'CSI': Liz Vassey in a mini-dress and a frakkin' murder

Wallacelangham_nbc2004allstarparty_240 Whimsical -- and that term applies only loosely when applied to a crime procedural -- episodes are always hit-or-miss, trending toward miss. And yet the sci-fi-themed "CSI" was actually sort of charming.

[These spoilers are dead, Jim.]

Welcome to Whatifitcon! It's the perfect place to celebrate your favorite '60s space series, "Astro Quest." (What, you thought we were talking about that other show?) Hodges is there, haggling over a tricorder-type device, though his thrill of a successful deal is muted by the sight of Wendy (Liz Vassey) in a vintage '60s space show minidress. I can't blame him.

Their nerdalicious flirting is interrupted by a scream, and we all know what that means: Murder most foul. Hodges calls Brass (he'd cloned Grissom's cell at one point) to set up the best line of the episode: "He's dead, Jim."

The vic is Jonathan Danson, a producer working on "Astro Quest Redux," a darker, grittier version of the show for... uhhh... The CW. Right. Maybe they'd pair it with "Supernatural"? In a nice dig at "Battlestar Galactica," Danson mocked the original series' utopian ideals and created the sort of show where a female crew member is bloodily killed, making the captain break down in tears.

Anyway, Danson died when something struck his nose, sending it into his brain. Wasn't that move in every Steven Seagal movie?

Fair warning: I barely watched "Star Trek" or its variants, so I may have missed some in-jokes. I'll rely on you to educate me in the comments.

What I didn't miss was the handful of "Galactica" veterans: Grace Park was in the crowd for the "Redux" sneak peek, and creator Ron Moore shouted insults after the screening. Also, Kate Vernon (who played Ellen Tigh) played media studies prof Penelope Russell.

Russell, it turns out, filmed the "Redux" screening, but of more interest is the trio of conventioneers who confront Danson about it at a bar later. Of course, the show's utopian setting hasn't taught them to fight, so after a beatdown they send the one female member to deliver a DVD condemning Danson's vision.

No points for guessing Danson and the girl get it on, right there on the original "Astro Quest" set... and double no points for guessing he'd been working out the captain's chair quite a bit, if you know what we mean.

Let's wrap this up: All that sex was a red herring, and Danson was actually killed because he stole the "Redux" concept. From, yes, Dr. Russell. She confronted him, they fought, she pushed him, his nose quite smartly met a piece of the set and that was that. Book her for second-degree murder, Brass!

The ep was studded with Hodges' dream sequences, wherein he (as a heroic Captain Kirk analog) romances Wendy (as every "Star Trek"-type vixen). Said sequences were amusing, and probably hilarious to Trekkies, but in the end Hodges decided the good of the lab came before the good of the one and scuttled his plan to tell Wendy how he feels.

Did I miss a Wil Wheaton cameo? Anyone else? And is it wrong that I'd watch a dark, gritty version of "Star Trek"?

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