Monday, May 26, 2008

Autopsy on HBO

Since Unsolved Mysteries was the past in spOoOoOky tv, let's talk about the present/future of awesomely horrific and frighteningly informative television. It's a little show that's on HBO every now and then: on random Sunday mid-mornings, and late, late at night....Autopsy!

Autopsy presents murders and the like in such a creepy, this-is-happening-down-the-street kind of way that makes me jump out of my skin when it's on.
This show also makes average schmoes like me want to dive right in and become forensic pathologists at the very same time.

Autopsy is a documentary-based tv show that premiered in 2006 and follows the work of famed forensic pathologist powerhouse, Dr. Michael Baden,

in his genius discoveries and mystery solving that leave me and the rest of planet Earth shocked and in awe of his medical prowess (can I say "prowess" for a guy?)

You may recognize some of his work:

-The OJ Simpson Trial
-The Lisa McPherson case (involving the ridiculously creepy Scientology)
-John Belushi's Death
-Sid and Nancy's deaths
-the Remains of Tzar Nicholas of Russia and his royal family

he also gave advice in the Scott Peterson trial, as well as in the Terry Schiavo case. The man's been places. He's been performing autopsies for over 30 years...I believe him. When he says something about the type of stomach contents pertaining to the place that the victim died, I believe it.

He's also such a nice guy that he allows for some very inciteful forensic scientist Q&A.

But, perhaps my personal favorite person in Autopsy, though, is the narrator. It took me 15 minutes to find her name: Marlene Sanders.

First of all, I didn't know this, but she was the first woman to go over and cover the Vietnam War. She's a journalist, but what I best know her for, is the creepy lady that says "Dr. Bah-den" and other creepy words while she narrates things. I like to envision her ordering a pizza and talking in her narrator voice. she's my hero.

Her and "the Bahd" make this show my absolute favorite. Everytime it is on HBO, no matter how many times I've seen it, I'll watch it over, and over, and over, and over again.

The best cases on the show, at least in Monster Bash's opinion, are the following (I'm going to countdown to make it more dramatic):

The Tinning Deaths: MaryBeth Tinning had 9 of her children die over the course of 14 years (1972-1985), 8 of them biologically hers, and one adopted child. Everyone thought by a "death gene" or SIDS, but Baden cracked the case. This episode was in the first installment of Autopsy-Confessions of a Medical Examiner. Tinning is currently serving out her sentence in New York and was denied parole in March 2007.

Funhouse Dummy: This one was about a funhouse dummy, that was really a corpse. The mummified body of Elmer McCurdy was found in a California funhouse when a director filming a show in the funhouse didn't like the way the dummy was hanging and asked someone to move him. When they when to move the dummy, the arm broke off exposing human bone. Imagine seeing that the next time you're in a haunted house and you bump into one of those..."dummies". This was in the 2nd episode: Voices from the Dead.

The Eyeball Killer: This was in episode 5: Dead Men Do Tell Tales. In the 1990's dead prostitutes were turning up with their eyeballs removed. The hair and fibers on the victims linked the deaths to this guy, Charlie Albright, who was convicted, and while he won't admit to the crime, he draws creepy pictures of eyeballs on his cell all day long. Guilty much?

The Robert Curley Case: This was also in episode 5. It reminds me of an awesome lifetime movie. Robert Curley was overseeing a Chemical Laboratory when he suddenly became ill and died. The cause of death was determined to be Thallium. Guess what? the lab had no thallium...yet his wife and daughter were also shown to have small amounts of the chemical. Through testing the different lengths of Curley's hair, forensic scientists were able to prove that the poisoning had been happening over and extended period of time. So, Who-Done-It? You're right: Curley's wife. Guess why- $$$.

The Love Bird: This was a segment in episode 11: Sex, Lies, and Murder. It was about a man named Kevin Butler, who was killed in his home, along with his white-crested Cockatoo, named Bird (after Larry Bird) on Christmas Eve 2001. The reason why I chose this to make the list was that an autopsy was done on the bird and they found the DNA of the killer, because Bird loyally tried to defend his owner by pecking at the murderer. Because of Bird's courage, the killer was convicted. It was kind of endearing in a sad way. But hey, it just goes to show you-treat your pets right!

Joan Bent: This one was from the first episode, and was about a woman who disappeared in 1986 and was found dead and frozen in the trunk of her car. The husband claimed that she had eaten dinner at 4:30 pm and then left for work at 6:30 pm. Sounds reasonable, right? Why'd I choose this one anyway? Here's why...Dr. Baden, who, by examining her STOMACH CONTENTS (see picture to the left), determines that she had died within 30 minutes of eating. The husband ends up confessing. The wife was going to divorce him, and he couldn't handle it. What did we learn? Don't mess with M.B., fool.
There was another one that Dr. Baden examined about a girl that had run away from home and disappeared. She turned up dead, and once again, the Bads looks at her stomach contents and the type of french fries she ate right before dying were only cut that way at this specific diner and that's how they found the killer. the tummy doesn't lie.

How Did Terrie Petrie's Babies Die? This one was one of those on the "Ask Dr. Baden" special (episode 10). I picked this one, because, well, it's pretty heart-wrenching. Petrie had 4 children, and three of them died. I at first though this was another Tinning case. She was being interrogated and basically blamed for the deaths, so she wrote to Dr. Baden to help her find out why all of her babies, except her oldest that was 7, were dying. Dr. Baden took 5 months to perform testing, and then he aired his discussion with her, in one of the saddest and most uncomfortable-to-watch episodes ever. He gives her the 4 possibilities: 1. Genetic Disorder, 2. SIDS, 3. accidental roll-over, and 4. homicide.

I'll give you a hint, it's number 3. She would sleep with the babies in bed with her, and accidentally rolled over and suffocated all three babies. lesson? put the baby in a crib.

A Lasting Impression: I also like to refer to this one as "sweet, sweet justice". So basically, in 1994, A woman went for a walk in rural Kansas, and was mowed down by a car. She suffered major injuries and could not remember anything about the accident. Fortunately, she was wearing black stretch pants that actually imprinted the expiration date and the first two digits of the Missouri license plate. From this evidence, they were able to find the car and convict the person that hit her and sped off. The woman ended up recovering. I love love love this one because the guy probably thought he was free, and then HA HA HA-you're a pair of PANTS.

Pure Evil: This was in episode 8: Dead Giveway. It was about a couple who had just gotten engaged, and it was I believe Christmas Eve. They were drinking with the girl's 15 year old sister, and by the morning, the 15 year old was dead-presumably by choking on her own vomit after drinking too much. The following year, the two got married, and a string of rapes-turned-murders began. The guy ends up being arrested, but then you also find out that the wife was also in on it. What makes this case even MORE insane, is that the girl DRESSES up like the little sister as a turn-on and she helped in both raping and killing the sister. Horrifying!

The Strange Obsession of Dr. Carl Von Cosel: AKA the GREATEST story ever on the show. This was in episode 6 : Secrets of the Dead. It's from 1934, when this doctor was working at a hospital helping people with tuberculosis (then incurable). He ended up falling in love with a 22 year old girl, and when she died, built her a mausoleum, and visited it every night. Then it gets even creepier...he moves the corpse to his home, and when the sister accosts it, it looks like a "wax dummy". Upon further investigation, we find that it is really the girl, preserved with embalming fluid, piano wire, glass eyes, and perfume to keep her from smelling. He also inserted a tube to, you his love for her physically? I guess you could say?...Anyway, The sister takes the girl's body and buries her in a secret location. What happens to the doctor? He creates a life-sized dummy with a death mask he made from the girl and lived with it until he died. This was the all-time creepiest and most insane segment ever. Thank you Jim for reminding me about it in my previous post about mummies!

In conclusion, Autopsy is my favorite show on Earth. Hopefully now, it's yours too.


Jim said...


"In his spare time, Dr. Baden operates a mom-and-pop deli in his hometown of Chicago"

Anonymous said...

Most of these episodes are now on Youtube under The Name "Autopsy Presents" Spread the word.

Anonymous said...

Marlene Sanders has a voice that you will never forget! She keeps you interested and in suspense like Robert Stack on Unsolved Mysteries and Bill Kurtis on the Cold Case Files/City Confidential. I am TRULY a fan of all 3;)