10 February 2002 | ladyinterference
great program with more pros than cons
"Forensic Files" is one of the more recent entries to the list of forensics programs out there on the TV landscape, but by no means is it weak from it. In fact, the program is the best thing that Court TV offers during its prime-time lineup of factual programming and reruns of dramas such as "NYPD Blue".
Let's look at the advantages "Forensic Files" has to its predecessors and to every other forensics program out there. First of all, it has the most excellent Peter Thomas as its narrator. You know the voice -- he's been the soothing grandfatherly voice behind numerous commercials for years, including some of the recent Visine ads. His calm and patient delivery allows everyone, from those just starting out with forensics programs to full-on fanatics of the genre, to get an easy grasp of the procedure the team of forensics experts used to solve the crime being highlighted in the show. This brings me to another one of the reasons this program succeeds -- it takes its time in presenting every step in the investigation so the viewer won't have any nagging, unanswered questions after the program is over. The recreations and footage used are yet another plus. In other forensics programs, you get the feeling that the people behind the program are taking some liberties with their recreations -- for example, even the dimmest of armchair detectives can tell that forensics experts gathering evidence at the scene of the crime probably don't put their evidence in bulky paper bags, which is what another popular forensics program shows in its recreations. The footage, when presented, is absolutely wonderful to see as it actually lets the viewer see a little of what was on the local news in regards to the crime at hand. One final advantage is the interview process. Investigators, family members, victims, and criminals all are interviewed and the choicest of bits are incorporated in the program. In one episode, a mother who was falsely accused of arson and premeditated murder with regards to her baby son is shown weeping openly in front of the old house that had caught on fire, and then the program ends. This leaves the viewer with the feeling that the woman is to be pitied and you feel genuine sadness at her predicament, but at the same time she was vindicated with the help of some astute forensic investigators so you feel glad because of that.
Not all of what the program is about is great, though. Sometimes, the narration can go through a story in such a plodding pace that a youngun such as myself is tempted to yell at the TV for the pace to quicken up. This usually happens in my case, though, when I'm watching an episode I've already watched about twice before. Then there's the case of the Canadian expatriate con artist who murdered a Canadian business acquaintance of his so he (the con artist) could continue living under the businessman's name in England with his daughter serving as his wife. When the program about this case brought up the fact that the daughter had two children, I wanted to know more about this aspect of the case, but the program never tied up that particular loose end. I suspect, though, that this was purely because of time constraints and so I sincerely hope there's a book out there on the market on this case.
At any length, if you're interested in forensics, this is a great program to watch. I don't watch it as much as I used to because of lack of free time,
but when I do I genuinely enjoy it. I think the key to the program really is Peter Thomas, though. He can do no wrong.