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Crime and Punishment

by Neena Louise

I find it interesting that there is a sudden explosion of crime-and-punishment television shows. Though this has always a popular genre, just how many "person-gets-wronged-bad-guy-gets-caught" shows can one stand? This season there are at least nine (!) new crime-related shows on network and cable television. Though most of them are decent enough, it will be interesting to see how many can stay fresh enough to survive the season.

My prediction of first-axed: Thieves. What a piece of fluffy drivel! Hot bods and cool gadgets does not a hit make, as is witnessed by this stupid and crass show with its shrieking characters and gratuitous sex. Ick, poo.

Alias has one of the most absurd - not to mention confusing - premises I've ever seen. Is she a good guy? A bad guy? Well, who cares? There's enough action and jiggle to keep one's interest. (Kudos to the network for running the pilot episode without commercial breaks.) Time will tell if this survives, but with several covert-operations shows on the market (UC: Undercover and The Agency, for example), it will be interesting to see how many make it to next season.

So far, Crossing Jordan shows the most promise. Though riding the coattails of CSI's success, the outstanding cast can probably save the lame storylines and silly dialogue (sample: Jordan's seriously intoned, "I'll find whoever did this to you" to a corpse. Oh, puh-leeze).

The third incarnation of Law and Order: Criminal Intent is supposedly from "the criminal's point of view," but I didn't see much difference from the first Law and Order: bad guys do crime; bad guys get nabbed. The only difference is there is no "order" part (no courtroom scenes). I think it's time for Law and Order to stop trying to clone itself...the originating series is one of the best and most enduring shows on television and it should be left well enough alone.

Let us not forget the court shows: 100 Center Street, Philly, The Guardian, Family Law, The Practice, etc. Enough already! The Practice's season premiere episode was a total yawn (and the few episodes that have run since are as scintillating as watching paint dry); Philly is just plain stupid with a totally unbelievably mouthy lead character; The Guardian has an equally offensive lead character; 100 Center Street still hasn't found its way... It's a well-known fact that most people despise lawyers, so what's up with this trend? One can only take so many rich lawyers pretending to be champions for poor accused criminals.

This season, it seems you can watch crime, court, covert-operation, and cop shows every night, all week long. Is this a good thing? These shows are entertaining and have enough good elements to hold one's interest, but with little else to choose from (other than blue-rinse crowd faves like Touched by an Angel and aging sitcoms like Spin City and Drew Carey), are we simply so eager for something new that they appear to be good? Escapism is more important now than ever before and I, for one, can only take so many exploitive "ripped from the headlines" shows. They're entertaining, sure, but we need to laugh and flee the seriousness of today's world. 
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