‘Forensic Files II’ – Old crimes, new forensic techniques
It’s new stories, a new network and a new narrator but fans of the original “Forensic Files” will find something utterly familiar when it reboots this week on HLN.
The logically titled “Forensic Files II,” a documentary series premiering Sunday, Feb. 23, continues the work of the true-crime series that aired on TLC and Court TV from 1996 to 2011, following the work of scientists and investigators who use cutting edge forensic techniques to solve the most baffling criminal cases – techniques that have become far more sophisticated since the series left the air nearly a decade ago.
It’s narrated by actor Bill Camp (“The Night Of,” “The Outsiders”), who succeeds the late Peter Thomas (“NOVA”) and is a fan of the original series.
“I would say that almost every episode gets to me,” Camp says of the reboot. “It’s a series that I’ve been watching for some time. … And as a viewer and a storyteller myself, I’m automatically engaged with it. … Because it deals with the families of the victims, it also — we see a side of the investigators, too, where they’re personally invested. And as an actor, just with my imagination, I’m in the position sometimes where I’m truly moved by it.”
Two early episodes give an idea of what to expect. One follows a 1980s case in Texas where a serial killer targets women in a small town until a fingerprint cracks the case. In another from the past decade, Louisiana investigators use DNA obtained from under a murder victim’s fingernail to reconstruct what her killer might look like.
“Through touch DNA, they can now create the face,” explains executive producer Nancy Duffy. “That’s pretty amazing when you think of it. So instead of having to rely on fingerprints, literally with a small piece of your DNA, they can use this program that they’ve developed to put a face to the suspect. And by doing that, they actually solved a crime, years old.”
An unintended consequence of shows like “Forensic Files” and the “CSI” franchise is that perpetrators have become more educated about forensic investigations and try to figure out ways to outsmart them. But Duffy says investigators are still smarter.
“If you think about it, that if you touch this glass and they can take that touch DNA from your fingerprint and create an image, a likeness of you that is so real that you will be arrested, that’s unbelievable,” she says. “And … people don’t still realize that your cell phone is tracking you and the police can use that tool to find you. And no matter what you do with the body, they don’t need a body anymore. You could be convicted without the dead body.”