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It's A Bouncing Baby Spin-off

They say Paris is the City of Lights, but I suspect that phrase was coined before the Strip arose in Las Vegas. We see a few shots of the Strip at night, then swoop across the globe to an English mansion. Oh, wait. Silly me -- I forgot that Las Vegas has apparently moved from a desert biome to the rainforest. Anyway: big mansion filled with revelers, all in cocktail-party garb. They alternate between grabbing the hors d'oeuvres and grabbing each other. Loud music plays in the background to signal to the CBS demographic that this is supposed to be a wretched excess. We zoom outside the mansion for a moment so we can get a view of a little girl staring out the window. She sadly watches a few couples lurching across the lawn on their way to assorted assignations. Then we're back inside, where a brunette party girl has just draped herself over a balding man someone checked out of the "Corrupt Authority Figure" locker over in Central Casting. "We should have these parties more than once a month," she coos. The fellow diverts his attention from the arm candy on his left to address her comment: "I wouldn't want Mina to be jealous." We get a better look at the brunette's face; it looks like someone's checked Kari Wuhrer out of the "Harlot" locker for the night as well. She's always given off a faintly tawdry vibe; even on Sliders, one got the sense she possessed a certain moral laxity coupled with a few hobbies best not discussed in polite company. Anyway, the women all simper and writhe; clearly, someone told them, "Now if you want to act sexy, remember how women looked in hair band videos from 1988. Preen and arch your backs a lot. It worked for Tawny Kitaen." There's a few seconds of this, and the chief notices a silhouetted figure standing in the doorway. "Who's that guy?" he asks. Kari replies, "Hey, Chief, I didn't know you were into guys too." He laughs -- because she's evidently the erotic equivalent of Dorothy Parker -- and the three commence doing things I'm sure you can see in Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle-Jerk.

Naturally, this is when the little girl decides to open the door. She peeks out to see a group of adults heading into a bedroom, then hops back into bed. The resigned expression on her face is pitiable. The clock reads 12:20 AM, and the child settles down for the night. The next shot returns to the clock to establish that it's 3:45 AM. There are two gunshots; the little girl bolts upright, looking quite wary. "Daddy?" she calls. She swings her legs over the edge of the bed, clearly psyching herself up to leave its relative safety and open her bedroom door. The door opens first, the door slowly squeaking open. The man in the doorway is backlit so we don't see his features. The little girl does. As the door opens wider, we see her face growing more fearful.

And then it's dawn, if the dim sky and mist wreathing the manse are anything to go by. We see the usual assortment of cop cars, then narrow in on Captain Exposition leading Gil and Catherine inside the mansion. Captain Exposition upholds his sworn duty: "Two days ago he had a party. High-end guest list, very private. And that was the last anyone saw of him. Housekeeper arrives twenty minutes ago, this is what she found." Before we get to that, let me comment on Gil's bold decision to forgo the usual charcoal-and-black palette for the positively spring-like butter-cream shirt and khaki windbreaker. Catherine, whose hair is looking fantastic, comes in behind him, looking fabulous in a charcoal suit and white johnny-collar shirt. Yes, this is a little fashion-oriented; I just read "Television's Clothes Captioning" in the style section of Friday's Washington Post and it stuck. Anyway, Gil and Catherine look fabulous. The Corrupt Authority Figure, who's naked, trussed, and sporting an apple in his mouth and a demiglace made from his own blood, looks considerably less fabulous. Catherine and Gil look appalled; they turn to look at Brass, who raises his eyebrows as if to say, Well, now I've seen everything. Catherine says faintly, "Ex-chief of detectives." Then, switching from personal mode into professional, her voice gets stronger as she continues, "Left to make the big bucks. Consultant for security at every major casino in town and couldn't even protect himself." Gil walks around to get a look at the rump roast. He says, "There's only one interpretation for this: Kill the pig." Catherine asks about the general health and whereabouts of the rest of the family. Brass says there's no sign of the wife. Catherine asks, "How about the daughter?" How does she know about the daughter? Did Corrupt Authority Figure used to hold parties for the police force? Or for strippers? Or does Catherine pick this up because -- wait for it -- she's a mother too? Brass tells Catherine uncomfortably, "The housekeeper assumed she spent the weekend with her grandmother." "'Assumed'?" says Catherine incredulously. Gil catches her look and ducks; he knows her well enough to know where this is going. Catherine practically sprints out of the room, her mommy sense tingling. She heads to the little girl's room and does an impromptu search. Gil and Brass comes in a moment later -- Gil's wearing bark-colored pants, so it really must be springtime in his world -- and Catherine turns to them, saying with some panic, "She's gone."

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