Ultra-cool. CSI:NY's Christmas episode (aptly titled Silent Night) has a storyline built around a murder in a deaf family, and guest-stars Marlee Matlin
I have come to love Matlin's work (with the exception of the ridiculous scene in an episode of "Seinfeld" where she is supposed to have mis-lip-read "swept" for "slept" - a mistake the newest lip-reader could not make) because it is consistently so genuinely reflective of the way real deaf people communicate, interact and behave. Whether that's due to Matlin herself insisting on authenticity or whether it's due to good judgment in the people she chooses to work with, the result is very satisfying to a deaf viewer.
Tonight's CSI was no exception. (Warning: major plot spoilers follow.)
The selective uses of silent scenes was particularly effective, I would guess, in bringing a hearing audience's understanding of the character's world to life. The special effects showing how a sound wave from a shotgun blast would rush through a home and be picked up by a deaf person in another room as a vibration, were interesting and intriguing; the scene where Matlin's character identifies the type of murder weapon by feeling the vibrations of many different firearms in the same setting as the original crime is inspired.
The turning of the plot around cochlear implants, and their controversial status among the deaf, was brilliant, if superficially handled (superficially because the deaf family's plot was one of two murders the team was solving in the episode). And the scene where Matlin snatches the CI processor from the ear of a bad guy and throws it out a car window in a hostage situation, rendering her captor deaf, was a brilliant stroke which brought cheers from viewers in the ronniecat household. Clearly, the episode was written by someone who not only understands the technology, but saw the dramatic potential in it.
I also love watching sign in any context. Matlin signs beautifully (as did the actor who played her husband) and has an incredibly expressive face, so
important to ASL. She's a joy to watch.
Compare this to "Sue Thomas, FB Eye", a series based on a real person of the same name who is a deaf FBI agent. Or, as many deaf people I know refer to it, "the breakthrough series starring a deaf person playing a deaf lead character who was shown to magically read lips perfectly and speak almost perfectly and who, after the first episode, rarely showed any evidence of being deaf. Whatsoever."
Anyway, nice treat there for CSI fans, CI wearers and deaf peeps, all of which I am. Throw in Gary Sinese, a good murder mystery and a Very Special Christmas Episode and I'm in ho-ho-heaven.
(Incidentally, Matlin's breakthrough movie, Children of a Lesser God, was filmed in Saint John, NB, and my ASL teacher was an extra in it as a little guy. :) )