Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

April 16, 2014

‘Blood relations’ give W.Va. another black eye, while airline mystery endures


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — It’s not a show that I would normally watch, but the digital television guide caught my attention. The description for the week’s episode of the popular series “Criminal Minds” read something to the extent of two murder victims being found in the “backwoods community of Appalachia” in West Virginia.

 At that point, I couldn’t resist the temptation to watch the episode in question. The immediate thought that came to mind was just how bad would the television show make West Virginia look? And what backwoods community would be featured? Just a week or two earlier, I had written a column about a national news article that didn’t cast a particularly positive light upon McDowell County.

The digital guide didn’t indicate what “backwoods Appalachian community” in West Virginia would be the setting of this particular episode of “Criminal Minds.” I sent Editor Samantha Perry a text informing her of the episode in case she wasn’t aware of it. She quickly texted me back to inform me that it was news to her — and encouraged me to watch the episode, adding that it could prove to be a column in the making. Well guess what? Here I am writing a column about it.

The mystery of where the episode would be set was quickly solved within a few minutes of the episode beginning, as viewers were promptly told that the murder mystery was in Wheeling. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. It wasn’t Bluefield, Welch, Princeton or any other community in our immediate area. But I did feel sorry for the good folks in Wheeling because the episode — “titled blood relations” — didn’t start out very promising, and ultimately didn’t present a very positive impression of the Mountain State. But hey, at least there wasn’t a guy playing a banjo on the front porch of a house in the middle of the woods. But there was a guy drinking a lot of beer in a mobile home in the middle of the woods. He was victim number one — even though he was well armed with a shotgun even in his drunken state.

I will admit that the episode was at least kind of interesting. Tobin Bell, who is perhaps best known for playing the villain Jigsaw in the various “Saw” movies,  played a backwoods mountain-type man, and viewers were made to think from the beginning that he was the killer murdering West Virginia hunters. (Yes, the premise was that ludicrous). But it turns out that Bell’s character was instead cooking meth — or maybe it was moonshine? — at his home. At that point, I was already hooked and confused, and couldn’t stop watching.

When all was said and done, episode 20 of season nine of “Criminal Minds” was more or less yet another black eye for the state — as ultimately nothing positive was showcased or said about West Virginia. But I’ve still seen much worse, and the episode was at least remotely entertaining. And unless I misunderstood what I watched — and I will confess that I was ironing clothes at the same time that I was watching the show — it would appear that the killer got away at the end. So perhaps he will return for a future episode.

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Speaking of television, the most interesting thing on the tube as of late has been the continuing mystery surrounding the doomed Malaysia Airlines Boeing Flight 370. I’ve watched way too much of the CNN coverage about this aviation mystery in recent weeks while also reading every single Associated Press article about the missing airliner that has been printed here in the pages of the Daily Telegraph.

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of the doomed flight has made for compelling reading. And CNN has wisely capitalized upon the American public’s fascination with this story — providing at times around the clock coverage on the story while also boosting ratings for the network in the process. I haven’t really been happy with CNN in quite some time, but I will give them credit for their comprehensive coverage regarding Flight 370. And yes, I’ve probably helped their ratings by starting and ending my mornings and evenings each day by flipping to CNN as opposed to Fox News.

But at some point they are going to have to get back to reporting other news as well. There is still the whole Ukraine and Russian crisis after all, and a big election that coming up. There was even a total lunar eclipse early Tuesday morning — one of those rare blood moons — that got very little attention from either CNN or Fox News. That’s too bad. But apparently we will have three more total lunar eclipses over the next two years, and a “ring of fire” solar eclipse at the end of this month. So there is still time to report on these fascinating heavenly occurrences.

Charles Owens is the Daily Telegraph’s assistant managing editor. Contact him at cowens@bdtonline.com. Follow him @BDTOwens.