Monday, January 01, 2007

Poke out my CSI

A happy 2007 to everyone out there, but already my year is off to a troublesome start. Let me explain in my typically long-winded way:

A few years ago on New Year's Day I was prone on the couch, watching TV, when I quickly found out I was in the midst of one of those Bermuda Triangles of television: a Law & Order Marathon. I was just finishing up a third episode in a row when I made the call, perhaps in light of more moderate resolutions that year, to watch just one more episode. Little did I know that I was only halfway through my marathon that day.

It turns out that a few years after the O.J. Simpson case, with its own twists and turns, the creators of Law & Order, as they are wont to do, obviously commissioned a plot based on that reality. But just as the real O.J. trial dragged on, so did this Faux-J. episode, in the form of three, back-to-back-to-back continuations. The episode is entitled, "Showtime." When I resolved to watch a fourth and final hour, I had no idea that the Order part of the series would last a whole episode, and that the Law part went on for another two. I spent more time watching the show that day than I have classes in some weeks.

Although I wouldn't put it up there with my proudest achievements, watching 6 hours of that show was pretty awesome - and made me eager to consult A&E's schedule for another such marathon this year. But, horror of horrors, the Law & Order Marathon is nowhere in sight. What is worse: it's been replaced by a CSI: Miami marathon.

Longtime readers are likely aware of my patent disgust with the CSI shows. Indeed, I think 25 million people a week are wrong. I think the show is needlessly dazzling, pithy, Fincher-esque and wraps up too nicely - the law is none of these things. It's easy to argue that shows are meant to be entertaining, but let's be honest, justice should not be entertaining, it should be just. The true thrills to be derived from the law are, in my experience, all intellectual. When lawyers come up with a creative method of closing the case on an accused criminal, it's not done out of smug satisfaction as that show would have you believe - it's simply because that's the way we are taught to do things in law school, to think laterally. Law & Order gets this.

In fact, some of my favorite moments from recent Law & Order episodes have been subtle jabs at how CSI lets its fingerprint-dusters do everything short of hanging the perp. Just before he died, Jerry Orbach's Lenny Briscoe character famously told off such an investigator for trying to solve a case on the spot - and then made the guy go get him a coffee. And say what you will about Lenny, at least he's not named Horatio.

Anyway, I guess my point in all of this is that I'm disappointed I can't watch 7 hours of continuous television.

Update: A History Channel miracle - a Band of Brothers marathon.

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