The FBI estimates that there are approximately 200 serial killers roaming the United States at any given time. Unfortunately for the cast of The Inside, about 195 of them happen to be living in Los Angeles, as seemingly each episode is about a different serial killer.

Apparently, someone at Fox has determined that viewers want yet another version of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, because that is what this show is. Cops stumble upon horrific crime scenes, do a little sleuthing and, with the aid of modern technology, catch the bad guys. Whoop-de-shit.

I suppose the one good thing about this show is that it’s graphic depictions of violence and infrequent yet gratuitous sexual content continue to desensitize soccer moms and Rosie O’Donnell types across America, all while John Ashcroft sits at home masturbating as he imagines the day when the networks are forced to air government-sponsored Christian educational programming 24/7. Cop shows have come a long way since the days of Miami Vice, and thanks to shows like The Inside, things can only continue to get better (or worse, if you’re one of those censorship Nazis).

My biggest beef with the show is the lack of realism. I’m not one of those armchair forensic scientist nerds watching from home who complain that shows like CSI: Miami simply invent forensic technology when convenient for the plot, although The Inside probably does that too. No, I’m talking about the liberties the writers take when portraying cops as intelligent. These agents literally walk into a crime scene, instantly stumble upon a key piece of evidence, immediately piece together a rather outlandish theory of what happened (that always ends up being correct), and succeed in catching the bad guys, all within a cozy 42 minute timeframe.

Now, everyone knows cops in real life are stupid. These are the guys who, unable to get a job cleaning toilets at Walmart, decided to take the civil service exam that any illegal immigrant could ace. Granted, these are FBI agents we are talking about, but if they were really as smart as this show portrays them to be, those 200 serial killers out there right now wouldn’t be there. It certainly wouldn’t have taken decades for them to catch BTK, who like many serial killers was caught only because he practically turned himself in.

Of course, CSI and all of its clones have to have ultra-smart cops, or their crimes would never be solved, portraying the police as the incompetent buffoons they really are. Other aspects stolen from shows like CSI include creating “suspense” by placing the star, Special Agent Rebecca Locke (Rachel Nichols, any relation to terrorist Terry Nichols?) in danger, only to be saved at the last moment. Adding to the “conflict” is her troubled past, which she keeps hidden from her fellow agents. It turns out she was a kidnap victim as a child, was held for nine months, and is determined to remind the viewers of this fact every 5 seconds via thousands of flashbacks. It’s a great device to get the audience emotionally attached to her, or it would be if it weren’t totally ineffective, and frankly by this point in the season I just want to see her naked already.

So there you have it. The show is a rip-off of every other forensic drama on TV right now, and like all of them, the bad guys never win. The Inside’s only redeeming value that has me turning in each week is the star, bodacious babe Rachel Nichols. She doesn’t wear revealing clothing often, opting instead for a very professional black pants suit that still manages to show off her voluptuous curvature. And occasionally, the clothes do come off. Like always, Fox knows what the men in the audience want to see (Jonny, could you insert gorilla noises here?).

Review Posted: 7.18.05