Just after learning that CSI is one of the ten worst programs according to the Parents Television Council, I watched an episode in which the crime involved members of a Sherlock Holmes Club (January 6, 2005). I'm beginning to worry that the only way most people under the age of thirty will ever hear of classic literature is when an eccentric character on television mentions it. If that's the case, might it make sense for so-called traditional people, among whom I guess I should include the mavens of the Parents Television Council, to give a pat on the back to the programs that do it. Does letting people know that there's a fictional detective named Sherlock Holmes justify removing a program from the bottom ten list? I can't be sure, especially since last night CSI didn't really give us much of the Holmesian character, although, I guess, Grissom did occasionally get a slight Sherlock-like gleam in his eye. And, I was glad to see that.

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The new personnel arrangement on CSI seemed to have been adopted so that we can have an increased number of cases each week. Last night (December 2, 2004), we had four deaths that had to be sorted out. Two of them turned out to be pure murders, one was a kind of accidental murder, and the fourth, a real accident, which had been portrayed up to the moment of revelation as the most heinous murder of all. The resultant flicking back and forth among CSI teams might be thought to enhance the excitement of the action, but the truth is, it makes it boring. One's emotional response -- if there is any -- is chopped up into so many bits none of them have any genuine force. You find yourself sitting there saying, "Why wouldn't I be better off in bed?" I don't think that a question the producers want us to be asking.

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Gil Grissom and his team on CSI are in danger from a bullying bureaucrat. As the episode ended last night (November 25, 2004), the group was facing up to the prospect of being broken up and spread out among the other parts of the police force. The bully didn't find anything he could put his finger on, but he claims not to like the way Grissom has been managing his team -- too loose, too unorthodox, too much in favor of supporting the truth over the prosecutors. I guess we have to wait till next week to find out whether this assault will be successful. In the meantime, if you study your newspapers carefully you may find reports on abusive authority in the workplace. There was an extensive article about it in this morning's Boston Globe by Etelka Lehoesky. Anybody who has worked in a large organization knows that most places are rife with petty tyranny. It's not the sort of thing that can take your life, but it can certainly make your life miserable. It's good when TV entertainment draws attention to behavior of this kind. Despite Ms. Lehoesky's efforts, we can't generally depend on the mainstream media to unmask it.

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I've though about this for a long time and haven't come to a conclusion easily. But, I've now become convinced that the most ridiculous character on any TV network  series is Horatio Caine of C.S.I. Miami. He can't open his mouth without sounding like the Oracle at Delphi. It doesn't matter what he says, the manner of saying it reminds you of the Director of Everywhere Security in a bad Steven Segal movie. Last night (May 3, 2004), for example, we had "Nope, I mean murder" -- followed by deep-beat rock music -- "I need a cause of death as soon as you know, Alex," and my favorite, "I'll tell you, Jeff, it's something now," speaking to the neighbor of a dead man who had said his squabble with the victim was nothing. After each of these pronouncements, a look comes on actor David Caruso's face which tells all within hearing that they're supposed to collapse on their knees in either terror or abject admiration. Who's responsible for this? Does Caruso impose it on himself or is it forced on him by direction?  In either case, the result is so wildly comic that giving even moderate attention to the plot becomes impossible. One sits in anticipation waiting to see if Horatio's next proclamation will be even more pretentious than the last one. Given the plots the producers manage to dredge up, maybe that's the point.

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©John R. Turner

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