TV’s impact remains strong

The fall network television season’s first week further advanced the new era in crime dramas — the forensic scientist age. I’ll admit that I like these shows, and there are plenty to go around. Thursday night’s CSI was the top show of the week. CBS launched the third of its CSI series with CSI New York on Wednesday nights, and the show actually unseated long time king, Law and Order. There’s CSI Miami, Crossing Jordan, Navy NCIS, and NBC’s new Medical Investigators series. A crime show isn’t a crime show anymore unless its loaded with forensic science stuff.

This is impacting our culture in ways that only television can. I watched a fascinating report on Court TV last night in which lawyers and prosecutors were noting that juries now fully expect these goodies in trials. If a prosecutor doesn’t have it in his or her case, they had better be able to tell the jury why. The consensus was that it’s harder to get a conviction without it, and there was lots of speculation that convictions of the past wouldn’t make it in today’s jury pool. In some high-profile, forensic-science-laden cases, attorneys are screening jurors to see if they watch and enjoy such programs as CSI. They make better jurors in these cases.

Informed jurors have seen how it works on TV, and they’re demanding it in the real world. Of course, few police departments are as equipped as the labs on TV. And the flip side of this is that these shows are putting all kinds of ideas in the minds of the bad guys too, but Court TV hasn’t done that story yet.

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