CSI
Organ Grinder

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The loser, by a hair

The show begins as it so often does: desultory shots of the strip at night, confirming for those of us who have Memento-like cognitive disorders that yes, CSI does take place in Las Vegas. We then zoom into the lobby area of one of your nicer, newer casinos: the marble floors are, as of yet, unscuffed, and the clientele doesn't have the chain-smoking, Frito-eating stink of unhealthy living about them.

They do, however, give off pheromones in rolling waves. More specifically, a young blond man is walking a young blonde woman over to the elevator and promising her, in between exploratory excursions to her tonsils, that "you're going to love my room. It has a view of the whole Strip from the balcony." Somehow, I get the sense neither one of them is big into surveying the miracle that Circus Circus and its contemporaries hath wrought in turning the Las Vegas Strip into one mega-casino after another. As the man -- who is, it should be noted, sporting the same haircut that was visual shorthand for "swinger!" in the 1970s -- swirls the woman around and pins her against a wall, she protests her normal rectitude: "I don't usually do this. Especially with guys I just met." He feigns assent, murmuring, "I could tell just by looking at you," as he manages to multitask, copping a feel while pressing an elevator button. The blonde balks for a moment, and Casanova swoops in for his final sales pitch: "Don't worry. You can trust me." On CSI? Oh ho ho. "Promise?" asks the blonde, clearly looking for someone upon whom to hang the blame for the rotten judgment call she's about to make. "I never lie," purrs the bargain-basement lothario. As the elevator opens, she simpers, "You are so baaaaad." "Yeah, I am," says Mister Don't-Worry-You-Can-Trust-Me. You know, most women would take that as a sign to either burst into mocking laughter or exit the elevator. Then again, most women probably would have shot this guy down when he tried to pick them up with a sloppily-made Cosmopolitan and some line about lipstick. Luckily for us, Blondie's one of a kind; she lets this paperback-romance roué twirl her around and slam her into the elevator wall in the kind of move that will leave her breathless not from passion, but rather from direct impact with a wall. Still, who am I to deny these two insipid bubbleheads their night of tawdry passion? I'm the recapper, that's who. On with mocking, I say! Our would-be seducer is busy gnawing his way down the blonde's neck, and she's making all the appropriate noises lest elevator passengers or passersby mistake them for anything other than two pretty people having fantastic foreplay, when she gets distracted. She makes a squeaky noise -- which Romeo, currently engaged in activities south of the border, interprets as lust -- and then points out that there's an unconscious male body in the elevator with them.

Cut to the television couple currently not busy conducting oral examinations of each other's anatomy, i.e. Gil and Sara, entering the crime scene. Sara asks Brass if the suspicious-circs assessment is true; Brass replies that the anonymous phone call to 911 immediately before the body's discovery in the elevator seem to lend weight to that theory. Gil asks where the body in question was; Brass tells him that since the man was unconscious but breathing, paramedics took him to Desert Palms hospital. Sara asks if this breathing piece of evidence has a name. Indeed, he does: Bob Fairmont. Brass adds that Fairmont is an upscale home developer. That's a nicer way of putting it than I would, i.e. the suburban Satan, the merchant of McMansions, the hobgoblin of homogeneity. Clearly, my issues with bland suburban housing developments are not shared by the writers on the show. Anyway, Sara pops in with, "'A Fairmont Home, you'll never roam.' His billboards are everywhere," thereby establishing that this man is quite the high-profile wealthy local figure. Brass hands over photos of the non-roaming Bob Fairmont to a glowering Gil; Gil, in perhaps a subtle shout-out to William Petersen's earlier roles as JFK (The Rat Pack) and Joseph P. Kennedy (The Kennedys of Massachusetts), cracks, "This is phony as a Chappaquiddick neck brace." Sara leans in and notes that the stiff's suit is, shall we say, rumpled. Gil clarifies for Brass, since it's not like Brass was a long-time investigator or the former head of the CSI or anything: "It's impossible to redress an unconscious person and make it look like they dressed themselves. You notice anything about the suit coat?" Brass looks at the snaps and replies, "Well, unless he's going to court or church, there's no way he buttons all three buttons." Gil doles out a crumb of praise, then turns to Sara and says wonderingly, "Why do they think they can fool us?" Sara has no answer for him, what with Pete Townsend and the boys making a ruckus in the background. I think maybe they want to know who we are.

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