overthinking the idiot box

December 6, 2005

In the world of television, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the writers and producers of hour-long crime dramas, and the viewers, who watch said dramas. These are their stories.

Be Careful Out There
10 Cop Show Facts, Moments, People or Events

(AKA "Annie Squeals Over Ben Browder Again")
by Andreanna Ditton

Okay, so while I promised Liz I wouldn't do this, clearly I lied. Arrest me. Ha ha. Ha ha ha. That's a little cop beat humor disguised by hysterical laughter. But even the most vigilant columnist deserves a Top Ten List, and in honor of being in the midst of the holiday season, I offer up 10 Cop Show facts, moments, people or events that I am thankful for, entirely unresearched and straight to your computer screen. Thank god we've got copy editors or nothing in this article would be spelled right!

  1. I refuse to thank you for Criminal Minds or Killer Instinct because I actually did watch Killer Instinct and there was a snake inside a body and pretty much let me find the limit of what I'll do to cover my beat. Live snakes in dead bodies was definitely a line in the sand.
    Red Foreman making Fox Mulder just a little bit crazier. Okay, okay, so Kurtwood Smith wasn't actually playing Red at the time, he was playing Mulder's hard-ass mentor Bill Patterson and he killed pretty young boys and Mulder figured it out and it was angtsy and fabulous and lead to tons and tons of fanfic where Mulder cried, and Patterson spied, and Scully was stoic and heroic. Dude, I liked it so much I've been inspired to rhyme. So thank you Fox Mulder and Chris Carter for making certain that the tortured, pretty profiler would never go out of style. I refuse to thank you for Criminal Minds or Killer Instinct because I actually did watch Killer Instinct and there was a snake inside a body and pretty much let me find the limit of what I'll do to cover my beat. Live snakes in dead bodies was definitely a line in the sand.

  2. Ice-T and his oh so sharp suits and his cool name. You can keep your balding, testosterone heavy Elliot Stablers. I'll take Fin' Tutuola any day. He's a deadbeat dad and a former vice cop and more importantly he and Munch are clearly dating and anyone who loves Munch is okay by me.

  3. Roll call on the hill. Because every time Sgt. Esterhaus told them to be careful out there, you knew he meant it. It became a benediction, a prayer and a promise and a catch phrase for all of us (not to mention this column). Of course, there's a lot to be thankful for about Hill Street Blues, including gritty storytelling, season long arcs, and Lucy Bates' crush on her partner, because Lucy wasn't a beautiful girl and she was a good cop, and this embarrassing oh-so-human emotion tied into this girl struggling to be a beat cop in love with this big dumb palooka of a guy was just heartbreaking.

  4. Bones for beating the odds and getting better as the season progresses and making Anthropologists look both as dorky and as cool as they really are and for allowing me to retain hope that someone, some where will say, "Australopithicus Afarensis" on TV and mean it!! Also, it gave David Boreanaz work and I find I'm enjoying that more than I thought I would.

  5. Grissom and the pig carcass. Because it was ultra gross, but it was also realistic and as accurate as any of the science that CSI doles out and because I have a great big crush on Grissom from when William Peterson played the hero in Manhunter. Using the decaying pig carcass to establish time of death for a body is an acceptable practice in forensic science, and that was just cool! I watch CSI almost entirely for Grissom, and for Warrick's hair, but mostly for Grissom.

  6. Mrs. Andreanna Browder?
    Mr. and Mrs. Browder-Ditton?

    Ms. Andreanna Ditton-Browder!
    CSI: Miami for giving Ben Browder work, even if it was just one episode. This shouldn't rate as highly as it does because the episode was terrible, but I love Ainsleigh Hayes or whomever it is that Emily Procter plays and I love Ben Browder even more and he got to be sweet and the bad guy and look pretty and manly in blue jeans and make the rest of them look like they were trying too hard and it was still a terrible episode with the world's most revolting foley when that girl's esophagus fried as she inhaled smoke and fire, like flesh crackling and adhering to steel but you know what? I'll forgive a lot for employment of favored actors and there's gotta be some justification for this version of CSI to continue hanging around other than employing that guy who used to be on Roswell.

  7. Crockett and Tubbs and Elvis the alligator because my cousin and I spent an exhilarating Christmas season leaping around corners with hairdryers shouting, "Freeze, Miami Mice!" I know that there were cop shows before this that had a stylized look and feel, but I was too young for most of them and Miami Vice debuted at the height of '80's fashion and Don Johnson made pink acceptable for men. I'm probably the only one thankful for that because really unless you were a vice cop with a boat and an alligator and an address in Miami, pink was probably a bad choice in the '80's but I applaud all those who took the fashion risk anyway. Actually, I'm really thankful for Edward James Olmos who defined the term hard-ass and because despite the sockless loafers and the slick style, this was a good show about an ugly job and Michael Mann really found his niche with it. But re-establishing Don Johnson as a pop singer? Michael Mann you get no love for that!

  8. Stunt casting. The X-Files favored it, and the Law and Order franchise practically beats off to it. If you've been on the big screen, you've played a psychopath on an L&O show. That girl from A Knight's Tale got to be hysterical and amoral. Marsha Gay Harden got to be both a racist and an FBI agent. Eric Stoltz got to be a pedophile and so did Matthew Modine and really anyone else who's asked. Yeah it's a gimmick, but it usually boosts careers, shepherds in good performances and gives me something to pay attention to aside from the idea if this many kids are abused in the city of New York, it's a wonder they're not all raving psychos.

  9. That Rob Morrow got hot, and Vincent D'Onofrio needs to feed his kids and that Mandy Patinkin will hopefully get work that isn't Criminal Minds because dude, he's like your creepy Jewish drunkle in that show which is bad enough, and exploitive enough on it's own. That Chris Meloni took his shirt off and that Mr. Big returned to his roots, although Chris Noth isn't aging as well as I'd hoped he would. The cop show: it's all about the beefcake.

  10. Really, for all of Homicide: Life on the Street, but largely the Adena arc because I started reading David Simon's Homicide before I watched the series and it broke me that they never solved this case, and it broke me again to watch it unfold, to watch Bayliss and Pembleton and know that no matter what they did, they'd never find out who killed that little girl and that the lack would rob them both of something. And for Ned Beatty getting some, and for Richard Belzer because I do love Munch. I really, really do.

Finally, a special thank you to Liz. Since I started OD'ing on cop shows, I'm now afraid to leave the house, talk to strangers, take candy from men I don't know, go to New York, or eat pork. This beat's been a blessing, Liz. Really it has!

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