera! Wait, something in the shopkeeper's glasses - enhance it!

I shouted: "If they get a picture from the glasses I am never watching CSI again!" Seth was unimpressed.

Luckily for CSI they didn't, but the suspect touched something so they found him, blah, blah, blah - which brings us to my biggest beef with this show: when confronted with the evidence all suspects spontaneously admit to their crimes. Never mind the fact that these lab rats aren't detectives and much of their physical evidence is circumstantial (I also watch Law & Order), suspects just feel a need to admit to everything before they are handcuffed and carted away to jail. God forbid they should have a lawyer present or decide to wait for a trial verdict.

Wait a minute - why are the lab rats going around and questioning suspects? Why are they in the interviewing room? Why aren't they just processing evidence and giving their findings to detectives? Why do suspects say anything even though the CSI people sometimes admit, "No, we're not detectives; we're with the crime lab"? Why don't suspects then shut the door in their face? It seems none of the suspects are ever read their Miranda rights; does that mean every criminal the CSI people think they catch are actually released because their confessions weren't legally obtained? Why is the Vegas lab so goddamned dark?

Ah, okay, okay - whatever.

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