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It was an idle Thursday and remained as such when the not-so-shocking news hit: CSI:Cyber was cancelled after just two seasons.
The show, which is the last remaining extension of the widely popular CSI franchise, gained a cult-following of hate-watchers, but apparently not enough to keep the show alive. The guilty pleasure indulgers tuned in each week as the oddest grouping of FBI investigators — Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Ted Danson (Cheers), Shad Moss (the artist formerly known as Lil Bow Wow) and James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) — solved crimes that “start in the mind, live online, and play out in the real world,” as the show’s unofficial tagline goes.
During CSI:Cyber’s short run, its creators set reality aside and baked up cheesy, outlandish plots that unfurled by the first commercial break. Though interviews with the cast may suggest otherwise, maybe the creators were finally beginning to understand the digital realm that they were depicting. Maybe they were on the brink of a show that actually reflected current contentions between law enforcement and ever-developing technologies. If so, here are synopses of what some future episodes might have looked like.
Cyberpsychologist Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette) has recruited a team of young hackers, but they’re salty about getting ripped off on drugs that they purchased on the Dark Net and want to spend their workday hacking the jerks. They convince Ryan that they need to be able to get a warrant from their neighborhood friendly judge to be able to hack a computer when its location is unknown. The young hackers hide their purpose behind the veil of ‘national security’ and Ryan loves it. She pitches it up the bureaucratic ladder, and finds the perfect solution: leverage a little-known committee, wait for Congress to do nothing, and it’s a go.
2) “NDA: New Dating Arrangement”
The budding office romance between black hat hacker-turned-FBI agent Brody Nelson (Shad Moss) and one of Ryan’s newly-hired ‘young hackers’ is in trouble. The lovers disagree about whether to make local police departments sign non-disclosure agreements in order to use the unit’s Stingray device. They ultimately decide it’s a worthless fight because some things should be kept a secret, like their own relationship (from their coworkers). Besides, they have tickets to a show at the 9:30 Club, and it’s totally worth setting aside their differences, some of which will inevitably cause the demise of their relationship.
3) “Dawson’s Leak”
Agent Elijah Mundo’s (Van Der Beek) wife applies for a new teaching job after taking some time off. But after running her fingerprints through the FBI’s new biometric database, the middle school denies her a position. The reason: The database erroneously mismatched her fingerprints with someone convicted of murder in 1979, before she was even born. Mundo is outraged and tries to tell his superiors about the mistake, but no one will act. He ultimately decides to leak the incident to a national newspaper and the FBI retaliates. Mundo is forced to get a job on the Geek Squad at his local Best Buy.
Lauren Walker reports on technology, cybersecurity, and foreign affairs. She worked as a staff writer at Newsweek and previously worked for Al Jazeera America.