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Are crime dramas becoming too vivid? In the August 5 issue of Entertainment Weekly, correspondent Jennifer Armstrong says yes. She cites the pilot episode of CBS’ Criminal Minds, in which a caged woman — blinded by layers of duct tape and gagged with a rag — gets her bloodied fingernails clipped by her captor (left). “We never see any stabbings. We never see any stranglings,” argued Minds creator Jeff Davis at a July 20 press conference. “When I wrote that scene, everybody told me I was sick. But it’s just a woman getting her nails clipped.” Mark Gordon, executive producer of the show, joked: ”There was actually a mandate from the network saying ‘We want only shows that perpetrate violence against women.’ We’re just trying to get on the air.” (Quick — get that man a job on Two and a Half Men!)

Other shows this fall are similarly gruesome. A man keeps his wife chained up in her basement in a dog collar on an episode of CBS’ Close to Home. Fox’s Killer Instinct features a rape victim with an “absence of vaginal trauma” because she was paralyzed by venomous spider bites before her attack. While Craig Erwich, Fox’s executive VP of programming, tells EW that ”none of the shows are rewarding criminal behavior,” the new series are certainly more violent than your average episode of Law & Order or even CSI. Most interesting: The target audience for the procedural drama genre is… women. Nearly two-thirds of CSI’s 18-to-49-year-old viewers are female. What do you think? Do the new crop of gory cop shows give you cause for concern, or will you be setting your TiVo to catch ’em?

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