by Kristine Coblitz
We all know that as crime writers, we need to be cautious of the crime shows on television and how they portray investigations. (Just read this book to find out why.) But I will say that I still watch these shows, particularly the original CSI series on Thursday nights because I think we can learn something from them. I pay close attention to character development and criminal motivation. I think the show does twists and turns well and depicts some rather creative criminal behavior.
With all the different crime shows available on television these days, it’s amazing to me that people are even reading mystery novels anymore. I’m thankful they are, don’t get me wrong, but I wonder if television has gone too far, crowding the market with so many crime shows that people are either becoming too desensitized to death or overloaded. Or maybe all this attention on murder and investigation is serving a good purpose, forcing people to pay attention? What do you think?
A few years ago, there was a reality television show called Murder in Small Town X, which had me totally hooked. I’m not a fan of reality television, but this one was good. Contestants were chosen to investigate a fictional crime that happened in a small town. The suspects, or townspeople, were all actors. At the end of each episode, two contestants were randomly chosen to search for the killer alone at remote locations based on clues, their actions chronicled by head-mounted cameras. One of the contestants would be confronted by the killer and “killed” off the show. It was a real nail-biter, and I loved every minute of it. The murder story and plot became more complex with every episode.
Does anyone else remember this show?
But this show had a sad ending in real life. The winner, a man named Angel L. Juarbe, Jr., a New York City firefighter, solved the crime and won the million dollar prize. A week later, he was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.
What worked about this show for me was that the writers of the show didn’t need to rely on fancy technical forensics or flashy gadgets to be entertaining. This was about ten ordinary people having to use their brains and basic sleuthing skills to solve a crime, much like how the amateur sleuths of our novels get the job done.
So, do you watch crime shows? If so, which ones? Do you learn anything from them?