Episode Title: "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead"
Writer: Tom Mularz
Director: Paul McCrane
Phillips (David Berman) examines a John Doe who was pronounced dead on the Vegas strip. As he turns away to take a phone call, the man rises and walks out of the lab after Phillips passes out at the sight of him. Langston (Laurence Fishburne) and Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) examine the body bag for evidence, in disbelief.
Meanwhile, Sara (Jorja Fox) handles a similar situation where a young man who appeared to be dead in an alley arose and walked off.
Greg (Eric Szmanda) examines a notebook found on the John Doe, containing cryptic notes in diary form. He soon discovers the notebook belongs to a Dr. Aden. Now living in seclusion out in the desert, Aden worked on a number of "fringe" psychiatric experiments for the government, years ago.
Langston and Sara visit Aden (Howard Hesseman) and take him back to his old lab on a college campus. They find evidence of recent use and soon discover that three college students had been using Aden’s research and equipment to conduct "reanimation" experiments of their own, which the doctor claims to know nothing about. They find the dead body of one of the students, Kurt Dawson (Christoph Sanders) in the tank.
After identifying the John Doe as fellow student Max Ferris (Keegan Allen) the team pieces together that he killed Dawson, who was in a drug-induced rage. Using footage taken off mounted camcorders the three were wearing, the team learns the third student, Alice Katsu (Camille Chen) was recently in touch with Aden, hoping to reach her recently deceased mother on the other side. It turns out Aden was guiding the three students in the deadly experiment.
The team looks for Alice at her mother’s gravesite but find Max instead. He makes a run for it but is hit by a passing car. Meanwhile, a videotape found at Aden’s house shows him taking the drug, which contains poison, himself. While Aden is dead, the team finds Alice alive, having gained some closure with her mother while in the drug-induced state.
If you’re a fan of "Fringe" and/or "WKRP in Cincinnati," this was the "CSI" episode for you.
While numerous references to the film "Altered States," were made in the hour, "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead," seemed to have more in common with the FOX sci-fi show, right down to the mad scientist who’s brought out of exile to investigate a crime and the use of an sensory deprivation tank.
Howard Hesseman aka "Johnny Fever," was competent in the role of the amoral Dr. Aden but the episode dragged on a bit with the back and forth between the doctor and the CSI team.
The team did take some interesting routes in unraveling Aden’s underground experiments with a trio of students. Ink analysis, top secret government psychology experiments and head-mounted camcorders provide more intrigue than the usual blood and guts the team handles. And seeing how zombies are all the rage these days, playing up the analogy with Aden’s "reanimated" guinea pigs was to be expected.
I’m not quite sure what the point of the scene where Doc Robbins reamed out the EMT for not properly calibrating her equipment was. Perhaps she’ll show up again in a week or two, to screw up another pulse reading.
What really worked for this episode is the way it wrapped around Langston’s frustration over Haskell’s escape. We see him early on, incited by the notion that the serial killer is out there, roaming free. At the end of the hour, he and Robbins share a quiet moment, contemplating the afterlife.
On a show that deals with violence and death so plainly, it’s nice to see those moments of human introspection, even if it does take a serial killer on the loose to inspire them.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.