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Go Holmes

Court TV brings forensic fun to town


Everyone loves a mystery, but who would have guessed that the grisly details of forensics work would make for a glut of successful prime-time TV shows?

Quincy is one thing, but the shots of fake corpses on CSI and real ones on such programs as Autopsy: Voices From the Dead, The New Detectives and Forensic Files are something else. On Channel 4, they're pouring plaster into knife wounds in the chest of a dead naked woman to make molds. On Channel 5, it's time for Will & Grace.

Court TV, creators of the popular Forensic Files, brings a dog-and-pony show to town this weekend for fun with a forensics theme. The interactive kiosks of the Mobile Investigation Unit are for kids as well as parents, so don't expect bloodstained hammers or tests for latent sperm on the bedsheets.

In fact, the activities seem remarkably tame compared with those on the TV show that inspired the tour. "Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?" is the mystery that requires your assistance for the solving.

Visitors learn about a theft, meet the suspects and gather clues by examining fingerprints, handwriting and hair and fiber samples. They can also make casts of their footprints and ask questions of "virtual witnesses" on a monitor. There are giveaways, as well as the opportunity to create a personal "forensic file" of digital fingerprints and photographs for use by parents in the event of the unspeakable.

A lab-coated actor dubbed "Frank Lee Forensics" shepherds guests through the various stations as they attempt to crack the case. At 1, 2, and 3 p.m. on both days of the event, Mr. Forensics conducts DNA experiments with the help of visitors.

The fun has been sanitized for your kids' protection and to prevent any gross-outs. Actual forensics work probably gets a lot more boring and, of course, a lot closer to death.

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