Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The plot of every episode of Cold Case ever

Kathryn Morris is 1) the whitest actress to ever be on television and 2) what Avril Lavigne will look like in her 30s.

I'm a big fan of Cold Case on TNT, although "big fan" might not be the best term for it. Frankly, it's formulaic approach to episodes is somewhat comforting, and for some reason, I get plenty of work done when watching it. Also, yes, I am aware that it was on some network before TNT, but that's the only place I ever see it. Therefore, to me, TNT "owns" the show.

Basically, in terms of formula, every episode of Cold Case follows a sort of pattern. In 3/4 of the episodes, you have someone struggling against the tide of the flashback.

For example, if the episode is set in 1940s Philadelphia, then we have a white guy fighting against his neighbors, who are trying to demonize some Japanese-Americans. Anything in the 1960s has the obvious civil rights issues. They had an episode set in a high school detention in 1994, which was essentially just a remake of The Breakfast Club.

The stories are pretty much all generic and uplifting. The Philly homicide cold case division isn't doing much to solve murders of Nazi members, you know. Most episodes serve as an excuse for Detective Lilly Rush, a.k.a. the whitest person alive, to either be tough or tender.

The remaining quarter of the episodes are somehow related to the cold case squad. Because this is television, all of them are really screwed up. I'm serious, by the way - Every single character is really flawed, to an unbelievable degree. Going down the list:

- Lilly was apparently molested as a little kid. Also, her mom abandoned her. Also also, her sister is a massive skank who slept with one of her co-workers (more on him in a second) and is on the run from New York police in several episodes.

- The Stern White Boss (I never remember his name; he's just a copy of other boss archetypes anyway) has never had a clean friend in the police force. I'm serious; any time one of his pals shows up, it means they're dirty or crooked.

- Will the Black Dude is probably the best of a bad lot. He still flies into a rage and punches a slimy district attorney, and also, his wife was killed in a hit and run, and the identity of the driver becomes a major plot point for some episodes.

- Along similar lines, Scotty Valens' ex-girlfriend slash hooker witness commits suicide by jumping into a river. Well, okay, maybe she was murdered. We're not sure. (I haven't seen every episode.) Valens is also the one who hooks up with Lilly's sister, which is nice of him. One of his first girlfriends shown by the show? A Colombian drug mule.

- Nick Vera is a drunk white cop who's wife dumps him in season one or two. He then dates a sassy black lady (more on her in a bit), and also has creepy affections on victims. Like one lady he goes after is a high school crush who comes in about her sister's murder years ago. Again, really happy stuff.

Despite all those issues, I still kind of like the show. It hits all of the bare minimum qualities of the detective show genre for me, so I let it fill up my DVR. This "base quality" thing isn't that surprising, since it was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. While he doesn't have a ton of critical successes, the guy knows how to make a presentable product.

Also, one weird thing about Cold Case - it really loves it actors used by other shows. I don't recall it dipping much into the Law and Order pool, but plenty of people from The Wire did guest spots, most noticeably, Greggs. It feels odd seeing her play the tough-as-nails (and straight!) love interest of Nick Vera for a few episodes. Kima Greggs, I feel odd watching you harassing him over a basketball.

However, the most inexplicable bit of double-casting is… Sandy Martin, a.k.a. Mac's mom from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In Always Sunny, she plays a grizzled old lady who ignores her son for the most part. In Cold Case, she plays a grizzled old lady who was a single teenage mother who killed her best friend over a baby. She, uh, needs a better agent, because there roles are pretty damn depressing.

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