Sure, it’s not the most likely television show to snuggle up to, but it’s ours, and it probably always will be.
See, my husband and I agree on very little when it comes to television. He watches things like Ancient Aliens and Life Below Zero, and I record Million Dollar Listing and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. We don’t have the emotional energy for scripted television, and we both very much despise each other’s television choices. With the exception of one . . . Forensic Files.
Almost every evening after we put our son to bed, we pour a glass of wine, go to the bedroom, and search for the ever-elusive television and speaker remotes (usually somewhere inside a pillowcase or under a cat’s a$$). We click on HLN (a channel that, in Los Angeles, is almost ALWAYS playing our show), and when the speaker finally cranks up, we both release a sigh that expels the tension of our collective day. It’s that voice.
The voice of the show’s narrator, the late Peter Thomas, is every bit the warm blanket that my husband and I need. His voice is the smooth cream covering the show’s hot cup of murder, kidnapping, and violence. Mr. Thomas’ voice has become almost meditative for my husband and me, even while he details the gruesome acts of dismemberment, blood splatter, and murder weapon disposal. His voice is our happy place.
We have long since passed clutching our proverbial pearls at the shock of any of the acts depicted in any episode of Forensic Files. We’re pretty sure we’ve seen almost all of them, and (for better or for worse) we’re no longer shocked by hands found in suitcases, people buried in basements, and gunshot residue found in the cars of secret lovers.
“Is this the one where she uses the arsenic in his morning coffee?” I’ll ask. My husband will nod or provide a different suggestion. It’s not that we watch Forensic Files and take notes on how to murder each other (though, we both probably do know more than we should about how cyanide shows up in a toxicology report). It’s more like it’s a comforting backdrop to our nightly winding-down routine.
As we listen to investigators marvel at the forensic science of the late 1990s (that has long since been surpassed), I mindlessly play Candy Crush, and my husband scrolls his CNN app. Every now and then, we joke about the political advertisements or the ads for what we’ve deemed “old person medications” that pepper the intense murder investigations.
There’s even a science behind the fact that this kind of familiarity brings comfort. It’s that song you’ve sung forever, seeing a familiar face in a crowd at a high-stakes event, or even a favorite sweatshirt or blanket — these things calm us, comfort us, help decrease anxiety, and make us feel at home.
For most normal people, that’s a good book or a favorite tee shirt. For me, it is Campbell’s tomato soup, my yellow baby blanket, my husband, and the sweet lull of that familiar baritone voice recounting stories that have been told time and again.
As the chill in the air brings about sweaters, hot toddies, and crackling logs in the fireplace, I’ll be in my bed letting the silky voice of Peter Thomas and the scientific advances of the late ’90s lull my husband and me into a cozy winter slumber.