Crime and Punishment
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Crime and Punishment

One of the most time honored genres in television is the crime drama. Every decade seems to usher in a new variation of this venerable type of programming. In the old days the shows centers on an undaunted detective, either on the police force or a lone private investigator. This dedicated man would hit the dark streets looking for clues that will help catch the bad guy. In more recent years this approach has for the most part been replaced by more high tech scientific methods. Technology has grown from finding a stray fingerprint or tracing a phone call to uncovering incriminating evidence in the tiniest mote of dust or trace of DNA. No matter how the dastardly criminal is foiled the overall effect is to capture the attention of the audience. The appeal of these shows is simple; from the safety of your living room you can take a vicarious walk on the shady outlaw side. No matter how well planed the crime may be you can be certain that justice will ultimately prevail. TV crime shows have run the gamut from law and order champions to men far beyond the restrictions of society. In any case the American television audience has been tuning into crime shows because they never fail to provide thrills, action and excitement. Every TV network has a collection of these shows in their catalogs but CBS Paramount holds the distribution rights to some of the genre’s greatest examples. For awhile now they have been releasing genre oriented sampler DVDs and now it is time for ‘Crime and Punishment’. This collection has four of the best known and most acclaimed crime series in television history.

Hawaii Five-O

Season 1 episode 1 September 26, 1968

Director: Richard Benedict

This series took the police series in a completely new direction to the delight of audiences. Set in the fiftieth State many initially tuned in to get a look at this topic paradise that became the latest member of the Union. Keeping people coming back for s dozen years was the quality of the writing and incredible cast. The slant of the stories was outside the usual urban crimes permitting a broader selection of crimes ranging from the usual staple of murder to international intrigue such as drug smuggling and espionage. This series followed the Hawaiian State Police headed by the strong willed and dedicated Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord). He was undaunted in his pursuit of the criminal not resting until he had him in custody and was able to tell his faithful next in command, Danny Willams (James MacArthur) to ‘book them’. In this initial episode widows have been disappearing shortly after they arrive in the islands, McGarrett suspects there is a person or gang behind the crimes and decides to use a police woman as bait to draw them out.

Dexter

Season 1 episode 1 October 1, 2006

Director: Michael Cuesta

This is without a doubt one of the most unusual crime series ever. When I told a friend that he would get into a series about a serial killer and cheer for the murderer he was extremely dubious, that is until he saw this first episode of Dexter. It quickly became one of his all time favorite series. Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is a blood splatter expert working for the Miami-Dade police along with his foul mouth adopted sister Debbie (Jennifer Carpenter). Dexter seems like an affable sort of guy, they type who always brings donuts for his co-workers and greets everybody with a smile. He even has a girlfriend Rita (Julie Benz) with two small kids who adore Dexter. The thing is his whole public persona is a lie; Dexter is a monster. He is a very proficient serial killer but he has one sort of redeeming quality; he only kills murderers, child molesters and other heinous people who are not caught by the authorities. His adopted father, Harry, discovered Dexter’s proclivity for killing taught him the code of Harry to guide the selection of his victims and avoid detection. Between the sharp writing and extraordinary acting this series is a masterpiece.

CSI: NY

Season 1 episode 1 ‘Blink’ September 22, 2004

Director: Deran Sarafian

This series represents the crime series for the new millennium. As part of the ever growing CSI franchise. The hallmarks of all these series are the use of technology that is at the very cutting edge of forensic science. The criminals are not caught by information provided by a snitch in a dark alley or pounding shoe leather against the pavement. Instead the highly trained men and women working in the crime scene investigation unit employ all the wonders of their education and rooms of super modern equipment to track down the perpetrators and make sure there is ample evidence to convict them. As with the other CSI shows this one takes on the personality of the hosting city, in this case New York City. Here any type of crime is possible and the victims range from the working class to ultra rich.

Streets of San Francisco

Season 2 episode 1 ‘The Thirty-Year Pin’ September 23, 1972

Director: Bernard L. Kowalski

This was a prime example of the use of one of the popular plot devices in crime stories; the buddy motif. In this case the pair of detectives is Detective Lt. Mike Stone (Karl Malden) and Inspector Steve Keller (Michael Douglas). Stone is a veteran of the force; a real old school investigator who goes by his gut. Keller is much younger and one of the new breed of college educated detectives. He tries to use his education in criminology to get a jump on the bad guys. This is a classic action oriented series that also was known for its quality witting.

This DVD four pack provides an excellent cross section of the genre and is a great addition to you collection.

Posted 08/23/09

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