This was a group presentation given for my third year Canadian film class at Queen's University. In this presentation we look at the first two episodes of season 1 of CBC's hit TV show Da Vinci's Inquest.
Former chief coroner for Vancouverbc became mayor in 2002
A Look at CBC's Da Vinci's Inquest
Da Vinci’s Inquest: Sex, Crime, and Sex-Crimes Lisa Aalders, Ben Bourgon, Caroline Klimek and Megan Svarich-Knights
Overview• Released: October, 1998• Runtime: 44 mins.• Ran from 1998-2005: 7 seasons• Spinoff: Da Vinci’s City Hall• Won Gemini Award for Best Dramatic Series for five of six seasons• Made USA debut September 17, 2005• Airs in Australia, Ireland, Iceland, United Kingdom, Finland and Spain
“This week we watched DaVincis inquest and apart from my hatred for all crime scene shows it was surprisingly good. The caseswere interesting, especially because they had Canadian content that I could relate to after reading newspapers and watching news programs about the downtown Vancouver area”. - Cicely Johnson
Facts:• Population of Downtown Eastside: 17,000• Number of single-room occupancy rooms in the Downtown Eastside: 5,000• Monthly shelter allowance for people on welfare: $375• Monthly rent for SRO room in the Downtown Eastside: $375• Monthly living allowance for people on welfare: $185• Number of addicts in the Downtown Eastside: 4,000- 5,000
• Rate of injection drug-users in the Downtown Eastside with Heptatis C: 9 out of 10• Rate of injection drug-users in the Downtown Eastside who are HIV positive: 3 out of 10• Average amount spent per day on drugs (cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and crystal meth): $200-$400• Number of detox beds for men in the Downtown Eastside: 23• Number of detox beds for women in the Downtown Eastside: 6
“It seems like as long as we can remember, television viewers have been fascinated with the prospect ofpeering, albeit briefly, into the seedier side of society.We get a glimpse of how the “other” world lives in thecities we inhabit and get a little bit frightened by whatwe see. In the format of the majority of crime dramas, this involves attaching the audience’s perspective tothe investigators as they work together, or against one another, to solve the mystery of whom, how and sometimes why”. - Ben Bourgon
Missing Women from Vancouver’s East Sidehttp://www.missingpeople.net/home.html documents the missingperson cases and events leading up to Pickton trial.
Robert Pickton“Canada’s most prolific serial killer”
Facts• Number of women on official police list of missing women since 1978: 65• Number of women who have turned up alive: 4• Number of women Pickton is charged with killing: 26• Age range of the women Pickton is charged with killing: 20 to 46• Number of tips received by the Missing Women Task Force: 12,700• Number of DNA samples processed by the RCMP crime labs: 200,000• Number of swabs used to capture DNA: 400,000• Number of cubic yards of soil sifted by investigators: 383,000• Number of RCMP crime labs used: 6 – Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Halifax
• Number of media involved: about 378 accredited for the trial• Number of prosecutors working for the Crown in court: 7• Number of defense lawyers working for Pickton in court: 11• Cost of investigation to date: about $100 million• Number of judges involved in the case so far: 4• Number of Crown witnesses: 240
In Good Company…• Russel Johnson • Allan Legre• John Martin Crawford • Paul Bernardo• Clifford Olson • Marc Lepine• David Threinen • Michael Wayne McGray• Henry Williams • William Patrick Fyfe• Gary Leo Genereaux • Alan Legere• Leopold Dion • Dr. Thomas Neill Cream• Wayne Boden • Nelson Earle Leonard
“The shows firmly establish themselves in the cities they are shot in (Vancouver for ‘Da Vinci’sInquest’ and Baltimore for ‘The Wire’), which are not the typical crime-show cities we are used toseeing. Multiple references are also made to both cities, show many establishing shots of thesecities, and deal with city-specific issues within the drama (arguably, prostitution as a problem iscommonly associated with Vancouver; drugs and gangs in Baltimore). - Sam Fernandes
Questions• How does the show represent Vancouver?• What is the value of this kind of realism?• What are the ethical implications of representing actual people and events especially considering their violent nature?
“DaVinci’s Inquest seems to really want to sell its title star Nicholas Campbell to the audiences. This Canadian Ray Liotta is headlining a pretty talented cast of actors, in a seriously gritty cop show that does not play out like yourtypical procedural detective series. Unlike the many shows that would soon multiply like rabbits after the millennium (Law and Order/CSI, originals and spinoffs), this show follows more of an NYPD Blue strategy; giving balance to the cases as well as the character’s personal lives. Thesentimental moments required for character developmentmainly revolve around the show’s main character Detective Dominic Da Vinci, and his struggle to keep his family together, typical of many cop series’”. - Keith Saunders
Questions• How does the flaws in Da Vinci’s character add to his appeal?• Do we like Da Vinci? What are the qualities that turn him into a hero?
Questions• How was your relationship with Charlie developed throughout the episodes? How does this extensive characterization affect our reaction to the ending?• How does the fact that we know the perpetrator affect our viewing? Is this new to the genre?
Visual StyleLaw and Order vs. Da Vinci’s Inquest
Questions• What is the effect of the lighting, cinematography and/or music in this sequence?• Do you agree with the idea that the show combines realist and noir aesthetics? What is the effect of this?
Questions• Do you agree that the show invites viewers to see the world it portrays as being “realistic”• What are some possible consequences of this?
Questions Maria Siano in The People are Represented suggests that the television crime genre promotes a “tough-on-crime message” and that the shows “serve to create and reinforce a connotation of ‘the criminal’ in society that often makes is difficult for criminals to assimilate back into society” (2).• Do you agree with her? Do these shows influence the way we understand actual crime or is T.V. just T.V.?
Questions• What do you think about how the characters find justice outside the justice system?• Why do we respond to these kinds of stories where an individual fights for justice against the system (Think Die Hard)?
Questions• “Little Sister”: Does it spread awareness of Aboriginal issues in Canada?• Or, does it support the Other-ing of Aboriginal people and issues?
Questions• Does the laugher and general light mood (supported by the music feel inappropriate to you as a viewer? Why or why not?• Does the body deserve more attention?• How does the characters’ behavior, and your reaction to it, change when the radio is turned off? Does it alter your viewing of the body?
Questions• Has the brother been manipulated to kill? Or is it a well intentioned but unfortunate series of events?• What is the brother’s relationship to the city of Vancouver in this scene and throughout the show?• We know that we are more attached to Charlie’s character because we have seen more of him. How does this affect our interpretation of his death (implied to be done by the brother)?
Discussion Questions• How does the show represent the Canadian Justice System?• What is the effect of not showing explicit violence considering the “realness” of this case? How does this affect your interpretation of the TV show and the historical event?• Does the show offer a catharsis/ending for Da Vinci, the Aboriginals, prostitutes, the Robert Pickton case and the other characters?
Discussion Questions• What is the role of the secondary stories? (heroin baby, father suicide etc.)• Given the fact that this case spans two and a half hours of viewing what if anything makes these three episodes different form a feature length film?