A baby smug­gling ring hold­ing baby auc­tions for baby-col­lec­tors? Bet­ter call the cy­ber­crime unit

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - PATRICK FREYNE -

In CSI: Cy­ber (RTE2, Tues) FBI Spe­cial Agent Avery Ryan (Pa­tri­cia Ar­quette) plays a be­havioural psy­chol­o­gist who heads up a team of com­puter boffins who fight “cy­ber­crime”.

What type of cy­ber­crime? Well, the writ­ers are clearly al­ready an­tic­i­pat­ing they might run out of ideas. “Any crimes in­volv­ing elec­tronic de­vices is by def­i­ni­tion ‘cy­ber’,” Avery tells her boss, a lit­tle de­fen­sively, fore­shad­ow­ing episodes in which they in­ves­ti­gate shoplifted iPads or where some­one gets beaten to death with a tran­sis­tor ra­dio.

Avery’s team in­cludes a chubby nerd who’s good at com­put­ers and prone to shoot­ing fin­ger guns, a sassy punky broad who likes to high-five and a hack­ing ex-con called Nel­son who craves ap­proval and ex­po­si­tion (most of his dia­logue could be re­placed with the words “Please ex­plain the plot to me”). The team also in­cludes Daw­son from Daw­son’s Creek (James Van Der Beek). I’m not sure why.

Like other con­tem­po­rary in­ves­ti­ga­tors, Avery is “icy”. “Can my char­ac­ter be icy?” I imag­ine Ar­quette ask­ing. “I just won an Os­car. I don’t feel like do­ing much act­ing.”

But she also has a se­cret sor­row and an Ahab-like ob­ses­sion with foil­ing cy­ber­crime. Why? A hacker ate her leg. Or a crate of com­put­ers crushed her mother. Or she re­ally likes small in­de­pen­dent record stores and re­sents the in­ter­net. She re­veals the real rea­son for her ob­ses­sion at the end of the show whilst hav­ing a pho­to­genic brood at the Lin­coln Me­mo­rial, but by that point I wasn’t lis­ten­ing. It had some­thing to do with com­put­ers.

The cy­ber­crime, in this episode, is baby theft. A baby smug­gling ring is hack­ing into peo­ple’s baby-cams and hold­ing baby auc­tions so that ne­far­i­ous baby-col­lec­tors can har­vest their sweet dim­ples. It is an un­con­vinc­ing crime, but it leads to some ex­cel­lent “WHERE’S MY BABY!” act­ing from the actress play­ing the mother and it al­lows Avery to hint at her se­cret sor­row (Did she buy an iPod5 not re­al­is­ing the iPod6 was around the cor­ner? Was she once snubbed in Pete’s of Par­nell Street?).

Any­way, Avery fig­ures out that this baby’s fa­ther isn’t the real fa­ther and they do some com­put­er­ing and dis­cover the iden­tity of the real fa­ther. He, it turns out, has bought the baby from the smug­glers – but it is the wrong baby. This is so con­fus­ing. “Just take the baby,” I shout. “One baby is as good as an­other.”

Even more con­fus­ingly, the team nick­name ex-con Nel­son “Baby­face”, lead­ing me to hope they’re go­ing to dress him in a bon­net, nappy and bib for an elab­o­rate baby-smug­gler sting. They do not. In­stead they do more com­put­er­ing and track down two red­neck baby smug- glers, who are shot by a man on a mo­tor­bike, who is shot by Daw­son from Daw­son’s Creek.

Th­ese cops are very well re­sourced and have a state-ofthe-art con­trol cen­tre with mas­sive flatscreen mon­i­tors. In­stead of search­ing the ac­tual corpses of the baby smug­glers for ev­i­dence, they project CGI holo­graphic pro­jec­tions of their corpses and stroll around them be­ing pleased with them­selves. It looks very ex­pen­sive. No-one says “You know, if we didn’t have a holo­graphic corpse pro­jec­tor, this area could prob­a­bly af­ford a good af­ter-school pro­gramme for de­prived kids.”

At this stage there are three ba­bies miss­ing (though this, we’re told, could rise to 45,000 if all sim­i­lar baby-cams are hacked). Are they con­nected? Do the ba­bies know each other? What did they do for a living? Are the ba­bies in on it like in (spoiler alert) The Mur­der of Roger Ack­royd? Will a baby stroll out do­ing a slow hand­clap, say­ing “Fi­nally, of­fi­cers! You have rum­bled my scheme. I was be­hind this all along. Let me tell you about my plan.” It’s pos­si­ble. Young peo­ple are very good with com­put­ers.


But no, the bad­dies turn out to be fully grown Rus­sian mob­sters (the Rus­sians are get­ting a very hard time on telly th­ese days). The fi­nal duo are caught red­handed driv­ing around with an un­li­cenced baby. They re­spond by ca­reen­ing off the road into a body of wa­ter. It’s some sort of creek. If only one of the team had a good knowl­edge of creeks. Wait! What about Daw­son? Daw­son leaps into the creek and re­trieves the baby. I knew there was a rea­son he was there.

Avery takes the baby and licks it. “This baby is 100 per cent pure with a street value of a bil­lion dol­lars,” she says. “Take it to the lab for testing.” Full dis­clo­sure: I wasn’t lis­ten­ing at this point and I don’t know much about ba­bies.

Next week: a bad­ger walks into the CSI: Cy­ber con­trol cen­tre and whis­pers: “I think I’m be­ing watched, you know, with cy­ber stuff.” Spring­watch (ev­ery evening, BBC2) sees the sur­veil­lance in­fra­struc­ture of the Bri­tish state em­ployed to pruri­ently peer into the lives of beast­ies living in Mins­mere.

In the first episode, we see a goshawk race a spar­rowhawk. We meet a sad, hap­less Stick­le­back called Simon. “I don’t like to an­thro­po­mor­phise, but take a look at his face,” says pre­sen­ter Chris Pack­ham.

We meet a bird called an av­o­cet. “The Au­drey Hep­burn of the bird world,” just as she pokes her beak into her gen­i­tals (steady on Au­drey!).

We see an is­land of cute new­born baby birds. We see a bad­ger glut­tonously eat­ing them all (“Don’t judge me!” he bel­lows. “I only had a Twix at lunch”).

We watch newts mat­ing to some rather sexy jazz (I don’t like to an­thro­po­mor­phise ei­ther - but, ooh, I say!).

Spring­watch is, as usual, bril­liant. And much bet­ter than go­ing out­side to look at ac­tual na­ture, which is of­ten wet and cov­ered in muck.

Avery takes the baby and licks it. “This baby is 100 per cent pure with a street value of a bil­lion dol­lars,” she says. “Take it to the lab for testing

Baby mon­i­tors: Van Der Beek and Ar­quette in CSI: Cy­ber

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