evannichols (evannichols) wrote,

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There Really Should Be CSI: Camden, NJ.

I can admit this to you: I like the CSI shows. I do know that they depict a skewed view of a CSI's role; on TV they do a lot of what the Homicide detectives and civilian lab techs would actually do. And the lab results are miraculously fast, easily interpreted and accurate. And the characters explain things to each other about the science that any qualified CSI would already know. And the director's notes for David Caruso on CSI: Miami are always "Okay, for this scene, tilt your head to the side so it's almost horizontal, and be terse but sincere." I think the writing and character dynamics are best on the original CSI show; the Miami one is okay, and the New York one is getting by on the CSI franchise, kind of like Coke with Lime.

Anyway, I was thinking about TV vs. Reality, and did some research. In one season of the show, the Las Vegas CSIs investigate about 55 deaths (figuring there's usually two per episode, sometimes more (I didn't go through the episode guides and count)) in 24 episodes. Not all turn out to be murders, some are accidents and others natural causes (but those always LOOK suspicious at first, just as the ones which initially appear to be accidents or suicides turn out to be murders).

Las Vegas has a population of 534,847 (US Census, 2004). And at a rate of 10.6 homicides per 100,000 people (FBI stats), that's about 57 actual homicides in a year. So if we believe the show, almost EVERY homicide in Las Vegas is solved by the brilliant scientific analysis of the CSI techs! Oh, sure, there's a few that we don't see. Like when a fight starts in a bar and someone gets shot in front of twenty witnesses. It doesn't take a Sherlock to figure those out.

I've gotten DVDs from the library, to see if there were earlier episodes that I missed. In watching a bunch of episodes in close proximity, I noticed that the stories have a mix of serial killers, murders for money (whether inheritance, insurance fraud or theft), and crimes of opportunity. But a lot, and I mean A LOT, of the homicides end up being someone who did something stupid and somebody died from it. There's a bunch of "I just meant to scare him" or "There was an accident, and I hoped I could cover it up" or "I thought she wronged me, but it was a misunderstanding" or "We got in a fight and I punched him, what do you mean he died hours later?"

I'm sure it's partly done to keep the stories from being too repetitive, but it seems like every time someone engages in pranks, petty retribution, or any other slightly unacceptable behavior, they end up killing someone. Is this some sort of dire warning from the writers, telling us to behave? Are we to worry that if we step out of line in the slightest, there will be horrible consequences? I don't watch any of the other police/investigative shows on now, are they like this too, or is this just a CSI thing?

If I ever go to Vegas, I'm going to behave myself. I'll just drink and gamble, so nobody gets hurt.


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