You’re busy and only have time for so many murders per week. So which TV procedurals are actually worth your time? We consulted the plot descriptions for this week’s grisliest dramas and, below, offer our best advice on how to manage your viewing schedule.
Law & Order: SVU (NBC), “True Believers” (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.)
“A young music student is raped at gunpoint in her own apartment, but with her help, the SVU squad makes a quick arrest. Bureau Chief Mike Cutter takes over the case when he finds that opposing counsel is high-profile defense attorney Bayard Ellis. As Ellis works to undermine their police work and damage the victim’s credibility, the detectives take the stand to prove they have more than just a he-said, she-said case.”
Have you ever seen an episode of Law & Order: SVU? You have seen this episode of Law & Order: SVU.
NCIS (CBS), “Honor” (Tuesdays at 9 p.m.)
“The NCIS team must determine whether a dishonorably discharged Marine is the target of an international set-up or if he committed murder.”
“International set-up,” you might be thinking. “Sounds promising!” Well, this is where the wisdom and experience of the veteran procedural watcher comes in handy. First: Can we really trust network television to pull of an ambitious, nuanced, multi-part Marine conspiracy in an hour, minus the time for all the prescription drug-medication commercials? Second: Is there anything here to suggest the murder will be anything more than your traditional, everyday gun death? Let’s move on.
CSI: Miami (CBS), “Sinner Takes All” (Sundays at 10 p.m.)
“A high stakes poker game is disrupted by a masked assassin, leaving one player dead and the CSIs baffled.“
Not much to work with here, either. Most likely, we get a door kicked in, some scattered poker chips, hopefully a few shotgun blasts. Slips in to DVR territory, though, to the extremely unlikely possibility the robbery looks more or less like that time Omar jacked Marlo at a poker game.
Criminal Minds (CBS), “Epilogue” (Wednesdays at 9 p.m.)
“The BAU search California’s Angeles National Forest after a number of bodies mysteriously turn up in the mountain lakes there. Zach Filkins from the hit music group OneRepublic guest stars as a forest ranger.”
A number of corpses turning up in mountain lakes? That’s possibly a Contagion-style disease, or maybe just your garden variety mass murder by some bearded-psycho recluse; either option has the potential for gnarly dead bodies. Points off, though, for the fact that CBS couldn’t even afford to get the lead singer from OneRepublic.
Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), “Ka Iwi Kapu” (Mondays at 10 p.m.)
“When the Five-0s investigate the murder of a young couple filming a spooky documentary about a traditional Hawaiian burial site, they are threatened by a drifter who puts a curse on Danny. Robert Englund (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”) guest stars as the drifter. “
The “haunted burial ground” thing is kind of groan-inducing, but Freddy Krueger, multiple homicides, and the phrase “spooky documentary” do enough for us to recommend this. RIP spooky documentarians.
CSI (CBS), “Freaks & Geeks” (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.)
“When a Jane Doe is found near the freakish attractions of a 19th-century-inspired traveling sideshow, the team investigates a cast of unusual characters.”
In 1932, the movie Freaks — a now infamous cult classic set in a traveling circus and featuring a cast of actors with various disabilities once paraded as entertainment — was released. In 2011, CSI will do an episode set at a sideshow where the most extreme sight will probably be something along the lines of a guy with really bushy eyebrows.
The Mentalist (CBS), “Blinking Red Light” (Thursdays at 10 p.m.)
“The search for a serial killer hits close to home for Jane when he encounters a blogger who has devoted his life to finding the killer.”
Bloggers on TV! Always a guaranteed good time. Cop: “How are we ever going to catch the Sycamore Assassin with you sitting here on your computer”? Blogger: “I’m monitoring the hyperlink activity in the South Korean chat boards. Add that data spectrum to site meter counter and my updated RSS live blog feed … and we’ve got your killer, detective.” [adjusts sweatpants]
CSI: NY (CBS), “Crushed” (Fridays at 9 p.m.)
“When news of a high school house party goes viral, resulting in overcrowding, a collapsed porch and a teenage girl’s death, the CSIs must use social media to uncover the truth about how she died.”
Oh, wow. Even better than bloggers on TV: social-network plotlines on TV! Unless Aaron Sorkin ghost-wrote this episode, it’s going to be a monster.
Body of Proof (ABC), “Hard Knocks” (Tuesday at 10 p.m.)
“When a popular 17-year-old high school student is found dead after a rave, the team must decipher various unknown drugs in his system and multiple bruises to figure out the cause of death. “
A rave?! This week, to our great delight, procedurals are really into make-believe youth culture.
Blue Bloods (CBS), “Lonely Hearts Club” (Fridays at 10 p.m.)
“Jackie goes undercover as an escort when she and Danny track down a serial killer who is murdering prostitutes in hotel rooms.”
Gotta be honest: before we saw this logline, we had no idea Tom Selleck still had a show on TV. Best way to get our attention, though? Prostitute murderer, of course. Good luck out there as a cop hooker, Jackie; we’ll be watching.