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TV Series Review

If Jerry Bruckheimer does many more television shows, they’re going to have to name a network after him. His production credits already include CSI, CSI: Miami, Without a Trace, The Amazing Race and now Cold Case, yet another procedural cop series that offers up-to-the-minute thrills by blowing the dust off of decades-old, unsolved murders. They’re called “cold cases” and Philadelphia detective Lilly Rush (Minority Report’s Kathryn Morris) finds herself inexorably drawn to them. To breathe fresh life into them. To resurrect the passion, conflict and sorrow they caused. And to put killers behind bars.

Time heals all wounds, they say. Try telling that to a woman who, when she was five, found her mom blown to bits in the laundry room. Nobody’s ever been convicted, or even arrested for the death—until Lilly unearths her case. And when Lilly latches onto a new challenge, she never backs down. “I thought things would be different by now, that I’d be different,” a family member of a murder victim tells Lilly. “Time makes things worse, not better.” The detective’s response? “Maybe time also finds the truth.”

A side benefit of a series that continually shows old crimes brought into the light of day and forgotten felons facing hard time is that viewers are reminded there’s no statute of limitations on pain. What we do affects others, sometimes for a very long time. It also serves as a sobering reminder that a person’s sins will surely find them out (Num. 32:23).

The Cold Case premiere contained some of prime time’s harshest language, but subsequent episodes have included virtually no profanity at all. Sexual content is an issue inasmuch as it relates to crimes (one plotline examines the habits of a serial rapist), not the personal lives of the cast. Violence appears in stylized flashbacks designed to invoke a melancholy nostalgia as they illustrate brutality. Specific examples include explosions, gunfire, rape, strangulation and vicious beatings (the series has developed a fixation on angry men who abuse and hate women, which magnifies Lilly’s achievements as a female officer).

Cold Case is Without a Trace part deux, not CSI: 1978. For that families should be grateful, but still mindful of sobering subject matter, smatterings of foul language, images of drug abuse and flashes of violence.

Episodes Reviewed: Sept. 28, Oct. 5, 12, 26, Nov. 2, 2003

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Steven Isaac

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