Updated 3 November 2006. Contributions are welcome.
Proposed ident: London at night.
Also evokes a bullet through a pane of glass.
The forensics show CSI was rumoured to have a London based spinoff similar to CSI:Miami and CSI: New York, but the idea was reduced to a ’special episode’ and then dropped.
So. The gist here is to explore such a spinoff from a creative/fanfiction perspective – first goal is to produce a "writer’s bible" and some episode outlines. From then on, this could develop into a set of fan fiction, a roleplaying-by-email system, or just glorious drunken free association. It’s also an exploration of creative writing by myself – I don’t feel comfortable with straight prose and I seem to be a born conceptual architect…
Note: There seems to be a UK forensics show, Waking the Dead, but not only does it deal with slightly different subject matter, I am reliably informed it is "boring".
As this is 100% fanw*nk, we have no limitations on budget, casting, filming, episode length, or indeed sensibility.
Theme tune must, like other incarnations, be by The Who.
Similar to the other CSI settings, London is presented as a character in itself – more than other shows in fact, as London has much more history and atmospheric potential. This London is a slightly glamourised/sexed up version, combining globally recognisable elements with local detail, and also a hefty undercurrent of British eccentricity (cross reference: British fiction by the ton, from Alan Moore to C.S. Lewis). Given the recent cult/scifi success of Doctor Who, it’ll probably incorporate some of that show’s approach – but not much (cough).
Because of London’s rich culture, deep history, and global recognition, virtually every episode can have some local flavour, as well as to differentiate it from one of the American settings. Liberal amounts of UK folklore. The show is forbidden to get like bowdlerised portrayals of Britain, nor like Buffy/Doctor Who/etc.
Suggested Source Material
Well, you can’t beat Wikipedia for endless inspiring categories and topics, even if the article quality itself can be variable…
And for general UK material
The CSI Unit
London’s "CSI Unit" is brand-new, created due to the successes of the American model. The Unit is a relatively unfettered group of elite forensic analysts, given priority or important cases and a large dollop of red tape-cutting clout. There is no ‘day shift’ or ‘night shift’, but characters often find themselves stumbling around in pitch blackness when nasty cases break. There’s a slight undercurrent of "Yanks forcing their stuff on us lot", even by the CSI team themselves. Given the relative proximity of cities in the UK, the CSI Unit has jurisdiction to go outside London as reasonable.
The Unit is finalised in a hurry due to the events in the first episode, complete with CSI-trademark ludicrously futuristic equipment still in the crates from Stateside. Early episodes have subplots of dodgy gear – the fingerprint analysers ("does this do coffee?") only holds muggers from Ohio; the “spunk torches” have to run off Duracells, etc.
Grabbag of famous actors right now. Suggestions for more from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:English_actors?
played by Christopher Eccleston?
The lead character. Not a manic grinning Northerner, but a terse and quiet man (for the lead of a show) with a inner passion. If he wasn’t a CSI, he’d probably be an inspirational teacher. Possibly based on the perception of Clement Attlee.
Stan has been promoted from head forensics feller at Manchester after several exceptional cases. On the one hand, he’s pleased for the increased ability to track down murderers etc., but resents London sucking up the best resources (e.g. a promoted him and always getting the lion’s share (the UK often has a slight anti-London attitude).
Viewers get to know London through Stan, and occasionally voices London’s unpleasant side. In the first episode, he winds up very late and annoyed due to underestimating the dense, humid crush of the Underground.
Possible character arcs
- His anger at nasty crime #152 causes him to (almost) screw up procedure. He’s supposed to set an example. There are many other people who would kill for his job.
- He has an estranged son/daughter/pet dog etc. that turns out to be living in London and he never knew.
Female Second lead – Jo Lansing
Unlike Stan, Second Lead has lived in London all her life and thrives in it – even still living in a smallish flat to be closer to the cosmopolitan scene. Often has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of local buildings, the Underground, etc.
Possible character arcs
- Are Jo And Stan Gonna Get It On? No, and there are frequent allusions to how tediously boring it is for endless sex subplots to ruin drama.
- Her occasional inability to function on the job due to all-night partying.
played by James Marsters?
Psychological Expert – Not Named Yet
A ridiculously anti-American character who exists largely to wind up the American audience. Contractually obligated to go "bollocks" four times a series (that’s "season" for you lot, he’d add) .
Slightly dodgy political affiliations. MI5 are known to keep files on people, and only his unquestioned brilliance has allowed him to get "this far". Idea is to balance down-to earth True Brit without sliding into "when are they gonna bomb the White House" ranting. Perhaps he’s from Cornwall?
"What! You expect this to be all raincloak-wearing Bobbies going "Ghood Lhord Uhlive!" and shining their flashlights at ripped-up prozzies?"
Possible character arcs
Unit Liaison – Not Named Yet
played by Rik Mayall?
Rather upper class type who is the liaison between the CSI Unit and other sections in the police /government. A bit establishment. More than once he lets slip he doesn’t really care about forensics or the victims as long as he fulfills his job spec. He is not allowed to get like Wesley from Angel.
"What am I going to tell The Sun over this then? ‘Working on it’ isn’t sexy enough."
Possible character arcs
played by Dawn French?
Disturbingly cheerful and optimistic, but not comically so. Occasionally accompanies on missions.
"So, this really fell into a combine harvester? – it’d be easier to dissect a bowl of soup! Still, saves on the blender."
Another Lab Tech
A rather enthusiastic Cambridge graduate. Possibly one of those annoying short perky blonde types?
played by Windsor Davies?
CSI Unit Superior
One of those "seen it all types" with a warm human nature.
Ongoing Plot Arcs
Need a recurring theme or villain, or some source of character development. Perhaps recurring references to British folklore/history forming an overreaching arc? (Already many of the plot ideas I have revolve, unsurprisingly,around Britain’s pagan roots… )
These plot parts are sketched out in varying detail, with working names. They could easily be combined two per episode…
Pilot Episode – The World In One City
All kinds of separate places show up. This also introduces London a bit, showing characters struggling with the dense, grimy Tube. Some characters profess their love for the city-others hate the black snot and crammed squalor.
During partial demolition of the famous Elstree studios, a walled-up skeleton is discovered, wearing a ripped 1960’s miniskirt and a frayed kettle flex around its neck. Production of many programmes have to be suspended, including that of EastEnders.
The lease is expiring in 2007, and new buyers The Relevant Picture Company start to waver over the deal. It emerges that during the 60’s gangster activity related to Peggy Windsor took place somehow.
Or it could be Pinewood Studios, aksherly.
Phew, Wot A Scorcher!
An unprecedented heatwave brings chaos to the city. A guy dies on a Tube train. People die ignored in a slum tower block. Road rage hits a peak on the M25.
Meanwhile a main character finds himself being trailed by a tabloid reporter…
Rock of Ages
A diamond heist goes wrong and leads to a hostage situation. Armed coppers shoot out everyone, leaving the CSI Unit to try and reconstruct the heist. Was it an inside job?
Round the Houses
A retired window cleaner is found in Essex strangled and stabbed in the chest, with both arms broken post mortem. About a week later, an old age pensioner is found in a sink estate, with same causes of death.
Doing investigations in a commandeered smoky country pub. In that, it emerges that the window cleaner was in fact a gangster, and his father who disowned him.
Obstruction occurs due to the connections of the gangland figures.
The Setting Sun
A tabloid editor is found dead, dropped onto the pigeon spikes from several stories above. The paper they edited always took a hard right line and spoke of Britain’s grandeur – slowly falling sales forced increased sensationalism. Digging turns up he was about to be sacked for making a content gaffe that could sink the paper.
Etched in Stone (two parter)
Guest Writer: Alan Moore
A gratuitous what-the-hell-is-going-on episode linking a modern-day Jack the Ripper copycat with large amounts of wonderfully bonkers-but-strangely-plausible exposition similar to From Hell.
From The Top
Governmental interference in apparent terrorist suspects. The evidence is very circumstantial – it wouldn’t go to court in any other case, but political pressure is to convict (‘to back down now would make us seem spineless in the press’). Are we on the cusp of another Birmingham Six?
A badly-run software development house is working its staff to death – literally, as an entire sealed server room has its freon gas released. The title allusion comes from the floor-to-ceiling glass offices, which become instrumental in finding the culprit, as well as the pressure cooker atmosphere.
Something to do with the pop industry. Paedophile rings in the 1980’s?
An Oxford don big in biochemistry is found dead, in his quarters, with one of his female students. He turns out to have been a bit of a Mike Shagger who used his weighty credentials as replacement charisma in order to get impressionable young women into bed. This is one of those episodes where ten minutes from the end they realise they’ve been looking at it the wrong way – the girl was the victim, as she was an amateur pole dancer in the middle of a drugs deal. Some academic character points out the irony in that the drug was made possible by the Don’s biochemical work in the 1960’s.
Round in Circles
A tramp’s body is found on the Circle Line, having apparently been there for several days. Problem is, Circle carriages should be checked and cleaned. And would tubegoers really ignore a rotting corpse?
The body has been moved, apparently from one train to another. It turns out to be a joke by bored maintenance staff.
A 2000-year old Roman temple has been discovered whilst re-building a tower block on the outskirts of the city. Thing is, such remains should have been discovered when the previous building was made in the 1960s. A local archaeologist suffers a seemingly accidental death on the building site by falling into the foundations in the dark, however his fingernails tell a different story – he was pushed.
The Church Prison
An episode all about the increasing fundamentalist Christianity in the UK and an allusion to churches being confining spiritual prisons made from stone. Who was that bloke who started up a "I’m Jesus, eat me" cult in the 1990s?
A Hungerford massacre-style event. Despite Being A Nutter, there must have been some motive for the killing spree, but there doesn’t seem to be one. What is the secret of the rustic village with its smoky pub? Invoke aspects of the Tony Martin case.
A diplomat/stock broker is found dead in his very posh home. Did the Butler do it?
The Green Man Wears Red
I have no idea what to put in it, but the episode name (or something like it) is irresistible. Something to do with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight?
A businessman is found with his spine broken by a hammer blow, and his teeth extracted, whilst still alive. A clumsy and targeted, but apparently motiveless murder. Some digging reveals he was involved in the exotic animals business – his wealth came from ivory exports.
Somehow, we get to a very fanatical eco-activist. The format of CSI shows (moider!) means he’ll be a nutter who’s stopped his medication whom the CSIers must stop, rather than a sympathetic character, sadly. Or perhaps his could be an inverse episode where the cast are made out in a negative light from someone else’s point of view (even if they are, er, a mass murderer)?
It turns out he is obsessed with the legend of Gawain and the Green Knight, which he interprets as a symbolic pact made between man and nature. So, he took the teeth to extract revenge.
Perhaps he’s also cut up a road developer the same way as Tywford Down – chopped out a load straight through him.
"Did you think that was real? It was a metaphor for our pact with nature, that we did not honour. Come on! A green man turns up and makes a deal of trust with nobility?"
Characters try to talk to him as if it’s a real spirit quest he’s on – he thinks they are barmy. He’s quite rational and certainly doesn’t think the trees talk to him etc.
Treason in the Tower
A seeming double suicide in the higher stories of a tower block on the city’s outskirts
The Oyster That Got Away
A open-and-shut case is hampered by the timings of various suspects using their Oyster card.
Mysterious corpses found dotted around the city leads to the churning realisation that the Black Death has returned to the British Isles. A combination of not recognising the disease and the speed of the case means no treatment is available. Eventually, the source of the outbreak – a mass grave disturbed by incompetent workmen – allows enough source biomatter to construct cutting-edge treatment using the CSI gear. This is a gripping contagion-based two-parter.
Live on Most Haunted, the inevitable happens. Creed Kaifer, the infamous
charlatan psychic, accidentally kills one of the crew live on international television. He claims to have been possessed, and anyway, his 20-000 year old spirit guide form Atlantis, Dave, says it was an accident. Or was it? More goings on, after the break…