A case of booby traps and impeccable logic

Retro Fails is a new format where I revisit older shows and laugh at their mistakes. It’s basically the same as usual but doesn’t care about the age of the show. I won’t do that often, don’t worry – only if I happen to stumble about something worth writing about.

For today’s post we’ll take a trip down memory lane. Back in 2011, doing spin-offs of Law & Order was still all the rage so there was a short-lived attempt to have a Los Angeles version of Dick Wolf’s procedural. It failed pretty quickly: after about half a season, one of the lead actors dropped out and was replaced, but that didn’t save the show from tanking in the ratings. It ultimately got cancelled to little fanfare. I actually did enjoy it back then, mostly because I like Los Angeles and the cast wasn’t all that bad, but of course, it wasn’t really a good show, just another procedural. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve likely seen all.

I was recently watching a re-run and came across episode 13 in which our detectives (the second set, this was already after the recast) catched a pretty bad case of a bank robber who also liked explosives very much. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Have a gander at the world’s fastest computer starting Photoshop first:

Look ma, no SSD! – Image sequence (c) NBC

Remember, this was filmed in 2011, when most computers weren’t equipped with ultra-fast SSD drives. But even with one, Photoshop is a beast to start, and it certainly wouldn’t look like that. In fact, it looks very much like a very slow computer opening and displaying a huge image file in full screen. Also, there’s no file name on the window title …

A while later, after an officer lost a leg while searching a booby-trapped house, the detectives happen to come across the bank robber’s home, where they quickly find an unpleasant surprise. Apparently, the perp did his job well and booby-trapped his own house as well, so the lead detective gets trapped – he can’t move or the bombs will explode. How he knows that? Because there’s a blinking light on some device on a shelf. Yeah. There are countless lights blinking in my office alone (and the thing looks it could be a router or something) but of course it’s a bomb, what else could it be?

As it happens, this is when the bank robber comes home. The moon is shining really bright that night so he casts a hard shadow against the door.

Image (c) NBC

But when he’s inside the house, the guy’s shadow is clearly visible again even though the house is dark and the bright light seems to be coming from the door’s side.

Image (c) NBC

That’s certainly some weather phenomenon. Maybe we are on Azeroth instead of Earth? Maybe it’s tied to climate change? Who knows!

The police force the guy to help their detective get out of the bomb room. What’s the secret? He has to step on the stickers on the floor to avoid setting off the bomb.

Image (c) NBC

That’s certainly a very creative way of booby-trapping a house, but also a pretty much impossible one.
For starters, one of the decals is under a shelf – what’s the purpose of that? Also, it’s a wooden floor. You couldn’t really put pressure plates under a wooden floor. It’s just not tough enough not to apply pressure to the plates closest to the stickers even if you manage to step only on the (rather small) decals.
Lastly, why didn’t the bomb go off when the detective entered the room earlier? He didn’t bother with the stickers at all at that time.

However, it might very well be that the house wasn’t booby-trapped at all. The perp sounds like quite the nut job anyway so it might have been a hoax all along, although he more or less admits it when asked in court:

District Attorney
He booby-trapped his house with explosives.

Defendant
I was defending my castle!

However, the law isn’t really using sound logic either:

Defendant’s lawyer
Your honor, since the police haven’t actually searched his house yet, it’s premature to claim
it’s booby-trapped.

District Attorney They haven’t searched his house because it’s booby-trapped.

That’s only an assumption, not a fact. They didn’t even call the bomb squad, they just assume the house is booby-trapped because their search dog barked. Might have been explosives residue, might have been a trap – who knows? Instead of carefully dismantling the house or using a robot, they just claim it’s rigged and that’s that.

How does the lawyer respond?

Defendant’s lawyer
My client denies there are explosives.

Does he now? So what did he defend his “castle” with, a router with a blinking light?

The judge responds in the only way possible:

Judge
You’re giving me a headache, Mr. Limpett.

On that we certainly agree.

In the next scene, the DA’s logic get’s even weirder when questioning the defendant’s girlfriend:

Girlfriend’s lawyer
Emily’s a high school drop-out. She’s no chemistry major.

District attorney
She knows enough chemistry to be a two-time convicted drug dealer.

I assume the writer just tried to be funny, but the joke fell rather flat on its face. Most drug dealers – save Walter White – likely don’t know a lick of chemistry. They really don’t need to, either – they just sell drugs. If they can do that, they don’t need to know much else except how to avoid the police and how not to get killed by other dealers, who, in turn, also don’t need to know about chemistry. Knowing how to shoot a gun is usually sufficient for that kind of task.

At that point, I switched the channel. Enough NBC nonsense for a night, but it was interesting to see how preciously little has changed over the years in terms of quality on the peacock network’s shows.

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