PostHeaderIcon Castle: The Wrong Stuff – A Good Cop/Bad Cop Review

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“Castle, we’ve got a murder…to solve, not commit.” ~ Beckett

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Melanie Atkins

I enjoyed the show this week, but not as much as I thought I would. The episode did have some funny moments, especially at the beginning. Rick’s irritation at Alexis letting her friend use his laser tag gear cracked me up, as did his response to Martha’s beau wearing Rick’s pajamas. So funny.

Our dynamic duo got called away to a murder soon after encountering all of this unusual entertainment and had to leave the loft almost the moment they arrived. The murder was an odd one, having occurred in a simulation of a one way mission to Mars. Rick, of course, loved the opportunities this investigation afforded, especially their having to don space suits before entering the simulation area. A lot of this made me giggle, too.

The rest of the episode I found fairly ho-hum, except for Rick and Kate’s brief return to the loft when they discover Martha is inside again with her beau and then encounter Alexis and her pack of friends at the door. All Rick and Kate seem to want is some alone time in their own home. So they call a family meeting… to happen later.

After this brief interlude, our two crime solvers returned to the precinct to work on the case, and I quickly decided I didn’t care who had killed the astronaut. I didn’t enjoy all the drama around Mira, who obviously didn’t kill Tom. The other astronauts did. They also tried to kill Rick and Kate once they put two and two together, and had to yawn again. Please.

Of course, they escaped and arrested the persons responsible. Yay for them. I was so happy the case was over and delighted with Rick and Kate’s return to the loft and their family meeting with Martha and Alexis (who did not come because her grandmother told her to stay away.)

Turns out Martha had an important announcement to make: She’s moving out of the loft and getting her own place. Sweet! Now Rick and Kate will have the loft to themselves more often. Martha even mentions the possibility of little Castles in their future, and I loved that. What I didn’t love was Rick and Kate bolting from the loft almost as soon as Martha left because the place was too quiet. Really? After they’d kissed in the hallway on their last trip home so they could do so in peace? This seemed way out of character to me and not in tune with the rest of the episode. Don’t know what the writers were thinking. Sigh.

Now we have a three week hiatus before the next episode. Happens this time every year. I look forward to seeing episode seventeen when the show comes back. Just hope it’s more satisfying than this one.

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Lee Lofland

This episode was better than the last, by far, but for me it was a predictable yawner. Still, there were plenty of funny moments that were reminiscent of the Castle of days long ago. Castle playing space man. Castle being excited about going to Mars. Castle…well, just Castle being Castle.

I even thought the blushing computer was humorous. Did you see it? When MIRA was caught lying her graphics turned red.

Mama Castle moving out was extremely predictable. I mean, who didn’t see that coming?

But let’s take a quick peek at the police aspects of the show. Remember, my job is to point out the rights and wrongs for the writers out there. So…

– Ryan was absolutely correct that DNA from exhaled breath condensate can be collected and tested for ID purposes in criminal cases. It can be done and it has been done. However, the copy of the autoradiogram produced by gel testing of DNA we saw Ryan holding is not the typical result we’d see in most modern DNA testings. An autoradiogram is a sort of x-ray picture of where radioactive probes have adhered to alleles. (It’s a picture of someone’s DNA).

Today’s DNA tests are most often run in a genetic analyzer, which produces an electropherogram, a graph showing peaks and valleys, not the black and white rectangular bands produced by gel testing that results in the autoradiogram. Some labs still run gel tests (NYC, though?), so this wasn’t a total ding.

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Genetic analyzer above left, and gel testing method on right.

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Electrophrogram produced by genetic analyzer above left. Autoradiogram image of DNA bands on right.

You can read more about DNA testing in one of my past articles. DNA Testing

– Castle and Beckett are intentionally locked inside the pod with poisonous gas pouring in. In case anyone’s keeping a running tally, that was yet another abduction. Oh, was there ever any mention of attempted murder charges filed against the people who locked the dynamic duo inside that pod-thing?

And, speaking of the three co-murderers, how soon was it when you zeroed in on them as the killers of the week? It was pretty easy to spot when the 4th guy who, by the way, had an airtight alibi, mentioned how they all hated the victim and did NOT want to go to space with him.

Finally, Beckett was back on the APB kick this week, instead of BOLO. Remember, writers, APB (All Points Bulletin) was replaced by BOLO (Be On The Lookout) about the time when Pac Man was still hot. I’m one of the old-timers and I’ve never used APB, nor have I ever heard it spoken by anyone other than TV cops.

 

PostHeaderIcon Murder Really Bugs Me…and so do stories that get it wrong!

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I was in Sacramento, Ca. last Saturday to present a workshop to the Capitol Crimes Chapter of Sisters in Crime. The room was packed, the audience was great, and we had a ton of fun discussing cops, bad guys and, of course, murder. Naturally I named my presentation…

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During the two-hour session we discussed things often found in books that aren’t always totally correct. Here’s a brief sample of the discussion.

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Do you know the answer? No? Well…

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For example, a man kills his business partner in their office. Then the killer drives to a nearby fast food restaurant where he tosses the murder weapon into the bushes near the parking lot.  A few minutes later a group of kids find the gun and call the police.

The office where the murder occurred is the scene of the crime, which is also a crime scene because evidence can be found there. The place where the weapon was located is a crime scene because evidence (the weapon) is there. But the wooded area at the fast food establishment is NOT the scene of a crime.

What about Homicide?

We see many media headlines that, by design, are intended for shock value, hoping to either attract readers or to ignite raw emotion. Papers and online news sources often use the word HOMICIDE to make every single death, especially one that’s at the hand of a police officer, seem as if the person has committed a premeditated and cold-blooded killing.

However…

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Well, they’re not always the same. For example…

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That’s right, every single death that’s caused by another person is a homicide, including those listed above—state executions, when you’re defending your own life and your attacker is killed during the act, and even when a psycho-wacko serial killer grabs your child and you kill him while saving the person most precious to you. Yes, each of those deaths are homicides. Likewise, anytime a police officer kills someone during a shootout, while defending his life or the life of another, etc., he/she commits a homicide.

A homicide can most definitely be a legal act, and is, unless the act is unjustifiable or without a legitimate and reasonable excuse. An unjustifiable homicide is a MURDER, and murder is illegal.

A justifiable homicide is NOT an illegal act. So those “Coroner Rules Death A Homicide!!” headlines are nothing more than words used to have you click to read a story, or to incite some sort of emotion, because ALL killings of one person by another are HOMICIDES. Please do not take the media’s bait.

However, when a headline reads, “Police Charge H.E. Killder With Murder,” well, that’s a crime story you may find of interest, especially if H.E. Killder is the mayor of your town, or your family doctor.

Time of Death

Writers often ask questions about determining time of death. Here’s a quick-reference pocket guide your protagonist should keep handy. It, like most other methods, is not 100% on the money, but it provides a good starting point.

Obviously, Body Condition in the chart below refers to a dead body. Time Frame refers to hours after death.

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By the way, if your very-much-alive date is cold/not rigid then you can definitely expect to never, ever hear from her/him again. You should also strongly consider working on your people skills, dance moves, small talk, and/or bad breath.

Shoot/Don’t Shoot

I presented the SinC group with this scenario. You’re an officer who’s received a call and during your investigation you encounter this woman in an alley. You’re in uniform, your badge is shining brightly in the sunshine and, therefore, it’s totally obvious that you are a police officer. In the photo below, would the officer be justified to use deadly force? Should he shoot, or not?

What would you do, and why?

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