Forensic Files
Overview
Forensic Files is an American documentary
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

-style series which reveals how forensic science is used to solve violent crimes, mysterious accidents, and even outbreaks of illness. The show is broadcast on truTV, narrated by Peter Thomas, and produced by Medstar Television
Medstar Television
Medstar Television Inc. is a television production company based in Allentown, Pennsylvania.-History:Medstar was incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania in 1981 by Paul Dowling and William Ferretti to produce medical news and health information. From the start, Medstar financed, produced and...

, in association with truTV Original Productions. It has broadcast over 400 episodes so far since its debut on TLC in 1996 as Medical Detectives.
The series began on the TLC Network
TLC (TV channel)
TLC is an American cable TV specialty channel which initially focused on educational content. Since 1991 TLC has been owned by Discovery Communications, the same company that operates the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and The Science Channel, as well as other learning-themed networks...

 in
April 1996 as Medical Detectives.
Encyclopedia
Forensic Files is an American documentary
Documentary film
Documentary films constitute a broad category of nonfictional motion pictures intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction or maintaining a historical record...

-style series which reveals how forensic science is used to solve violent crimes, mysterious accidents, and even outbreaks of illness. The show is broadcast on truTV, narrated by Peter Thomas, and produced by Medstar Television
Medstar Television
Medstar Television Inc. is a television production company based in Allentown, Pennsylvania.-History:Medstar was incorporated in the state of Pennsylvania in 1981 by Paul Dowling and William Ferretti to produce medical news and health information. From the start, Medstar financed, produced and...

, in association with truTV Original Productions. It has broadcast over 400 episodes so far since its debut on TLC in 1996 as Medical Detectives.

Production and broadcast history

The series began on the TLC Network
TLC (TV channel)
TLC is an American cable TV specialty channel which initially focused on educational content. Since 1991 TLC has been owned by Discovery Communications, the same company that operates the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and The Science Channel, as well as other learning-themed networks...

 in
April 1996 as Medical Detectives. Old episodes of Medical Detectives now air on Tru TV under the Forensic Files label. Overseas, the show airs under these two titles, and others, on various channels in over 100 countries. It is distributed by CABLEready.

Premiering just as the O. J. Simpson murder trial
O. J. Simpson murder case
The O. J. Simpson murder case was a criminal trial held in Los Angeles County, California Superior Court from January 29 to October 3, 1995. Former American football star and actor O. J...

 had focused attention on the world of DNA and forensics, Medical Detectives became a hit. It was one of the first of the popular forensic science shows. A few years later, Court TV acquired rights to broadcast the show and it quickly became the cornerstone of their primetime schedule, increasing its annual production run to 42 episodes. The show was retained after the network was renamed TruTV in 2008.

The show was so successful that, in 2002, NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 aired it as a summer replacement series, one of the first times a show produced for cable was aired by a broadcast network in prime-time.

In 2009, truTV's sister network Turner Network Television
Turner Network Television
Turner Network Television is an American cable television channel created by media mogul Ted Turner and currently owned by the Turner Broadcasting System division of Time Warner...

 ("TNT") began airing episodes in HD
High-definition television
High-definition television is video that has resolution substantially higher than that of traditional television systems . HDTV has one or two million pixels per frame, roughly five times that of SD...

 on Wednesday nights for the month of December.

In 2010, Andrew Breitbart
Andrew Breitbart
Andrew Breitbart is an American publisher, commentator for the Washington Times, author, an occasional guest commentator on various news programs who has served as an editor for the Drudge Report website...

's blog-site "Big Hollywood" named Forensic Files as "the best true-crime reality show." "The program never veers from being both compassionate and professional," wrote editor John Nolte. "What the producers do so well is structure these forensic mysteries in a way that holds your attention with the hook of wondering of how the bad guy will be apprehended. Dare I say, it’s the best show on television."

The vast majority of the shows are in a half-hour format. However, some hour-long specials have been produced. Several of these have re-investigated famous cases such as The Norfolk Four
The Norfolk Four
The Norfolk Four are Derek Tice, Danial Williams, Joseph J. Dick Jr. and Eric C. Wilson. They are four of the five men convicted in the brutal rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko in 1997 in Norfolk, Virginia. The convictions of the four were largely based on confessions made by the men, which...

, or even historic murders such as the Lindbergh kidnapping
Lindbergh kidnapping
The kidnapping of Charles Augustus Lindbergh, Jr., was the abduction of the son of aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. The toddler, 18 months old at the time, was abducted from his family home in East Amwell, New Jersey, near the town of Hopewell, New Jersey, on the evening of...

 and the John F. Kennedy assassination
John F. Kennedy assassination
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas...

.

As of August 2011, production on new episodes is now on hiatus, however older episodes will begin airing on Lifetime in September 2011 under the Medical Detectives moniker, as TruTV currently holds rights to the Forensic Files name.

"Weird science"

The show helped pioneer documentary style crime-science shows. The show's official web site says it profiles "puzzling, often baffling cases whose riddles are ultimately solved by forensic detection." The cases and people are real. Perhaps surprisingly, DNA testing is rarely focused on. While ballistics
Ballistics
Ballistics is the science of mechanics that deals with the flight, behavior, and effects of projectiles, especially bullets, gravity bombs, rockets, or the like; the science or art of designing and accelerating projectiles so as to achieve a desired performance.A ballistic body is a body which is...

, hair analysis, and fingerprint
Fingerprint
A fingerprint in its narrow sense is an impression left by the friction ridges of a human finger. In a wider use of the term, fingerprints are the traces of an impression from the friction ridges of any part of a human hand. A print from the foot can also leave an impression of friction ridges...

 comparisons do turn up, the show seems to prefer unusual evidence such as animal hairs, plant analysis, or arson
Arson
Arson is the crime of intentionally or maliciously setting fire to structures or wildland areas. It may be distinguished from other causes such as spontaneous combustion and natural wildfires...

 investigation. Scientists and forensic experts in many fields are interviewed.

Not every case is a crime. In some cases, the investigation reveals that suspects are innocent, and the death was an accident or suicide. Several shows have profiled people who have been jailed for or convicted of a crime, and who were ultimately exonerated by forensic evidence.

Although Medical Detectives also showed how outbreaks of mysterious illnesses were tracked (such as the Hantavirus
Hantavirus
Hantaviruses are negative sense RNA viruses in the Bunyaviridae family. Humans may be infected with hantaviruses through rodent bites, urine, saliva or contact with rodent waste products...

 and Legionellosis
Legionellosis
Legionellosis is a potentially fatal infectious disease caused by gram negative, aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Over 90% of legionellosis cases are caused by Legionella pneumophila, a ubiquitous aquatic organism that thrives in temperatures between , with an optimum temperature...

), most of those have been dropped in favor of criminal cases (and occasionally civil cases) on TruTV.

Show format

The show takes a "whodunit
Whodunit
A whodunit or whodunnit is a complex, plot-driven variety of the detective story in which the puzzle is the main feature of interest. The reader or viewer is provided with clues from which the identity of the perpetrator of the crime may be deduced before the solution is revealed in the final...

" approach, making each case a mystery to be solved. Every half-hour episode follows one case from initial investigation until conviction, acquittal, or some other legal resolution. Pathologists, medical examiners, police officers, detectives, prosecutors, defense attorneys, friends and families of victims or sometimes even the suspects themselves are all interviewed about their roles.

Video of the lab tests is shot in a modernistic film noir
Film noir
Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classic film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s...

 style, in dark, moodily lit settings with odd, glowing colors. The crimes and parts of the investigation are re-enacted with actors in dramatic recreations. These recreations are indicated by a change in video style. In earlier episodes they were blurry and black & white, and some were shot on film, while the rest of the show was shot videotape. More current shows use video recreations in color, with letterboxing and a 'fuzzy' look. These recreations sometimes include alternate versions of the crime, which are eventually disproved by the science.This technique would later be appropriated, in a modified form, by the hit series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is an American crime drama television series, which premiered on CBS on October 6, 2000. The show was created by Anthony E. Zuiker and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer...

-- essentially a fictionalized big-budget version of Forensic Files. During the original run of the show as Medical Detectives, eerie vocal music was matched with the recreations in order to create a frightening atmosphere. This specific effect was discontinued after the move to Court TV.

For privacy considerations, names of some victims and their families are changed, and case evidence featured within the show is re-created to protect true identities, that is, unless, consent is given, by the persons who are being spoken to, that the show is allowed to use the family's (or families') real name(s).

In 2006 Forensic Files "Advanced" episodes began to air. This format takes previously released episodes and adds random extra bits of information related to the case previously left out. These bits of info are in the "pop-up" format reminiscent of VH1
VH1
VH1 or Vh1 is an American cable television network based in New York City. Launched on January 1, 1985 in the old space of Turner Broadcasting's short-lived Cable Music Channel, the original purpose of the channel was to build on the success of MTV by playing music videos, but targeting a slightly...

's Pop-Up Video
Pop-up Video
Pop Up Video is a VH1 television show that "pops up" bubbles — officially called "info nuggets" — containing trivia, witticisms and borderline sexual innuendos throughout music videos. The show was created by Woody Thompson and Tad Low and premiered October 27, 1996. For a time, it was the...

, and often add interesting facts related to the case and those involved. These facts often have the ironic or "wow" element to them.

Other media

"The Official Forensic Files Casebook" was published in 2004. The book recaps and expounds on some episodes, explains how the show is produced, and details why some proposed episodes were turned down. In it, the show's Executive Producer/Writer Paul Dowling says he was inspired to create the show because he had been present in Philadelphia during the outbreak of Legionellosis
Legionellosis
Legionellosis is a potentially fatal infectious disease caused by gram negative, aerobic bacteria belonging to the genus Legionella. Over 90% of legionellosis cases are caused by Legionella pneumophila, a ubiquitous aquatic organism that thrives in temperatures between , with an optimum temperature...

 in 1976, as well as by the murder of Helle Crafts
Helle Crafts
Helle Crafts was a flight attendant famous for her brutal murder at the hands of her husband, Richard Crafts, an airline pilot and special constable. Her murder is sometimes called the "Woodchipper Murder" because of the method in which Richard Crafts disposed of her body...

. The CDC
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services headquartered in Druid Hills, unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, in Greater Atlanta...

's legionellosis investigation eventually became an episode of Medical Detectives, while the Crafts case was filmed as the series' pilot episode.

In 2004, Court TV
Court TV
truTV is an American cable television network owned by Turner Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Time Warner. The network launched as Court TV in 1991, changing to truTV in 2008...

 released a limited number of episodes on DVD. As of June 26, 2009, Amazon.com says the DVD has been discontinued by the manufacturer.

In August 2011, TGG Direct released 8 DVD collections each containing 12 episodes. These collections include "Historic Cases," "Convictions Overturned," "Death By Poison," "Crimes of Passion," "Kidnapping Cases," "Medical Mysteries," "Serial Killers" and "Sex Crimes."

Cast

Every episode of Forensic Files has been narrated by 87 year old Peter Thomas, a well-known voice-over
Voice-over
Voice-over is a production technique where a voice which is not part of the narrative is used in a radio, television production, filmmaking, theatre, or other presentations...

 talent.

Each episode has a new 'cast', including interviews with witnesses, investigators, and forensic scientists. Many of the world's most well-known forensic analysts have appeared on the show (often in more than one episode), including Henry Lee, Cyril Wecht
Cyril Wecht
Dr. Cyril Harrison Wecht is an American forensic pathologist. He has been a consultant in numerous high-profile cases, but is perhaps best known for his criticism of the Warren Commission's findings concerning the assassination of John F...

, William M. Bass
William M. Bass
William Marvin Bass III is an American forensic anthropologist, best known for his research on human osteology and human decomposition. He has also assisted federal, local, and non-U.S. authorities in the identification of human remains...

, Alec Jeffreys
Alec Jeffreys
Sir Alec John Jeffreys, FRS is a British geneticist, who developed techniques for DNA fingerprinting and DNA profiling which are now used all over the world in forensic science to assist police detective work, and also to resolve paternity and immigration disputes...

, Skip Palenik
Skip Palenik
Skip Palenik is an American analytical microscopist, forensic scientist, lecturer, and author. He is most famous for providing trace evidence analysis and forensic microscopy for many high-profile cases including the Oklahoma City Bombing, Unabomber investigation, Hillside Strangler investigation...

, and Richard Souviron.

For the dramatic recreations, "look-a-like" actors and models resembling the main figures in the story are found through a casting company in Allentown, PA, or through "open" casting calls in New York and other cities.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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