Thursday, December 15, 2011


Ok, if you haven't seen the episode yet, it's titled "Genetic Disorder"
and you can view it here at So go watch it first so you
can form your own opinion, then came back here to read mine.


Alrighty then. I'll try not to give too much away of the plot and
just stick to observations about the genealogy angle.

The wife of coroner Doc Robbins reports finding a man dead
in her bed. The murder scene appears as though she and the
dead man were having an affair. It turns out that the dead man
was a professional genealogist hired by the wife. She wanted
to surprise Doc with his family tree. Eventually the investigation
turns to the dead man's recent clients and his partner, Donna
Hoppe, lends a hand.

I liked how Donna Hoppe was bright and enthusiastic
about genealogy.(The dead partner is as well,. She says that "Genealogy
was his life"),She comes on a little strong at first, instantly deducing
that Greg Sanders' last name was changed from it's Norwegian
original, but I think the writer was trying to establish a rapport between
she and Greg. This is television after all, and they do have less than an
hour to tell the story.(Too bad this wasn't a two part episode!).

Eventually the trail turns to one specific client of the dead man and when
the CSI team comes to a brick wall of sorts in their scientific pursuit, Greg
turns to Donna Hoppe for help. She takes him to a records room and with
paper county records and a newspaper article on a microfilm reader they
discover that, as in some cases, this hunt for ancestors has turned up a
painful family mystery.

I thought this episode did a good job on the genealogy related elements.
Besides avoiding some of the old cliches about genealogists, I liked how
Donna told her students to ask permission first before doing gravestone
rubbings.(Since I've never done any myself, perhaps someone who has
can comment on the method she was demonstrating).

Yes, it did seem as though she found the information for Greg lickity-split,
but they did have those little pauses between scenes to denote there was a
passage of time. And she took him to an archive to look through actual
records, and then used a microfilm reader to find the news article. Not a
computer in sight! (and this from me, who uses a computer all the time!)

There were some elements like the fancy chart which might not ring true
to life but overall it was a job well done. And that last line from Doc Robbins
is something all of us have said at one time or another when we've made
some exciting discovery in our research.

All in all, I really enjoyed this episode.

For further insight on the writing on the episode, you can read how Elizabeth
Devine was inspired by her own and co-workers' genealogy research here
at the CSI Insider Blog.


Wendy L. Callahan said...

And genealogy continues to go mainstream! Yay!

Thank you for the recap.

Michelle Goodrum said...

I love CSI but last night's episode was simply delightful! I'd love to see more.

Dorene from Ohio said...

Sorry I missed it! Great post, Bill!

Greta Koehl said...

I was so inspired by last night's episode that I put up a short post to make the case for a spinoff of this episode! What fun that would be to watch!

Jenny Lanctot said...

Great synopsis, Bill!

Greta, I would love a spin-off ... except that it would be one more show to DVR (because I already have SO much time to watch all the other ones LOL)!

I really enjoyed this episode and the fact that the genealogist "stuff" was tastefully done; not overdone or hokey, but believable and sincere.

I have been kinda-sorta semi-boycotting CSI since William Petersen (Gil Grissom) left, but I may have to start watching it again.