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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Sunday (4/5/09) 6:46pm - ... wherein Peter posts thoughts about the "CSI:  Anywhere" Sketchwar.

Here's my commentary for the latest round of Sketchwar, which had the theme "CSI:  Anywhere."

"CSI:  Sesame Street"
Well, first off, setting a CSI on Sesame Street is the best idea any of us had this week, and all the muppets are perfectly cast.  (I can only hope that someday we see Sam the American Eagle as a gruff police sergeant.)  And taking us all the way through a CSI case was pretty ballsy.

In the end, I couldn't follow the case in question ("Okay, there's a book, and that's somehow -- and, wait, they find the killer dead?  What?"), but the individual scenes ranged from "moderately funny" to "very funny", and they felt like the sorts of scenes you'd expect from a bland CBS procedural.  The potshot at TV-drama photo enhancements was good.  The runner about Cookie Monster trying to quit his various vices was good.  The nod to "one of these things is not like the others" was great.

So:  plus points for funny, minus points for plot.

"CSI:  Supposably"
And then this one goes the opposite way:  it attends closer to carefully seeing the plot through, but that leads to a sketch that feels longer and less funny than it should be.

Then again, part of that could be that I don't follow CSI closely enough.  It looked like most of the jokes there were digs at the conventions of the show.  Some of them worked for me -- especially the "Huh?" after each of Hilario's peculiar one-liners; but others, like the physical business with forcing the door open, didn't do anything for me.  In particular, when the characters themselves call out that they're making fun of CSI ("What do you think this is?  A TV show?"), I find myself rolling my eyes a bit.

So:  not quite my thing, but I suspect a CSI buff would get a lot more out of it.

"CSI: Old Mill, North Carolina (SA-LOOT)"
Well, this is a nice change of pace.  I rarely see this sort of slightly-altered reminiscence on Sketchwar, and I'd never have expected to see such a thing on CSI week.

Honestly, I don't have much of anything helpful to say about this one.  The "reaching for a brick" button struck me as a hair too cartoonish for the realistic setting.  The Bob/Briggs exchange ("why they broke it, I think"/"There he goes again") kind of muddles things a bit; it might be clearer to have Alice be the one that's consistently amazed at the cops' incompetence, and to have Bob be the one that's consistently conciliatory.

Apart from those quibbles... no complaints.  Nice, solid little scene.

"CSI:  Alaska" parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Well that's interesting.  I don't think we've had a group of mini-sketches like this before.  This one has a nice, simple concept:  Levi Johnston kills off a series of CSI investigators.  The first two bits were pretty run-of-the-mill potshots at the right-wing -- I agree with the sentiments, but I've heard them *so many* times -- but the third one breaks the pattern in a fun way.

And yeah, the fourth one felt like the right ending for it.  So:  only the third one made me laugh, but I have to admit this is solidly constructed, and it's a neat experiment for Sketchwar.

"CSI:  Wittenberg"

So this week I set some sort of personal record for "quality differential between concept and execution."  There are a hundred million sketches you could write about a CSI team wandering through the works of Shakespeare, and... well, I didn't pick the funny one.

I got stuck on Hamlet early on, and I started planning out this whole plot where it turns out 'henbaning somebody's ear' is just an ordinary, non-fatal prank of the sort that Claudius *still* played on his older (older?) brother -- *but*, Norwegian agents had somehow pre-dosed Hamlet, Sr. with something that interacted fatally with henbane.  Result:  Claudius is wracked with guilt about regicide, the Danish state is riv'n asunder, Norwegians come in and take over.  And so it's somehow up to Horatio (nope, couldn't resist the name-coincidence) to unravel the whole thing.

Then I realized I didn't want to re-write the entirety of Hamlet this week.  So, I backed out of that plan and tried to write a quick blackout sketch that included an all-important pre-credits one-liner.

Meh.  I'm amused by Hamlet getting accused of the murder, and I'm amused at the similarity between a Caruso one-liner and a rhymed, scene-ending couplet.  I like that the ghost is fruitlessly trying to get Horatio's attention.  Apart from that?  Swing and a miss, I'm afraid.

[Side note:  I've been meaning to write sketches that would be easy to shoot or put onstage; didn't happen this week, obviously.]

[Additional side note:  this is mirrored on the Sketchwar site.]

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