- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 24, 2002

Have you ever wondered which poison smells like bitter almonds? Or how to detect a false signature? If you have,
Court TV's "I, Detective," premiering at 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 4, might be your kind of television.
The half-hour program invites viewers to solve old crimes by means of various clues. Every few minutes, the narrator asks how a detective would go about the investigation, presenting a choice of three forensic methods.
The viewer is asked to pick one and is given the correct answer a few moments later great exercise for closet detectives and science sleuths. It's a kind of forensic jeopardy, where you want to be the first competitor to come up with the correct answer.
The first program, "Message in a Bottle," is about a 1986 murder case in Seattle in which cyanide was used. You guessed it: the poison that smells like bitter almonds.
Two persons die before the police start finding cyanide-laced Excedrin on grocery store shelves. They remove Excedrin from the shelves and test it for traces of cyanide. Which is the most effective way to check the Excedrin bottles for poison? X-ray the Excedrin capsules, use sniffing dogs or do a chemical analysis? The correct answer is using X-ray.
We also learn that part of the suspect's profile is to go back to the stores to check sales of Excedrin, in keeping with the belief that murderers return to the scene of their crime.
At the end of the show, both the police and the viewers (if you've chosen the right clues) have their killer. We won't divulge who it is, but can reveal that the motive as is so often the case is greed.
"I, Detective," is educational without being boring and should win over viewers among the ranks of true crime buffs.

This fall, Court TV premieres five one-hour documentaries in which forensic science also plays an important role. "The Disappearance of Dawn," at 10 p.m. on Wednesday, shows how relentless police work and the use of DNA evidence helped finally solve the 28-year-old disappearance of Dawn Magyar, a young mother, in 2001.
After her body was discovered, evidence trickled in the gun was discovered and her wallet was found but the police never had enough proof to build a case against any suspect until DNA testing became available. Fortunately, the rape kit was well-preserved and forensic scientists were able to extract the perpetrator's DNA from it.
The police narrow the case down to one suspect, but he is unlikely to want to submit blood samples on which they can run a test. The detectives decide to purloin his garbage to try to find anything that might contain DNA. In the end, its a pile of Merit cigarette butts that enables them to close the case and convict the murderer.
"The Disappearance of Dawn," is well-made. There are plenty of cliffhangers, and it's often difficult to tear one's eyes from the screen. But unlike "I, Detective," this show treads on old tracks, not adding much of anything new to true-crime reporting.
"The Disappearance of Dawn," and "Overboard," which airs at 10 p.m. on Thursday, are world premieres. The other three documentaries have been previously broadcast.

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