CSI: Horton

Bloggified by Jake on Monday, April 24, 2006

This scene has potential, if only it were followed up by Catherine Willows and Jim Brass discussing the explosion as they duck under some crime scene tape and head for an engrossed-in-his-work Gus Grissom, who looks up and makes some kind of lame pun like:

"Building tanks must be a great job... these guys sure seemed to have a blast!"

And cue The Who!

Sadly, C.S.I. creator Anthony E. Zuiker was still twenty-five years from being born and his brainchild wouldn't hit the air for nearly six decades, but Americans in 1943 craved partially reasoned crime solving with supposedly scientific explanations, half-thought out leaps of faith, and deus ex machina conclussions as much as the Neilsen families of today.

Luckily, they had Gang Busters.

Following the opening crime scene, police interview witnesses... or one witness, and base their entire investigation on his words.Wait a second, the creepy old man with a beard that looks like he's in a junior high production of Fiddler on the Roof and whose giant, suspicious-looking telescope no one has ever actually peered through says he just happened to be looking through his telescope, doing a little late-afternoon stargazing, and happened to spot the bombs as they fell from the sky, adjusting the focus and identifying little swastikas on them?

No wonder they didn't interview any other witnesses. If there is any part of his story that has an air of believability to it, I guess I'd stopped listening by that point. Take him in for questioning and let's move on to the next crime.Or not...

Yes, on the word of a drifter, fighters are scrambled to search the skies for a Nazi superstratospheric bomber. How did you get this cushy assignment? If I was slogging my way across the French countryside, being shot at by Nazis or fighting shoulder to shoulder with Slug McCoy, I'd be pretty friggin' jealous of the boys in the Wild Goose Squadron. "That's a negative on visual of Nazi Superbomber, returning to base to refuel and continue search for leprachaun gold." Then, of course, the toughest part of their assignment was comforting the wives and girlfriends of recently wounded or killed soldiers.

When the planes can't find anything, investigators fall back on science.Fortunately, the FBI fingerprint files in 1943 consisted of eighteen guys, three of whom had lost fingers in various lawn maintenence or factory accidents, so running a set of prints against the files by sight only took about half an hour.Of course! American citizens who object to the FBI kicking in their doors probably are in on the bombing. How often do you think these guys use whatever crime their investigating that day as an excuse to go beat up some Nazi sympathizers?

"Hmm, Mrs. Livingston was found dead on the kitchen floor with a knife out of her own knife drawer stuck between her ribs. Mr. Theodore Livingston's prints are on the handle and neighbors heard the couple arguing earlier in the day, culminating in Mrs. Livingston shouting, 'Dear God, put down that knife! No, Teddy, you'll kill me! Help, someone stop my husband who is plunging this knife into my chest in cold blooded murder!' What do you think?"

"Let's go kick the crap out of some guys at one of those bars in the German part of town and see if anyone coughs up some more information."

The first house they raid--unless they've been kicking in doors and beating guys up all night and this is just the first one we see... which is entirely feasible--is full of Nazis burning valuable paperwork. By the time the FBI finishes beating everyone up, the papers are all burned but three or four scraps.Oh, well if they used chemicals this must be legit. Fortunately for police, while the Nazis burned reams and reams of papers, the scrap that had the majority of the information regarding the investigation wasn't completely burned.

Knowing where the next attack will take place, a munitions factory on the edge of town, authorities swarm into action to prevent the attack... except not.Instead, the plan is to let the Nazis attack, film it, and see if anything suspicious shows up in later analysis. More suspicious, that is, than the bombs raining down on a valuable munitions factory.

Sure enough, slow motion reveals the shells' trajectory is all wrong for bombs and must instead be coming from a large gun outside of town. This leads to the most revealing frame of the story. If someone wanted me to summarize Gang Busters in two sentences, they would be:From now on, whenever I leave the house and someone asks what I'm doing, I'm going to tell her, "Dunno... but I'm going to a farm house/Target/the grocery store... with guns!"

When they arrive, the old bearded man is still loading shells into his telescope, which is actually a giant mortar.Considering when the attack took place, the CSI guys filmed it, then developed and analyzed the film, I would assume a few hours have passed. Why hasn't this Nazi superspy taken off by now? And why is he still loading the gun? Hasn't the factory been reduced to rubble a few times over by now?

They gun down the old man and remove his beard to reveal he's not an old man afterall, but the notorious Nazi spy they'd been hunting all along. Score another one for the gratest generation's dumb luck.

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