William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Sunday, 20, July, 2008

My Job On TV

Filed under: Forensics — williamthecoroner @ 21:13

One of my friends, Susan, is a big Vincent D’Onofrio fan. She has some contacts amongst the administration of the Law and Order Franchise, and has offered to give them my contact information if they ever need consultation about forensics. I would like this, residuals are nice things, and really, the entertainment industry needs all the help it can get.

I was interviewed this weekend for a journalist writing an article on My Job on TV. It’s supposed to be on ABC.com or something. From what she said, the biggest group of people disgusted by how their jobs are portrayed on the telly are writers whose life is nothing like Sex and the City. Well, DUH!

I once got a phone call from an Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Deputy, they wanted me to determine, using, forensic evidence when this guy had died. It was winter, and he’d stolen a snowmobile and was merrily going along at 55 miles an hour, off-road, when he ran into a barbed wire fence at neck level. This scraped him neatly off the machine, and broke his neck instantly. So, they wanted me to determine the time of death, forensically. It was cold, and he was still a little warm, and his jaw was stiff but his knees weren’t, so, I sort of scratched my head, and said, “He was between 12 and 24 hours or so when I saw him at eight this morning, so he died sometime between eight AM and eight PM yesterday.”

There’s dead silence on the phone. Finally the deputy says, “His mom says he left the house at nine-thirty, and he was found on the ground at one-thirty. ”

“Oh,” I say brightly, then he died sometime between nine-thirty AM and one-thirty PM.”

“I KNEW that, you Jerk!” Comes the response from the deputy. “Can’t you do better than that?”

“No, that’s the most accurate way to tell, time of death is somewhere between time last seen and time found.”

“They do it better on C.S.I. Click.

I KNOW they do it better on C.S.I. They have writers. I don’t. But here are ten reasons why CSI makes me scream, from an old criminalist.:

10. You cant get DNA results in an hour. (Spoken normally, almost warily)
9. Hummer H2s are not likely to be used as a crime scene vehicle.
8. Unlike the CSI who was able to quit her strip job after getting her CSI
position, its rumored that some criminalists still have to strip for extra
7. DNA data and Drug data do not come off the same instrument.
6. It can take 40 people 6 months to do the work one CSI does in an hour.
5. Despite the fact that CSI solves 100% of the cases, the crime rate in Las Vegas doesn’t drop.
4. We have bright, buzzing fluorescent lights instead of sexy blue lighting.
3. Proper crime scene attire is tyvek gowns and latex gloves, not leather pants and high heels.
2. Not enough underwear
1. YOU CANT GET DNA RESULTS IN AN HOUR!!!!!!! (Pound on desk and speak through clenched teeth for effect!)

M. Frank Shonberger

Related blog HERE:


  1. […] here: My Job On TV No tag for this […]

    Pingback by My Job On TV | DNA Evidence Monitor — Sunday, 20, July, 2008 @ 21:50 | Reply

  2. La Belle Bianca wishes to bless your frustrated bones, Monsieur le Spécialiste en Médecine Légale! (But seriously, mon ami, can you not put the rush on that DNA?)

    Comment by Bianca Castafiore — Monday, 21, July, 2008 @ 00:25 | Reply

  3. I am a serious Vincent D’Onofrio fan myself.

    I am a professor of government & criminal justice and I have to remind my students that they will not have the budget of a single episode of C.S.I. to run their entire criminal investigation, crime lab, police force, etc.

    They look so sad. That program has definitely made criminal justice a more attractive field. Too bad they don’t show hours of surveillance work sitting in a smelly cop car, freezing, and sleepy. They don’t show the leg work.

    There are many, many nice things about Law & Order: Criminal Intent. One of the nicest lines uttered by Det. Robert Goren was something to the effect that he was going to use a detective’s best investigative tool: “his library card”.

    Nice blog. Regards.

    Comment by jaye — Monday, 21, July, 2008 @ 05:22 | Reply

  4. *ears perk*

    You’re stripping for money?

    Baybee, I gotta pocket fulla quarters for ya!

    (Esp. if you’re wearing the hells and leather britches.)


    Comment by crankyprof — Monday, 21, July, 2008 @ 08:44 | Reply

  5. Oh come on, everyone knows that the show is an hour, but it has TIME LAPSE in the show which counts towards the time it takes to get DNA results.

    Comment by Mary Graves — Monday, 21, July, 2008 @ 09:45 | Reply

  6. Maybe D’Onofrio went to a special school…?

    Comment by Jean — Monday, 21, July, 2008 @ 11:06 | Reply

  7. Cranky–most people pay me to keep my clothes on. I’m an anti-stripper.

    Mary–when the DNA is back when the body is still open on the table (and it’s not green and stinky) I throw things at the screen.

    And yes, the budget that C.S.I. has is much, much, more than I ever did. One lab we’d routinely run out of cash around Thanksgiving, and have to beg the commissioners for more money. Or we’d end up holding bodies hostage for six weeks or so until the next infusion of cash came in. Sheesh.

    Comment by williamthecoroner — Monday, 21, July, 2008 @ 12:08 | Reply

  8. Have you also noticed that every firearm ever used in the show is registered, and to the current owner?

    Comment by BobG — Monday, 21, July, 2008 @ 12:33 | Reply

  9. Great post. I’d love to have you on my blog, The Graveyard Shift, as a guest someday soon. I know the writers and readers would love to hear from you. Thoughts?

    Lee Lofland
    The Graveyard Shift

    Comment by leelofland — Monday, 21, July, 2008 @ 16:33 | Reply

  10. Maybe you should watch a show about strippers. Something tells me that they do not have their job as misrepresented as others.

    D’Onofrio is a good actor, but it would be nice if they didn’t give him incorrect information to make his “Aha!” conclusions about who did what. They are probably incorrect, more often than they are correct, but the writers think that they add drama. When the main character is supposed to be super duper smart, but is saying things that are dumb, it kind of detracts from the show. Unless it is something like Monk, done for comedy.

    Comment by Rogue Medic — Tuesday, 22, July, 2008 @ 12:43 | Reply

  11. wow…!
    great post!
    at least your lab is better than csi lab in my country

    Comment by julianne indiana — Friday, 17, July, 2009 @ 00:20 | Reply

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