It was Colonel Mustard all along, right?

The Guardian reports that many of us insecure, simple-minded sorts like it when a mystery's whodunnit is easy to solve -- or so says a Ohio State University study. When we pick out the right suspicious-looking character, we feel a fairly pathetic "little self-esteem boost" (we now know we're at least as smart as the author, and certainly smarter than all the dimwits still scratching their heads).

On the other hand, any of us with high self-esteem find it disappointing when the suspect we thought was just too obviously guilty turns out to be, in fact, guilty. All of this seems a little self-evident for a scientific study to prove. It's rather like spotting the female guest star on a Law & Order episode: Seven times out of 10 on a Dick Wolf TV production, you know the woman is the perp, no matter how contrived the killing mechanism or how thorny the legal issue. This goes against the reality of violent crime statistics, but hey, if we had a uneducated, male drug addict-murderer in the docket every week, it'd get boring.

Don't get me wrong -- I love the shows. But it always does seem to be Dick Wolf's ex-wife, doesn't it? Or maye it's his mommy.

December 31, 2006 10:06 AM | | Comments (2)



I don't mind the solve-the-case-in-an-hour scenario. I accept it as an implausible convention of the form, provided the social/legal issue underlying the drama is given some serious treatment -- that, it seems to me, is the whole justification for L&Q. I admit, though, I always preferred Homicide when it came to the treatment of police work and the sociology of crime.

As for SVU, it was always my least favorite of the franchise and I quickly stopped watching it (my wife continues, avidly). Part of the problem was that sex crimes, as one might imagine, are heavily weighted toward male criminals. But so as not to have a rapist or male pedophile every week, SVU keeps coming up with these bizarre scenarios with female sexual predators in some way. It's akin to -- in a flip-flop way -- why I don't watch any of the CSI shows: How many topless dancers, supermodels and prostitutes can they kill off each week?

As for regular L&O, I miss Lenny (Jerry Orbach), who was able to inject a little sour reality just by his delivery. And with Criminal Intent, I'm a big fan of Vincent D'Onofrio and Eric Bogosian as actors, but in order to tax D'Onofrio's incredible genius every week, we're back with these nutso-elaborate murder schemes and fantastical villains, who quickly become tiresome.

I gave up on those shows (which are like crack) after getting sick of the continual brilliance of the police. I'm aware that the point is to have the detectives solve a crime in an hour in a sufficiently clever, dramatic way, and that if it were done like it is in real life, that presumably might bore people. But the show that finally exhausted my patience was an episode of Law & Order SVU where a guy who had been wrongly convicted is released from jail, and to get revenge on the cop who put him there (innocently, of course!), he starts of a trail of gruesomely clever murders aimed at ruining the detective's career. So the one time the show addresses the issue of wrongful convictions, it does it in such a way that the victim is really so damn evil that even if he was wrongly convicted, he really deserved it!

As someone living in the same state as Tulia, that rubbed me way wrong.


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