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