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Bloody Heck - Broadcasting & Cable

Bloody Heck

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I know, I know, with a name like Criminal Minds, it's not going to be about puppies and ice cream socials, but this is getting unrelentingly ridiculous.

This show seemed to be trying to out-horrify that show (CSI, one, two and three), or the other shows (Vanished, Kidnapped, Prison Break, Heroes, Cold Case, House, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc. OK, there aren't enough "etc" to cover the body bag brigade parading across my tube).

Even NBC's high school drama Friday Night Lights had to show me somebody drilling into a kid's back with more medical accuracy than was necessary to get the point across. I would argue it was gratuitous and even distracting.

Back to CBS' Criminal Minds, which is well acted with the always-interesting Mandy Patinkin. Last night it featured deranged serials killers who kidnapped young women, bound, tortured and killed them, digitally recorded the torture, sent the discs to their familes, then left the semi-naked bodies in degrading poses, wrapped in plastic, for the police to find (It made CSI: NY's "dancer impaled by an icicle" plotline that followed the show seem tame by comparison.)

Thank goodness none of the above was left to the imagination or to reaction shots. We got to see the torture videos and the posed semi-naked bodies and everything. There was even an insect crawling on one for extra verisimilitude And sorry, but no amount of Kalil Gibran-quoting by our cerebral hero at the end of the show justified the voyeuristic celebration of the horror that preceded it. Unless of course the DVDs in which we watch investigators watching the violent video on TV screens were a sort of Shakespearian play-within-a-play device in order to comment on our own viewing of the violent program before us.

Naw, I think they are just trying to keep up with the (Jim) Joneses in what I have come to call the "severed arms" race for ratings. TV does seem to be giving viewers what they want, I'll gratn you that, if the CSI ratings are any gauge, though it may be people who like the crisp writing and fine acting and stomache the rest. I consider myself one of those.

I love House. I watch CSI sometimes, which is as classy and cerebral a gorefest as there is.  I guess I just wish the audience had somewhat less of a thirst forteh gore and terror, particularly when they could get their fill of horrifying, sadistic, killing by just turning on the local news.

I know, I'm a curmudgeon, but somebody has to be.

By John Eggerton

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