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Cold Case's Five Solid Seasons of Crime Fighting

Cold Case gets less attention than the multitude of other crime procedurals on TV. It doesn't have the ratings of CSI, or the shock-factor of Criminal Minds. What it does have is solid storytelling and acting, and a unique hook based on the idea that each case involves a crime that happened any number of years ago.

I was originally resistant to watching Cold Case because of a hairstyle. Kathryn Morris stars as Detective Lily Rush, and for the longest time I was convinced that she had short hair with a fake messy up-do attached to the back of her head. It wasn't just that her hair was messy, it was that it was messy but it always looked exactly the same. It bugged me. I don't remember complaining about it all that much, but apparently I did, because when she finally appeared with her hair down, three different people told me about it.

The team is rounded out by Danny Pino (The Shield), Jeremy Rachford, and Tracy Thoms (Rent). Recently, Bobby Canavale has joined the show.

Some episodes involve crimes that took place as long ago as the 1920s, while some are only a couple of years old. The flashback structure lets us see the witnesses and suspects in both the present and at the time of the crime. Costumes, and especially the music, help set the mood.

A difficulty with some crime procedurals is how much of the personal lives of the cops investigating the crimes should be shown. It can sometimes seem forced, and it's obvious that some plots are created just to give the actor more to do (some of Gary Sinise's stories on CSI: New York come to mind). Cold Case strikes the perfect balance. Most of the episodes focus on the crimes, but there's just enough personal stuff to keep things interesting. In particular, Meredith Baxter's guest turns as Lily's mother have been excellent.

Lily's memories of growing up with an alcoholic mother colored her reactions to last night's case, which involved an addict mom whose baby died in a 2005 arson fire. She believed she saw him at a park. Rush's investigation determined that a different child's remains were found in the fire. The baby was stolen by the woman's social worker, who planted the body of a dead child.

Last night's episode was the season finale, but one of the nice things about Cold Case is that you don't have to see every episode, or see them all in order if you want to avoid being lost, so it's good to catch an occasional rerun. And Kathryn Morris is wearing a nice ponytail these days, so you don't have to worry about irritating hair getting in the way of your viewing pleasure. (Now if we can only get the Grey's Anatomy hair people to use more conditioner on Ellen Pompeo, I'll be happy.)

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Amy Kane spends as much quality time with her television as possible, when she's not busy at her day job as a cube dweller.