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"Cold Case" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 11/09/2003

Sometimes you can have a good idea and good performances on a TV show, and it can eventually end up becoming a little boring.  I believe that is the case with CBS’s “Cold Case.”


Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris) is the only female detective on the Philadelphia homicide squad.  She is a smart, talented detective who finds her specialty when she is convinced to solve a “cold case,” which is a crime that has never been solved.  She makes use of today’s new science techniques and the finding of fresh clues to old cases to close them.  Witnesses seem more open today than when they were first interviewed, and they remember things they had forgotten then.  Her philosophy is that cold cases are more important than fresh ones because they have been waiting longer.  Her boss and mentor is Lt. Tom Stillman (John Finn.)  Det. Will Jeffries (Thom Barry) is a detective who’s been on the force so long that he was the original primary on some of her cases.  Det. Chris Lassing (Justin Chambers) is Lilly’s partner who seems to think she is wasting her time with the cold cases (that’s probably why he seems to be no longer on the show.)  Det. Nick Vera (Jeremy Ratchford) is a tough cop who gets the information and confessions in aggressive ways.  Scotty Valens (Danny Pino) is her new partner who with any luck will be more helpful than Lassing was.  Lilly is determined to make sure that no victim is ever forgotten.


In the first episode, Lilly is working on a multiple homicide case when she is approached by the former maid of a rich family.  She witnessed a murder in 1976, and is just now getting around to saying anything because she no longer fears for that job, and she is dying of cancer.  She witnessed one of the sons in the family kill a girl while the other one watched.  It was similar to the Michael Skakel/Martha Moxley case.  Lilly finds the weapon (a tennis racket) and links the brother to the murder.  This case sparks her interest in solving more cold cases.


In the second episode, the daughter of a murdered woman wants justice.  In 1983, the woman was going to testify in court against a man who exposed himself to her when she was killed by a homemade bomb packed in a laundry-detergent box.  Lilly proves that the exposing man didn’t do it.  It was her husband, who made an untraceable call from a telephone pole to lure her to the laundry box bomb.


In the third episode, a serial rapist from 1998 who was never caught makes his return.  At first, they think it is a guy who hates cats, since all the victims owned cats, and he was acting suspicious because he wouldn’t give a DNA sample.  They end up getting one anyway, and find that the cat-hater just didn’t want to admit that he wasn’t getting any from his girlfriend.  They discover that the real rapist is some guy from the army who shaved his body and liked to rape smart single girls (he knew they were smart because they hung out in libraries and museums, and they were single because they owned cats) since his family was white trash.  It wasn’t the best episode.


In the fourth episode, Lilly investigates the 1990 murder of a church organist who was found in an alley surrounded by crack vials and porno magazines.  They think it’s the woman he had cheated on his wife with at first, then the son, and finally discover that it was the mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.  She killed him because he was a sinner and a cheater.


In the fifth episode, Lilly investigates the 1973 shooting of a cop.  A woman who looks like she’s lived on the streets for years strung out on drugs brings her an old tape player.  It has a recording of the cop being shot.  Right before he is shot, he shouts out, “Runner!  Runner!  Runner!”  The widow of the cop thinks that he may have had a mistress, but it turns out to be a little girl he was going to give a ride home.  The murderer was a track star from the neighborhood who everyone called Runner.  The little girl grew up to be the drug addict woman who brought in the tape.


First, I want to say that Morris is very impressive as a strong female character on this show.  I’m glad to see her stand up to the men threatening her without a smidge of fear in her eye.  She also doesn’t later break down and cry.  This show is essentially all her, so it is fortunate that she is an interesting character.


The other thing that impresses me about this show is the music.  They seem to pick the perfect music to set the mood.  They also don’t screw up on the continuity by having a song that didn’t exist play during a flashback to the past.  Frequent readers to Entertain Your Brain know how much that drives me nuts.


Speaking of the flashbacks, I like how they do the quick glimpse of what the characters looked like in the past before introducing them in the present.  It’s a neat little trick and an easy way to keep the characters in context.


Now for the bad.  Once they set up the story, the investigations themselves can be somewhat boring occasionally.  It’s like every other episode of “Law & Order.”  The older the case, the more interesting it is though.

Cold Case” isn’t a bad show, and I plan to keep watching it.  I just hope the gimmick of the old cases remains interesting and it doesn’t get unbelievably boring like the recently cancelled L.A. Dragnet.”


Ratings System:


Try to catch this show every week...

If a better show is on, tape this one...

If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...

If this show is on, change the channel immediately!


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