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When the producer of the reboot of a classic SF show (Yes -- think Star Trek) is murdered at a Las Vegas science-fiction convention (attended by both Hodges and Wendy -- both, unknown to each other, fans of the original show), they find a connection with each other as the team investigates the crime.

Episode Info

Episode number: 9x20
Airdate: Thursday April 16th, 2009

Alternate Airdates:

UK (Channel 5) May 26, 2009
NL (RTL 4) Jul 06, 2009


Special Guest Stars
David BermanDavid Berman
As David Phillips
Liz VasseyLiz Vassey
As Wendy Simms

Guest Stars
Archie KaoArchie Kao
As Archie Johnson
Jaime Ray NewmanJaime Ray Newman
As Melinda Carver
Jon WellnerJon Wellner
As Henry Andrews
Karl Herlinger (2)Karl Herlinger (2)
As Yeoman
Michael WelchMichael Welch
As Steuben Lorenz
Randy LowellRandy Lowell
As Collectibles Dealer
Sheeri RappaportSheeri Rappaport
As Mandy Webster
Aneliese RoettgerAneliese Roettger
As Blue Painted Lady
Bradford TatumBradford Tatum
As Ensign Garth
Christine Scott BennettChristine Scott Bennett
As Yeoman Sally Malloy
Josh CoxxJosh Coxx
As Artemis Bishop
Judy Jean BernsJudy Jean Berns
As Mrs. Rose
Kate VernonKate Vernon
As Dr. Penelope Russell
Liza WeilLiza Weil
As Risa Varness
Patrick BristowPatrick Bristow
As Lionel Rose
Reg RogersReg Rogers
As Jonathan Danson

Arne StarrArne Starr
As Convention Guest Artist
Ronald D. MooreRonald D. Moore
As (Heckler)
Main Cast
George EadsGeorge Eads
As Nick Stokes
Eric SzmandaEric Szmanda
As Gregory "Greg" Sanders
Robert David HallRobert David Hall
As Dr. Albert "Al" Robbins
Wallace LanghamWallace Langham
As David Hodges
David BermanDavid Berman
As Dr. David Phillips
Marg HelgenbergerMarg Helgenberger
As Catherine Willows
Laurence FishburneLaurence Fishburne
As Dr. Raymond Langston
Lauren Lee SmithLauren Lee Smith
As Riley Adams
Paul Guilfoyle (1)Paul Guilfoyle (1)
As Captain Jim Brass
Episode Notes
Jaime Ray Newman, Michael Welch (of Joan of Arcadia), and Randy Lowell are all second-time CSI "random" character actors. None are playing the same character this episode as in previous appearances on CSI.

Episode Quotes
Hodges: 750 (dollars). Do I look like an idiot to you?

Hodges: You're gonna need a lot of tape lifts.
Wendy: ...And swabs.
Nick: (sighs) Or... I could run a vacuum cleaner over the whole scene, get exemplars from all these folks, keep you two knuckleheads busy for the next few months. How'd that be? Hmm?
(looks over at Hodges, who gets the point)
Nick: Do me a favor, beam yourselves back to the lab, and let us do our job. Please.
Wendy: (meekly) Okay. (Hodges and Wendy vacate the premises)
Nick: (commenting on Wendy in the miniskirt uniform) Nice outfit.

Dr. Robbins: (sighs) He's been doing that all day!
Ray: He's riffing Cormant Scully's one-liners from Astro Quest.
Dr. Robbins: Didn't watch it much.
David: Because you're not a couch potato, you're a Medical Examiner, dammit!

Nick: Must be hard enough to sling drinks without making you play dress-up. Heh.
(bartender pulls off head prosthesis, showing that facial scars are real)
Bartender: How you like this makeup? Got this on my second tour of Afghanistan. These Astro Questers, they believe in a future where human beings, they transcend their differences. I wouldn't mind living in a world like that.
Nick: (somewhat sheepishly) Yeah, me either.

Mandy: What, if anything else, did you do growing up?
Hodges: Sneer if you wish, but science fiction has been the inspiration for many great technological breakthroughs.
Mandy: Not knocking it, I love sci fi, especially that talking horse show, that was one of my favorites.
(Hodges stands there, stunned by her confusing Mister Ed with science fiction)
Hodges: Mister Ed?
Mandy: Yeah.
Hodges: Yeah, that's not science fiction.
Mandy: Sure it is. It postulates an alternate universe in which horses evolve a larynx.
Hodges: That's fantasy.
Mandy: No, fantasy is anything that travels faster than the speed of light, Hodges, which is why if Albert Einstein were alive today he'd slap your face.

Cultural References
Title: A Space Oddity

2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic SF film from the 60s created by the great director Stanley Kubrick along with one of the "deans" of SF writers, Arthur C. Clarke. It is generally considered one of the principle films of SF history, and often demarcates the line between "classic" SF and "modern" SF in cinematography. It is itself responsible for a vast array of cultural memes.

Hodges: He's dead Jim.

"He's dead, Jim" is a classic recurring line from Doctor McCoy to Captain James Kirk on Star Trek, the show being parodied in the centerpiece of the plot.

Catherine: It's good to be the Commander.

"It's good to be the King" is a classic line from Mel Brooks' "History of the World, Part I" (there was never intended to be a part II). Catherine's line is an obvious take on that.

(Heckler): "You suck!"

That's what an an unhappy fan yells at the writer/producer who is making a rebooted version of a cult classic TV show, with the goal of making it more "realistic." The in-joke is that the fan is played by Ron Moore, who took a lot of flack from hard-core fans of the original "Battlestar Galactica" for his "reimagined" version (which aimed to be more gritty and realistic than the original).

Hodges: You're a Quester?

Fans of the show being "spoofed", Star Trek, are often referred to as Trekkers or Trekkies (the distinction, while unknown outside of fandom, is that the former are "sensible" fans, while the latter are rabidly fanatical and more likely to do the really "geeky" things. Hodges and Wendy definitely would be the equivalent of Trekkies).

Nick: Do me a favor, beam yourselves back to the lab, and let us do our job. Please.

A reference to Star Trek's "transporter" technology, which is a theoretical form of teleportation using electronic and physical principles. "Beam Me Up, Scotty" is a classic line from the Star Trek series.

Archie: Anything interesting happens at a Sci-Fi convention, it's online somewhere about five seconds later.

As anyone who is actually involved in the SF subculture would tell you, the proper term is either Science Fiction or SF (Speculative Fiction is also used, but includes Fantasy and other genres).

Dr. Russell: When he screened his redux, that was the sci-fi equivalent of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Martin Luther was a monk and scholar around whom crystalized the Protestant Reformation, which altered forever the state of Christianity in Western Europe, formerly tied to the Pope and Rome. In 1517 he nailed a treatise, now called the 95 Theses, or questions, to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany. These questions challenged claims and acts of the Catholic Church and of the Pope with regards to salvation and divinity. This event, combined with the desire of Henry VIII to divorce his wife in defiance of Catholic edicts regarding divorce, led strongly to a counter-Catholic religious movement now refered to as Protestantism, as in "protesting the claims of Rome". In this sense, Dr. Russell is claiming that Danson was attacking central tenets of peoples' beliefs.

Dr. Robbins: David, would you finish stitching him up, please?
David: I'm not a seamstress, I'm a coronor's investigator, dammit!

This is a reference to a classic scene from the original series Star Trek episode "Devil In The Dark:
(McCoy has been ordered to help/heal a silicon-based life form)
McCoy: You can't be serious. That thing is practically made out of stone!
Captain James T. Kirk: You're the healer, there's the patient.
McCoy: I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer.

Numerous riffs on that last line have helped make it into a widespread cultural meme.

Ray: He's riffing Cormant Scully's one-liners from Astro Quest.

Possible X-Files reference to Dana Scully, one of the show's two principle investigators.

Hodges has two Astro Quest fantasy sequences with Wendy. The first one, which shows the "torment collars" on Hodges and Wendy (shown immediately before with Wendy examining one for evidence) is a very clear reference to season two's The Gamesters of Triskelion
The other (with "Tigillian Concubine" Wendy dancing in front of Archie and Hodges) is tied to Star Trek's only two-part episode, season one's The Menagerie, which adapted the original pilot episode to make a two-part story. Wendy's part in this sequence matches up with that of Susan Oliver's green Orion Slave Girl (The "Green Orion Slave Girl" concept re-appeared thirty-five years later in Star Trek: Enterprise)

Dr. Russell: Johnathan Danson took my Media Semiotics course.

Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols. Within it is included the study of how meaning is constructed and understood.

Dr. Russell: Caught in the... "Web of the Combine".
Jim: Hrrrm.
Dr. Russell: That's a reference to...
Jim: (interrupting) to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, I know...

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is a novel by Ken Kesey, which became a play and a 1975 Academy Award winning movie, sweeping five top awards -- Best Actor, Actress, Director, Writing, and Picture, and cemented the reputation of Jack Nicholson. In it, "the Combine" was the web of social forces which everyone winds up compromising themselves to throughout life.

Dr. Russell: You... you see the irony, don't you? John attempted to de-consruct Astro Quest's iconography. And he was killed by one of the signifiers he sought to subvert. Derrida, Derrida would have called that...
Jim: ...An Epistemological Dichotomy? I just call it Second Degree Murder.

Jacques Derrida is known as the founder of deconstructionism, a Postmodern attempt to remove all meaning from anything it deals with. Epistemology is the philosophical study of how we know what we know. In the context, with deconstruction, it can only lead to the idea that nothing is knowable and that everything is meaningless. The suicidal death spiral that results when applied to itself is carefully out of bounds in modern academia.

Vellikon Translator

"Vellikon" appears to be a complete language in the Astro Quest mythos. This is presumably akin to the language of Klingons in Star Trek mythos. Originally a few spoken words by James "Scotty" Doohan, it was expanded into a full, official language by Marc Okrand, an American linguist hired by Paramount to enhance the realism of the Star Trek background (This sort of devotion to making the background of a story into a full-fledged and completely realized universe is a hallmark of the distinction between Science Fiction and SciFi). Since its appearance, Klingon became the first fictional language to break into popular culture; Works translated into Klingon include the Bible, Hamlet, and Much Ado About Nothing. These last two choices were inspired by a remark from High Chancellor Gorkon in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country that "Shakespeare is best read in the original Klingon". Some fans assumed it to be a joke, though another explanation subsequently surfaced that "a future Klingon time traveler translated some Klingon operas and sold them to Shakespeare", once more, enhancing the depths of background behind any true Science Fiction.

The show does capture some nice echoes of Star Trek and SF fandom, but it is a bit over the top in terms of the typical fan and fan convention -- while some people do dress up for a convention, the number of fans "in costume" at anything except the occasional masquerade ball is far lower than that shown in the episode.

In the initial scene, from "Astro Quest", there are clear (obviously intentional) similarities to the various Star Trek series. The "bridge" set is laid out much the same way, and the uniforms have similar cut and coloration to that of Star Trek: The Next Generation (though the miniskirts fit more with Star Trek: The Original Series). The alien is refered to as a "Gorth", harkening back to the not dissimilar looking Gorn (from the ST:TOS episode Arena). The intonation "puny Hyooomaan!" also is similar to the way that the Ferengi, (originally conceived to be the main menace for The Next Generation) said the word "Human". Further, the crew member menaced by the Gorth resembles ST:TOS crew member and eye candy Yeoman Janice Rand. The alien crewmember shown has "ear dangles", an allusion to the prosthetic pointed ears of Mr. Spock, and the device the captain uses to distract the Gorth (which Hodges is induced to purchase as a collectible) is an oversized "tricorder"

Science Fiction, SF, Sci Fi, and Speculative Fiction

"SF" and "Science Fiction" are interchangeable terms. They refer to serious efforts to produce fiction with both good fiction elements as well as a healthy respect for science and technology, but in which the "gee whiz" element does not heavily subordinate the quality of the fiction.

"Sci-Fi" is low-budget cheesy pseudo-science fiction, with a big emphasis, generally on both "low budget" and/or "cheese". If Sci-Fi is big budget, it's usually because the creators put the money into special effects and Gee-Whiz techo-gadgets, not into a good story, a good plot, or good acting.

Speculative Fiction subsumes both, plus usually Fantasy and can reach into other genres as well, including mystery and historical drama.

Star Trek (and presumably "Astro Quest" by extension) is SF. "Mansquito" and "Waterworld" are Sci-Fi.

This distinction is important to SF fandom, because all too often peoples' perceptions of SF is colored by experience with Sci-Fi, the latter of which usually denotes a much lower talent level as a writer, as well as a creator. All too often the so-called "Creator" of sci-fi thinks that any problems with the story or plot can be fixed by throwing in mention of the doubletalk generator and/or adding more special effects. Science Fiction is generally written with a great deal of respect for the science as well as the fiction. Sci-fi usually respects neither.

Note that misuse of SF/Sci-Fi interchangeably is a flawed component of the Dr. Penelope Russell character. Were she, as she says in the episode, "making a documentary on the gestalt constructs of Sci-Fi mythicultures", then she most certainly would be aware of the strong distinction made in Fandom between Sci-Fi and SF, and never use the term sci-fi in reference to her work.

Hodges: That's fantasy.
Mandy: No, fantasy is anything that travels faster than the speed of light, Hodges, which is why if Albert Einstein were alive today he'd slap your face.

Mandy is woefully wrong, here. Einstein's theories do not reject the possibility of travelling faster than light, they simply say that "you can't get there from here", which is in no sense the same thing, and they contain several components for mechanisms which might also short circuit that limit. The concept of tachyons, particles which expressly travel faster than light (as opposed to tardyons, which are what we experience and are made of) are undemonstrated theoretical constructs in mainstream physics. For tardyons, you have to put energy into them to make them go faster. For tachyons, you have to put energy into them to make them go slower. The speed of light forms a boundary between the two "universes", which something has to have infinite energy in order to attain regardless of particle type. In addition, the concepts of relativity, along with gravity as "warping", or twisting space, provide one of the more common notions for attaining FTL (Faster Than Light) speeds. For the Star Trek universe, the notion is that the warp drive twists space around it, making a localized bubble of space-time which loses its "connection" with our universe and it is this bubble, inside which sits the space craft, which moves faster than light. The ship itself never exceeds the speed of light inside that bubble, and thus is not violating the principles of Einstein. A third common mechanism used is a variation of some sort usually referred to as hyperspace or infraspace. In this case, the ship somehow shifts itself into another universe where the known physical laws do not apply, and, while there, either travels faster than light speed (Einstein's physics isn't applicable) or "folds" the space so that it instantaneously moves a great distance without travelling through the intervening space (thereby bypassing the problem of going a vast distance from A to B by making A and B very, very close, as in folding a piece of paper to bring two points drawn on it togther). A fourth mechanism for FTL transfer is the notion of wormholes, a sort of "space tunnel" version of mechanism three. A fifth, uncommon notion was suggested by (and used only by) classic Space Opera author E.E. "Doc" Smith, in his Lensman series, which he noted that inertia, the resistance to increased/decreased momentum, is the thing which requires the infinite energy levels to go from sub-light to supra-light speeds. By postulating a drive mechanism which removed all inertia, he justified his own, unique form of FTL travel.

Dr. Russell: You... you see the irony, don't you? John attempted to de-consruct Astro Quest's iconography. And he was killed by one of the signifiers he sought to subvert. Derrida, Derrida would have called that...
Jim: ...An Epistemological Dichotomy? I just call it Second Degree Murder.


Dr. Russell: Caught in the... "Web of the Combine".
Jim: Hrrrm.
Dr. Russell: That's a reference to...
Jim: (interrupting) to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, I know...

These instances are mildly sharp on a singular level, but reflect poor writing on a larger level, as they throw dialogue into the mouth of someone who it really is fairly out of character for. It is clear that the show is floundering a bit without Grissom.

Brass is not the least bit stupid, but he's much more of a "Master Sergeant" type leader than "Officer Material". He doesn't really care about the why, and sees the world, as well as the people in it, in a fairly simple, uncomplicated way. Yet here he is recognizing two intellectual references, one of them fairly subtle (Derrida) and even responding with "appropriate" terminology ("An Epistemological Dichotomy"). This just does not fit with Brass's personality. The lines would fit more into a lot of other peoples' mouths. Grissom, in particular, would have fit the line. But of all the people there, Brass is the one these refs fit with the least. Catherine or Nick would have taken the lines better than Brass.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorAnthony E. Zuiker
Main Title ThemeThe Who
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