So if I was a man making this presentation

CSI Effect

Yes this was an actual presentation at an actual academic conference ATTENDED BY ME

rather than beginning my talk with the unpromising announcement “I don’t watch CSI” (which is what actually happened), I might instead select some episodes which relate to my avowed academic interest in the ‘CSI effect’. I’m sure everybody who reads this blog will know what that is but if you don’t, in summary the CSI effect is the idea that the success of CSI has not only made students desperate to become forensic scientists because they have a false idea of the glamour of the career, but that it has had the more serious consequence of giving jurors unrealistic expectations about scientific evidence. Apparently (the theory goes), prosecutors find it harder to get a conviction in cases where they don’t have DNA evidence (as is often the case), because jurors think life should be like CSI where you can narrow down hairs from every crime scene to a single criminal. Now what this dude was saying in his paper is that this effect seems to be a myth rather than an actuality – but what I thought as I watched it was that CSI is actually somewhat more self-referential in addressing this problem than all the people who are moaning on about its lack of realism (of course it’s unrealistic, it’s a TV show) ever acknowledge. And (finally getting to the point) this is one of the episodes where CSI does deal with the issue of evidential reliability. That is, they acknowledge that they don’t always have a watertight case or, necessarily, the right guy in the dock.

So, the case in question concerns this little dude

Hapless berkum

Nice but dim

who seems to be guilty as can possibly be after a random ranger type finds him hastily burying not one, but two murdered bodies in a handy stretch of desert.

Desert burial

Don't mind me

With a little help from their magic lawnmower

Magic lawnmower

Sadly it doesn't also blow bubbles out of it, as many excellent lawnmowers do

the CSIs are soon in possession of all the evidence – OR ARE THEY? Nick and Sara certainly think so, making a super-smooth presentation to Grissom

Nick Stokes and Sara Sidle smug

A job well done?

and pressuring him into asking the DA to file charges, even though he’s not yet 100% convinced about the suspect’s guilt.

Patented Petersen Pout

PPP sez... "I'm not convinced of the suspect's guilt"

Nick Stokes pout

Stokes Counter-Pout of Doubt

OF COURSE, Grissom is right (snore) and before long the kid’s evil brother makes an appearance

Evil brother

What, me?

… but it is TOO LATE, the WONKY WHEELS OF JUSTICE have been set in motion, the STUPID PUBLIC will surely convict the wrong guy (at least that’s what Gretchen from Dawson’s Creek seems to think)

Lawyer (Gretchen): A jury doesn’t understand epi–whatevers, OK? They understand a twisty tie, and blood all over Ben’s car seat.

Gretchen from Dawsons in CSI

Yes I am Pacey's badass elder sister, what of it

and before you can say ‘Patented Petersen Pout’, weedo brother has self-destructed

Killed himself

Bad times

leaving Grissom with BLOOD ON HIS HANDS. Yes, literal blood.

Grissom blood

Out, damn spot!

All very grim. (As well as fodder for DEEP AND IMPORTANT THOUGHTS about forensic evidence and the place of CSI within the justice system.)

HOWEVER! Don’t despair! There are laughs along the way (if not as many as usual)! Notably, this (which reminds me of the car door moment in this episode):

Griss: Sometimes, when I leave a crime scene where I’ve been particularly involved with a dead body, I sit in my car, and it hits me – how close I was. How heavy the body is. The texture of the body. How it feels.

Grissom dirty talk

Do I make you horny, baby?

After that Grissom’s weird and inappropriate sexualness kept playing on my mind, so that I couldn’t help reading too much into his relationship with the oddly intense Catholic priest who appears throughout the episode:

Priest on CSI

"I'm not here to tamper with your evidence"

Sexy Grissom

'You can tamper with my evidence any time'

Grossed out priest

...That's disgusting

… and I enjoyed this demonstration of expertise, harking back to Grissom’s secret fatboy past.

Sara (finding a substance on the victim’s forehead): Flour maybe?
Griss: But what kind? All-purpose? Self-rising? Pastry? [*salivates*]

Also, finally, a brief note from elsewhere. Warrick and Catherine work on the case of a girl found dead in a hotel spa (they hear the world’s most unconvincing story ever from her best friend, concerning a torn blouse), and Warrick gets the kind of look from the receptionist more usually directed at a certain Mr Stokes.

Lust for Warrick

Sheer... unbridled... LUST.

Grissom bitchface

(That’ll be why I’m not the one presenting academic papers.) (Not on CSI, at least.)

PS Many apologies for the delay to this post – got off schedule and then cos this ep was quite scarce on the laughs it took me a while to get down to writing up. I will sort my life out and be back on track for next week, I promise!