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Things I Learned From Watching Cop Shows - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Things I Learned From Watching Cop Shows [Jan. 4th, 2015|07:47 am]
Marissa Lingen

1. If someone close to you is brutally murdered and you feel the urge to ask the police, “Do I need a lawyer?”, YOU NEED A LAWYER. Possibly even if they are gently murdered.

2. All people in the British Isles get their exercise by running very close to the edge of cliffs. Nobody in the UK or Ireland goes to the gym or runs on pavement or in a forest or something. Always a cliff, usually with no guard rail.

3. It is totally normal for a very recent widow or widower to make sexual advances to a police officer or other investigating detective. No one finds this suspicious. They should, of course, because it nearly always turns out to be relevant to the case. But apparently there are tons of cases we don’t see in which, “My spouse died this morning, helloooooo Officer Friendly!” is one of the stages of grief that Kubler-Ross missed, because no one ever goes, “hmm, that’s weird, possibly I should consider why this is happening other than my incredible personal magnetism.”

4. When people say that poker is a game that relies on skill and the better player will win in the long-term, they mean that ten to twenty hands should do it. It’s best if you form an elaborate plan for catching murderers (or other criminals!) that relies on someone on your investigative team winning one particular hand at one particular moment, with no way to cheat with the deck or dealer. That should be fine.

5. Boxing, on the other hand, is something that boxers don’t spend years training to do well. You can throw a random tough person at boxing and have them win at a crucial moment to catch a bad guy. Tracking down evidence is usually secondary to this.

6. If you worry enough about doing the right thing, no one will care that you never actually do it.

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux


[User Picture]From: cakmpls
2015-01-04 01:35 pm (UTC)
#1 is valid no matter why the police want to talk to you. Seriously.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-04 01:36 pm (UTC)
It's very convenient for conversation of characters and speed of plotline that no one seems to know this. But also a bad precedent to set for people.
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[User Picture]From: ckd
2015-01-04 01:59 pm (UTC)
It's a great mindset to propagate...if you're the police (who investigate crimes) or a district attorney (who prosecute the offenders).
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[User Picture]From: cakmpls
2015-01-04 02:27 pm (UTC)
I agree. I want to scream at the TV sometimes.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-04 02:42 pm (UTC)
(This is what I get for posting early: I meant conservation of characters. Although the conversations are easier to follow with a limited number of known characters.)
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[User Picture]From: blue_hat_guru
2015-01-05 02:28 am (UTC)
Though, there may be funding issues with acquiring one.

Probably not for most characters that matter in most cop shows.
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[User Picture]From: redbird
2015-01-06 01:46 am (UTC)
If the choice is talking to them without a lawyer, or not talking, you're probably better off not talking to them.
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[User Picture]From: sartorias
2015-01-04 03:17 pm (UTC)
Number three cracked me up. (That is also the second most common reason I turn the channel, the first being serial killers.)
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[User Picture]From: zelda888
2015-01-04 06:03 pm (UTC)
Not limited to widows, either. Every time Inspector Morse and some witness/acquaintance-of-the-deceased start exchanging Looks, we turn to each other and chorus, "She did it!"
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-04 06:14 pm (UTC)
Morse is one of my prime examples. He should use his powers of "being attracted to murderers" consciously.
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[User Picture]From: anef
2015-01-04 06:56 pm (UTC)
You have to understand that British coppers are very shy, and it is anathema for them to run in places where people might see them wearing lycra, and point and laugh. Hence deserted towpaths, underpasses or streets after midnight are also permissible running places. Their only other hobbies are drinking and listening to opera.

Incidentally, I think there is a different reason why Scandinavian detectives always hunt through deserted warehouses at night using only a torch. This is because Scandinavians are very ecologically conscious and do not want to waste electricity. There may even be a rule about not lighting warehouses at night. Of course it probably makes the working day very short at certain times of year.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-04 07:02 pm (UTC)
That's very ecologically considerate! Do they learn this in police training, do you think, or is it something they are each inspired in their hearts to do?
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[User Picture]From: asakiyume
2015-01-04 10:40 pm (UTC)
“My spouse died this morning, helloooooo Officer Friendly!” is one of the stages of grief that Kubler-Ross missed

I think you should write to her publisher and see if they can add that stage. I think it's crucial for understanding a normal progression through grief.

And No. 6. Yeah. That one bugs me tremendously. A moment of angst removes all barriers--now torture, intimidate, and menace freely. For Great Justice.
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[User Picture]From: laurel
2015-01-05 01:41 am (UTC)
The absolute best bit of TV (or anything) IMHO on the subject of #1 is from "The Documentary" episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. It's from a documentary within the show (a photographer & filmmaker had been trailing the detectives and recording stuff). Writing of the episode is credited to Jim Yoshimura, Tom Fontana, and Eric Overmyer with Overmyer doing the teleplay, but IIRC some of the stuff in this scene is lifted from David Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

Anyway. I won't embed the video clip lest it muck up formatting here in your comments, but here's the scene on YouTube. (No worries re spoilers or anything, it's the detectives talking about one's right to remain silent, etc.) Features Andre Braugher, Kyle Secor, Clark Johnson, Reed Diamond, Richard Belzer, and Melissa Leo.

I should just revisit "The Documentary" since it's a New Year's episode. Or just because. Though this is one of the episodes I know pretty much by heart.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2015-01-05 02:42 am (UTC)
That was interesting, thanks.

Knowing an episode by heart is no reason not to watch it. See, for example, "An Echolls Family Christmas."
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[User Picture]From: carbonel
2015-01-05 06:26 am (UTC)
Another thing I learned from watching cop shows is that the police are allowed to lie to suspects, and therefore you should not believe a word they say. Especially when they say they're trying to help you. This is probably closely related to #1.
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[User Picture]From: sam_t
2015-01-05 02:53 pm (UTC)
It is a little-known fact that the British Isles are in fact entirely composed of coastline. This is why it takes so long to drive anywhere and why it is so hard to avoid flooding. The folding required to produce this unusual geography is thought to cause occasional non-linear travel: see, for example, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, or watch Inspector Morse in the company of anyone who knows Oxford.
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[User Picture]From: redbird
2015-01-06 01:48 am (UTC)
This may be why "How long is the coast of Great Britain?" is a subject that was worth a paper in a major peer-reviewed journal.
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