Reality Bites: Forensic Files

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There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

My first thought, when I sat down to take in the first episode of Forensic Files I've watched in -- well -- forever, was "This show is still on?" It seems like only yesterday I was mostly broke and watching FF in one of the first apartments I lived in here in Houston, during it's initial run on what we only now sarcastically refer to as the Learning Channel. It later spent the bulk of its life on Court TV/truTV, before it came to its current resting spot in syndication on HLN, formerly Headline News.

And I've since moved into a house, though I'm still mostly broke.

They're not producing new ones, a fact I only realized when I hit the Info button on my remote midway through. Still, that hasn't stopped me when writing this before, and I'll be damned if I'm enduring any of The Bachelor this season.

First of all, when did HLN stop doing headline news? Used to be you could look forward to watching the same stories repeated every 30 minutes ad nauseum, but every day now you can catch a solid block of FF, especially on weeknights from midnight until Morning Express with Robin Meade.

Who I wouldn't mind "swabbing for evidence" myself, if you know what I mean.

If you've seen one episode, you've seen most of them: a (solved, usually) criminal case (murder, usually) is presented, with reenactments and testimony from the investigating/prosecuting team, before we see how the perp was finally caught. With SCIENCE.

In the Episode I Watched ("Seeing Red"), the body of a nude redhead is found folded into a suitcase that had been dumped into a landfill near Lubbock, TX. She was discovered, as narrator Peter Thomas helpfully informs us, because "Something seemed out of place, even ... for a trash heap." She's eventually identified as one Summer Lee Baldwin, mother of four and a prostitute.

Fingerprint analysis led authorities to this revelation, though I'm sure the "Summer" tattoo didn't hurt. She'd been badly beated and, gah, put in the suitcase while still alive (and two months pregnant).

As I mentioned, another hallmark of the program is the inclusion of interviews with investigators, prosecutors, and cops, many of whom I'm guess are expressing a lot more sympathy posthumously than they would for a prostitute who'd shuttled through the system a few times.

Because the murderer left the frigging sales tag on the suitcase, we know it was purchased at Wal-Mart. That should go a long way towards narrowing the suspect list down. In Lubbock. Cough.

Now, I'm sure we've all watched enough C.S.I. reruns to know that only diligent work by attractive techs with the highest quality equipment and neon lighting can catch these nefarious perps, but this dude clearly also did a stint on World's Dumbest Criminals. Bought a suitcase and a pair of latex gloves at the same time? Check. With a credit card? Check. At 3 AM on the day of the murder, thus ensuring his presence would be noted? Check. Left the Wal-Mart bag and (now used) gloves in his hotel room trash can? Without cleaning up the blood in the room? If we didn't know his actual name from the credit card (Rosendo Rodriguez) I'd think it was Ronnie Dobbs.

Seriously, if you pitched this to CBS, they'd laugh you out of their cocaine lounge. Although in some respects, It's similar to a network procedural, only without the terrible acting and sunglass fu. Could've done without the dramatic reenactment of watching a woman getting beaten to death, though.

Already headed for the needle, Rodriguez is further doomed/damned (doomned?) when cops conducting a routine search of his computer turn up web search histories for a missing girl named Joanna Rogers. She was another redhead who Rodriguez chatted up and apparently murdered. Except we have to wait to see if the FORENSIC EVIDENCE ties him to her death. Spoiler: it doesn't, mostly because too much time had passed. He does eventually confess after getting the death sentence for Baldwin's murder, because why not?

Forensic Files was mostly like I remembered, but it probably would've gone down better if I'd watched it like in the old days: after about ten beers and a Whataburger with cheese

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