Humor and Satire– Shmatire!

Tag Archives: Television

Matthew David Brozik and I took on real and surreal crime-fighting in this week’s Perpetual Post.  Read his much more informed side here.


Last week someone broke into my car and ripped out my stereo.  Since I fancy myself to be a bit of a forensics buff, I took some clear tape and lifted a partial fingerprint off the car door handle and brought it to my local precinct so they could ID it and catch the criminal.  Well, they laughed in my face!  Told me to stick the tape over my mouth and buy a car alarm.   I was shocked and offended!  While these guys were out writing speeding tickets and answering domestic disturbance calls, some crazed junkie was making off with my car stereo!

I just knew that if David Caruso from CSI Miami had been there, he would have slowly removed his sunglasses, squinted at me, tossed off a one-liner about catching the guy ‘in stereo’, and used my partial fingerprint to pull up a copy of the perpetrator’s criminal record, including a glamour shot of him looking like a threatening lowlife.   Then he would have pinpointed the thief’s exact location by tracking his cell-phone signal or figuring out what he ate for lunch that day or where he bought his shoes or something.  Finally, he would trick the guy into confessing, exposing a giant car-stereo-theft crime ring in the process.  A hot girl would try to seduce him for some reason, someone else would get pushed down an open elevator shaft, and after an hour everything would be neatly wrapped up with a parting shot featuring David Caruso slowly removing his sunglasses and squinting.

So what the hell were those lazy boring police officers thinking?  They were doing it all wrong!  When will law enforcement catch up with television law enforcement?  Those guys on TV—now THEY know how you get things done!  They don’t second-guess themselves!  There’s no whining about how blood spatter analysis is an inexact science.  The title character on Dexter can tell what kind of weapon was used, at what speed, and whether the attacker was left or right handed just by looking at a few errant drops.  On CSI Las Vegas, the team used lasers to convert the grooves in some clay on a pottery wheel into sound so that they could hear what the victim had been saying as he threw a pot.  And you’re telling me that real law enforcement can’t even tell for sure if fingerprints are a definite match or not?   Batman pulled a fingerprint off a shattered bullet in The Dark Knight.  He’s putting non-televised criminal investigators to shame.

So what if lie detector tests are inadmissible in court!  From what TV has led me to believe, if you’re a hard-bitten FBI agent who’s passionate about your job, you can make someone confess to a crime they committed just by yelling at them, because you can just tell that they did it!

The next time I visit the local police station to ask if one of their trained dogs can tell if my coworker is a drug addict by licking his coffee cup, and they give me the cold shoulder, I’m going to suggest that they watch more CSI and do less boring paperwork and beat-patrolling.  There are apparently a few things in life you have to learn the hard way, from television—not from experience.

I think I might be slowly coming around to MacGyver.  Don’t tell Brian I said this, but I may have misjudged the man.  Last night we watched several episodes back-to-back, and by the end of the third one, when MacGyver and his lady friend of the hour parachuted out of a plane inside a sports car with a trunk full of stolen diamonds, I must admit, I was grudgingly impressed.  I am also impressed that Microsoft Word’s dictionary corrected my spelling of the word ‘MacGyver’.  Not just anyone gets into the Microsoft Word dictionary, my friends.

Don’t get me wrong here– the road to my heart is all not that easy; it takes more than a roll of duct tape and a bag of kettle corn to win me over (although it didn’t in college).  I was extremely skeptical during the first episode or so.  The synthesized music, the high-waisted jeans and off-the-shoulder shirts of the ’80s, MacGyver’s suspiciously mullet-like hair-all of these things added to my discomfort and my certainty that I was not going to watch more than an episode or two.  Brian would be just fine watching the remaining 39 episodes of season one by himself, I thought.  But gradually, I began to relax.  I stopped snickering every time a female character fawningly repeated MacGyver’s name to him over and over again.  “Oh, MacGyver!  You’re so reckless.  That’s just like you, isn’t it MacGyver?  What am I going to MacGyver with you, MacGyver?”

After a few of snide remarks about the unlikelihood of MacGyver’s jury-rigged contraptions actually working, I decided to shut up and enjoy myself.  After all, no one likes the killjoy who says things like, ‘He better hope there’s no wind, or that candle is going to blow out before it burns through her purse-strap and sets off those fireworks as a diversion.’  Likewise the wet blanket who sneers, ‘Can you really deflect a laser beam with plastic tubing?’ or ‘Those guys are two dunes away with automatic weapons, they can’t hit a frickin’ air balloon?’  That person is no fun.  No one wants to watch MacGyver with them.

Of particular enjoyment to me was the refreshing lack of violence.  I am what my mother would call ‘a delicate flower’– too faint-hearted for the gruesome scenes in most modern movies and television shows.  Is it just me, or did there used to be less grisly stuff on basic cable?  Now there is a CSI for every major city, and it is safe to assume that one of the actors in the first five minutes of any crime show is about to be shot, strangled or thrown off a roof.  In contrast, during episode two, MacGyver and a plucky female journalist were discovered taking undercover pictures of a secret Central American terrorist organization.  I figured they were about to be beaten to a pulp, or at the very least threatened with electrocution; instead they got yelled at.  And the journalist’s camera film got exposed.  But that was it!  And then MacGyver and plucky journalist foiled their captors and disappeared into the jungle to spend the night together in a tent he rigged out of underbrush, but you know they only went to second base, because he is a gentleman.

Speaking of which, MacGyver also managed to earn high marks with me for his undisguised surprise each time the female lead in the episode threw herself at him.  It happens in nearly every episode– and yet, each time, he appears unabashedly delighted that he’s actually going to get some.  I like that in a man!  Maybe I’m just weird.

I think my favorite part about the experience, though, was watching this show with Brian and realizing that this MacGyver was a big part of what made him want to study engineering.  I imagine this was the case for a lot of children of the 1980s.  It was exciting, feeling as though I were watching history in the making; that every jury-rigged explosion or home-made periscope was at one time encouraging young viewers to love science.  Probably also mullets, but fortunately the science part had the most staying-power.

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