Posts Tagged ‘CBS’

CSI on Spike: Vegetarians who consume “meat.”

Thursday, February 25th, 2010 by

Jorja Fox for PETA - Investigate Vegetarianism

One of the reasons I started POP! is because I felt a little odd discussing every little mention of vegetarianism, veganism and animal advocacy issues over at my main place. There are just so many examples that to address each one would quickly overwhelm a space with pop culture minutiae.

Seriously, once you get into the habit of actively engaging in media – viewing it with a critical eye, rather than passively taking it in – you start to notice animal-friendly (and, on the downside, animal-unfriendly) themes everywhere: vegetarianism is discussed in passing; characters talk about their “pets”; animal “evidence” is discovered at a crime scene; monsters and aliens act as stand-ins for free-living predators and conventionally intelligent nonhuman species; cyborgs and AI challenge our notions of what it means to be “human”; etc., etc., etc.

Anyhow, while watching a rerun of CSI on Spike this morning, I caught an unexpected – and insightful – example of the former: a short-lived character who just so happened to be a vegetarian. His vegetarianism – which seemed to extend beyond his diet, to his ethical beliefs – was incidental to the plot line; he could have just as easily been an omnivore. But his rejection of “meat” (as well as cheese – perhaps he might have better been described as a vegan?) provided the writers an excellent opportunity to slip in a sly piece of commentary on the intersectionality of oppressions.

Season 6, Episode 19, “Spellbound” – here’s the setup. A psychic was found murdered in her storefront. The fingerprints of one Reese Bringham – the self-described vegetarian – were discovered on her cash register, suggesting a murder committed during the course of a robbery. Warrick Brown and Captain Brass have brought Reese in for questioning:

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Once a Terrorist, Always a Terrorist: Sean Maher Meets The Mentalist *

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 by

The Mentalist logo banner

Caution: Spoilers ahead!

No stranger to the Green Scare, the latest episode of CBS’s The Mentalist (Season 2, Episode 12 – the appropriately titled “Bleeding Heart“) featured a terra-inducing plot line, complete with a proposed mega-development in the wilderness, government corruption and intrigue, and a graffiti-and-arson-loving eco-terrorist named Jasper.

Here’s what you need to know, via TVOvermind:

Sean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam of Firefly

The Mentalist “Bleeding Heart” begins with Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) and consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) being interviewed by a camera crew in the CBI office. […]

Lisbon allows the crew access to the office and bullpen, but not the crime scene. The team is investigating the murder of the mayor’s aide, who was found when the mayor herself broke ground in front of the cameras for a new development project. When they interview Mayor Melba Walker Shannon (Sharon Lawrence of Privileged and NYPD Blue) and her assistant Wilson (Firefly‘s Sean Maher), Jane notices immediately that the mayor seems uncomfortable talking about the victim. When he presses, the mayor asks them to leave.

A possible perpetrator of the crime is an environmental group led by a man named Jasper. Though they’ve burned down buildings on protective land and other drastic measures, they haven’t committed any murder in their past history. Rigsby and Cho pay a visit to the foreman on the building site where the aide’s body was discovered, but while they’re questioning him, the trailer gets firebombed and the door jammed. The foreman is injured and Rigsby and Cho barely make it out with him before the place burns up. It’s clear to them that Jasper is escalating in violence.

Further investigation leads the team to suspect that the mayor was being bribed to approve projects on previously protected lands.

The investigation continues, yada yada yada, Jane takes the news crew out for tacos by way of an apology for exploding at them earlier – and is promptly kidnapped by Jasper and his crew:

Jane is blindfolded and led to a cabin in the woods. His blindfold is removed and he’s confronted by the masked men, one of whom he surmises is eco-terrorist Jasper. Jasper wants Jane to carry a message that he’s not the one who committed murder or attempted to kill the detectives. Unfortunately Jane reveals that he’s figured out Jasper’s identity–the mayor’s assistant Wilson. […]

While Jasper tries to decide what to do now that Jane knows his identity, Jane tries to talk his way out of his own possible murder, saying he can help Wilson. He succeeds in getting Wilson to a near state of hypnosis, when they’re suddenly interrupted by a loud shout that the house is surrounded by law enforcement personnel. Jane urges Jasper to stay calm. When Lisbon and the cops burst in, Jane is alone and restrained and Jasper has escaped out of a trap door.

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“I have always loved Harry’s ribs!”

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

CSI smiley logo

Caution: Spoilers ahead.

The second-to-last episode of CSI in 2009 featured a particularly animal-friendly plot line. I say “particularly” rather than “surprisingly” because CSI has a longstanding track record of treating animals and animal advocacy issues with a modicum of respect – a practice which stands in sharp contrast to similar crime shows like Law & Order. (See, for example, Veg*nism & Pop Culture: But does Costa Rica have an extradition treaty? and Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Sara Sidle: From CSI to Terra-ist.)

Season 10, Episode 9 (Appendicitement) saw the CSI team investigating not one, but two separate murders, both of which occurred on the premises of a BBQ joint. Since IMDB has a decent writeup of the episode, I’ll let them take it away:

There are two twisty tales in Vegas tonight. Strike that, one in Vegas and one outside.

The first tale concerns lab tech Henry. Greg, Nick, and Hodges literally kidnap Henry on his birthday to take him to this great barbecue place up the road apiece called Harry’s Hog Hideout.* On the way there a crazy lady runs them off the road and the car rolls. Fortunately, none of them is seriously injured but Nick’s car is out of commission. With no cell service, they decide to walk the last little bit to Harry’s but, unfortunately, when they arrive they discover it’s been closed for seven months due to a Hepatitis outbreak. They decide to poke around and see if there’s a working phone inside.

Instead they find a dead body, a man with a raccoon attached to his face.

While Henry, disgruntled about his crummy birthday, hangs with the dead guy Hodges and Greg poke around outside. They figure out that the guy lured the raccoon to a nearby barrel and tried to kill him by filling the barrel with ethylene gas and blowing him up. The explosion threw the raccoon and the guy through the window of Harry’s. So it was an accident.

Meanwhile, Nick looks for a phone and it’s not working. He returns to the scene just as another guy shows up and pulls a gun on Henry. They make it clear that they’re cops and the guy, Slick explains that the dead guy was Gomez the cook at Harry’s, who was generally a good guy.

(Emphasis and asterisks mine, of course.)

Initially – and in breaking with the show’s usual treatment of such cases – the CSI investigators exhibit disappointingly little concern for the dead raccoon. Personally, I am lacking in sympathy for people who inadvertently blow themselves up while trying to lure a sentient being into a trap, only to torch him alive. Killing “nuisance” animals – especially when there are humane, catch-and-release options available – is bad enough; plotting to light them on fire while still alive and fully conscious is downright sadistic. Unfortunately, the CSI team doesn’t voice any of these thoughts – that is, until much later in the show.

Once the plot unfolds and the bodies are transported back to the lab, coroner David Phillips expresses grief at the raccoon’s demise. I can’t recall what exactly was said (nor did I think to save the episode on my DVR so that I might type up a transcript – doh!), but I believe that David muttered something about the human getting what he deserved and referred to the raccoon as an innocent bystander.

In other words, all is well in the Las Vegas crime lab!

Alas, we still have one body to account for…

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: But does Costa Rica have an extradition treaty?

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Very minor spoilers ahead.

I’m a few months late on this – for some inexplicable reason, my DVR “forgot” to record this Very Special episode of CSI, and for an even more inexplicable reason, it took the Mr. and I months to notice – but in the interest of closure, I just have to mention it anyway.

Early on in Season 9 of CSI, vegetarian and animal advocate Jorja Fox left the show; a few weeks after her departure, the writers dropped a subtle hint that her character, Sarah Sidle, had joined up with Paul Watson and his band of sometimes-merry eco-terrorist pirates at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (if you’re not a regular visitor to Sea Shepherd’s website, you probably would have missed the URL).

Fast-forward a few months, to the Season 9 episode “One to Go” (9×10). Sarah’s on-again, off-again, is-he-her-fiance-or-isn’t-he? love interest, Gil Grissom (William Petersen) is quitting CSI as well. Most of the episode focuses on Grissom’s last case with Las Vegas CSI, and also serves to introduce Gil’s replacement, Dr. Langston (Laurence Fishburne!?).

However, in the last few minutes, we see Grissom

walk the halls smiling to himself as he looks in each room at the lab and sees Brass, Hodges and Wendy, other CSIs, Robbins and Riley, Stokes and Greg. He catches Catherine’s eye in one room and she winks at him. He smiles broadly and turns and walks away. The screen blurs, fades to white and cuts to Grissom wandering a jungle, dressed in a hat and sweaty gear examining a GPS marked Costa Rica. His eyes light on a bug for a moment. He walks into a clearing where a woman, whose back is to the camera, is taking a picture of a monkey in a tree. The woman turns and it’s Sara (Jorja Fox). They take each other in for a moment and then embrace and kiss, passionately.

As Cindy pointed out in the comments to a previous post, Sarah mentioned in an earlier episode that she planned to travel to the Galapagos; and indeed, Sea Shepherd’s activities include an effort to save the Galapagos, so that’s probably where she was (or was heading) when we saw her email Grissom. So why on earth are the two now in Costa Rica, hmmmm?

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Meat huggers ruin everything on The Mentalist.

Sunday, January 11th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Proceed with caution: Major spoilers ahead!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about an animal rights terrorism plotline on CBS’s The Mentalist. At the time, I worried that maybe the show had jumped the shark. Well, after a brief break over the holiday season, The Mentalist returned Tuesday with an awesome episode (Season 1, Episode 11: Red John’s Friends). Although…I was a little surprised to see animal rights terra-ists make another brief appearance. That’s two episodes in a row, and in completely unrelated story lines. And this time, we Totally. Ruin. Everything. Like WTF, Bruno Heller!?

Here are the relevant bits: the titular character (Simon Baker as Patrick Jane) used to be a psychic charlatan, a fraud. A real sleazy John Edward type. While on the daytime talk show circuit, Jane started talking smack about a serial killer called Red John, whom he was “helping” the police to catch. Red John got pissed and killed Jane’s wife and daughter. Jane renounced his flim-flamin’ ways and joined the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as a legitimate consultant – with the ultimate goal of one day finding Red John and exacting revenge.

There’s the background. So. In this particular episode, a convicted murderer (Todd Stashwick as Jared) makes a deal with Jane: Jane proves the man’s innocence (he’s an asshat, but ultimately not guilty of this particular crime), and he’ll tell Jane everything he knows about Red John (a friend of friend dealio). Jane ultimately solves the case, catching the real killer – but with a little help from Red John. Red John, you see, is onto Jared, and wants him sprung from the pokey so Red John can kill him before Jared divulges his identity. Jared suspects as much because, hey! – he’s flapping his gums about outing a serial killer. CBI wants Jared to get to Red John who also wants to get Jared. It’s a game of cat and mouse, and they’re all playing one another.

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Animal Rights Terra-ists on The Mentalist

Saturday, December 20th, 2008 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Proceed with caution: Spoilers galore!

Ten episodes in, and already The Mentalist has jumped on the animal rights terra-ism bandwagon.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m addicted to cop tv: The X-Files, CSI, NCIS, Law & Order, Criminal Intent, Life, NYPD Blue – I just love ’em. And my love runs extra-deep for the serialized cop drama/mystery/thrillers with a season/series-long story arc. Throw in a lead character who just so happens to be an atheist, and I’m hooked. Hello, The Mentalist!

That said, the latest installment (Season 1, Episode 10: Red Brick and Ivy) just wasn’t up to snuff.

The plot line is all too familiar: a scientist who experiments on non-human animals is murdered; the prerequisite, SHAC-like animal rights group which has been “terrorizing” said scientist (or said scientist’s university/lab/company/employer) for months is suspect numero uno. Cue the crazy!

In The Mentalist, the scientist in question is an up-and-coming neuroscientist who, along with his colleagues, has been conducting invasive research on animals (most notably, chimpanzees – unfortunately, a baby chimp does have a role in the episode) in order to locate the structures in the human brain which govern morality. The end goal? Finding a way to manipulate these structures and thus, magically, turn all of humanity into moral beings. Whatever that means.

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Sara Sidle: From CSI to Terra-ist

Friday, November 7th, 2008 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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On yesterday’s episode of CSI (“Leave Out All the Rest“), recently departed CSI Sara Sidle sends Gil Grissom a .mov file -slash- Dear John “letter” over the internets. Look closely, and you can briefly see her email address flash across the screen: info@seashepherd.org. ZOMG! Sara is sailing with the crew of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society!

Of her adventure with Captain Paul Watson and his band of anti-whaling pirates, Sara says,

Hello from below the equator, in Puerto Ayora. We’ve been at sea for over a month now. Man, you wouldn’t believe the crew – students, activists, scientists – the dinner conversations alone are mindblowing. And there’s even this marine biologist that reminds me a little bit of you. I wish that we could talk in person but this is the best that I can do. I want to apologize for being out of touch. I’ve been thinking about us a lot, though, all the moments. I thought we could survive anything. This trip has given me a lot of clarity. That last year in Vegas, I could barely breathe, let alone think but now, for the first time in a really long time, I’m happy.

When actress Jorja Fox – the vegetarian and PETA supporter who plays Sara Sidle – left CSI last season, I was afraid it would be the end of CSI’s animal-friendly plotlines. In the past, they’ve dealt with canned hunting involving discarded zoo animals, dog fighting, factory farming and chicken slaughter, and Sara’s vegetarianism, of course. The show has been honored by the HSUS’s Genesis Awards for its compassionate storylines; in a multi-episode plotline, Danny Bonaduce played an aging rock star/animal welfare crusader, who targeted said slaughterhouse in a PETA-like PSA.

Given that Jorja Fox is the high-profile veg*n on CSI’s set, I assumed that she was the driving force behind these stories. I wonder whether she managed to convert any of her co-workers, or if one/some of the writers also just happen to be interested in animal advocacy on their own?

Either way, I think it’s totally awesome that Sara Sidle has defected – from Crime Scene Investigator to international, sea-faring, anti-whaling, activist-pirate-terrorist. Welcome to the dark green side, Sara. Just be careful who you extend your vegan potluck invites to.

Keep up with Sara and the crew through Whale Wars, now airing on Animal Planet (Fridays at 9PM).

Update, 11/22/08: Looks like Daryl Hannah is joining the crew, too!