Cold Case: The 100th Episode

Directed by Roxann Dawson

Written by Meredith Stiehm and Gavin Harris

Kathryn Morris, Danny Pino, John Finn, Jeremy Ratchford, Thom Barry and Tracie Thoms – With Bellamy Young, Tuc Watkins, Ralph Waite, Jonathan Scarfe, Peter Haskell, Lawrence Pressman, Serah D’Laine and Julianna McCarthy

‘World’s End’, the seventh episode of the fifth season of this CBS network police procedural, was the 100th episode of the show. It was first broadcast in America on 7 November 2007 and has recently come to Sky TV in Britain, where it was advertised as having a supernatural theme.

I have not seen all of the previous ninety-nine episodes, but I have seen over half of that number, mainly from seasons three and four, although recently I have also seen some excellent season one episodes. I’ve enjoyed the show very much and particularly looked forward to watching this episode, thinking perhaps it would be something special and quirky to mark the occasion – possibly in a similar vein to ‘Hush’ (‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’) or ‘Jose Chung’s From Outer Space’ (‘The X Files’), as two random examples.

That proved not to be so. The “cold case” relates to a woman who went missing on 30 October 1938 during the broadcast of the infamous radio adaptation of ‘War Of The Worlds’ by the Mercury Theatre (Orson Welles) that panicked more than a million people into believing America was genuinely under attack by creatures from the planet Mars. This is as close as the episode gets to a “supernatural” theme. In all other respects it is a typical example of the show, but not a particularly memorable one.

The body is discovered at the bottom of a disused well some 69 years after the disappearance and the investigation is re-opened. Lilly Rush (the wonderful Kathryn Morris), who is nominally the lead character, seems to take something of a back seat here, when I expected her to be at the very forefront of the story. For me, the show is at its best when that happens.

The storylines in the show are rarely especially believable, primarily because of the apparent absence of any basic investigative procedures being followed in the original unsuccessful investigations. These cases are so easy for Lilly and her colleagues to solve that we must assume the Philadelphia homicide department was previously over-run with a bunch of wilful incompetents. Somehow that doesn’t seem to matter most of the time and the show often tackles interesting subjects, but this episode was too implausible in too many different respects.

The original disappearance in this story took place nearly 70 years prior to the broadcast date of the episode – and the show is set in the “present day”. Five people directly affected by the disappearance are still alive, four of them having been adults in their twenties or early-thirties back in 1938. That would suggest all four would now be approaching 100 years of age. Nothing about the characters as they are presented to us suggests this and in any case it would be hard to believe that all four people could have lived to such a great age. Probably less than 0.02% of the population of the USA are centenarians.

The best thing about the episode is undoubtedly the performance of Bellamy Young as Audrey Metz, the woman whose disappearance and murder sparks the investigation. She also looks fabulous in the role. The choice of music is excellent, including ‘It’s Easy To Remember’ by Bing Crosby (recorded with the George Stoll Orchestra in 1935) and ‘Jumpin’ At The Woodside’ by Count Basie and his Orchestra, which was a big hit in 1938. The music used in the series is, of course, it’s main calling card, carefully chosen to create the impression of whichever year each “cold case” dates from.

‘World’s End’ was co-written by Meredith Stiehm, the creator of the show, but I expected something rather more special to celebrate the 100th episode landmark.

Screencaps from

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