Crime, the body and the truth : understanding the shift towards forensic science in television crime drama with the CSI-franchise
This thesis investigates the shift towards the use of forensic science in crime drama by combining an examination of the British national and historical contexts with a close textual analysis and content analysis of the three series of the CSI-franchise which were shown in Britain on the terrestrial broadcaster Five. The thesis describes how this shift occurred and draws attention to parallel developments towards a greater visibility of body traumas in medical dramas and documentaries which situates CSI in a tradition of programming. The analysis of the franchise highlights that CSI locates the truth about crime in a world a priori rather than in the statements of relatives and friends of victims and suspects. Furthermore, it allows viewers to participate in the multi-sensory experience of the investigation by engaging the viewer’s body physically. Truth, therefore, is conceptualised as much more certain and objective than in traditional crime drama. Despite similarities in the franchise, the detailed analysis reveals that there are differences in the series which arise out of their different incentives during the investigations. While CSI: Crime Scene Investigation celebrates the sciences by putting them at the centre of both the series’ narratives and its style, CSI: Miami uses the sciences in order to highlight the suffering of the victim. Finally, CSI: NY depicts the sciences as a means to overcome the trauma of crime and presents them as a work of mourning.