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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

De La Plaza TV: Our Shot-By-Shot Breakdown of '48 Hours'

Posted By on Tue, Nov 17, 2009 at 3:59 PM

click to enlarge Entendez-vous dans les campagnes/Mugir ces féroces soldats? Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras/Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!
  • Entendez-vous dans les campagnes/Mugir ces féroces soldats? Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras/Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!
CBS's 48 Hours Mystery is an investigative reporting powerhouse disguised as pulp TV. Elite news producers are typically given six months to research a single story, often uncovering key details of a criminal puzzle missed by police or reporters.

So it was that San Francisco awaited Saturday's episode, which explored the strange case of San Francisco French dual citizen Hugues de La Plaza, who met a bloody, mysterious end in his Hayes Valley apartment in 2007.

The show's final verdict seems to be that, like other matters public import, the essence of the de La Plaza case was: Who's right, America or France? And the answer is apparently La Republique Francaise.

The show tread upon mostly familiar ground for those well-versed in the case, telling the story of de La Plaza's bizarre death from the perspective of Melissa Nix, a former girlfriend who had broken up with de La Plaza long before his death, and subsequently hounded the San Francisco Police Department for what she believed was a bungled investigation.De La Plaza was found on the floor of his apartment in a pool of blood sans evidence sufficient for police to reconstruct the minutes before he died. Police suggested a possible suicide, a notion bolstered by the medical examiner's official finding of an "undetermined" cause of death.

Critics cried foul, suggesting the suicide theory showed lazy police work.

The 48 Hours show revealed some new details, including text from a heretofore unreleased February 2009 freelance medical examiner's report concluding de La Plaza was murdered.But the show's most important addition to the overall de La Plaza death picture was, well, pictures.

The 48 Hours Mystery staff obtained exclusive on-camera interviews with assistant medical examiner Venus Azar, homey SFPD inspector Tony Casillas, a schlubby, cussing private investigator hired by de La Plaza's somber dad, footage of mysterious, stylish French police inspectors, grotesque crime-scene photographs, yard after yard of "gritty San Francisco" B-roll, and the star of the show, Nix, smoking, drinking, walking on the beach, speaking with anger and sorrow about the former boyfriend she lost, then lost again for good.

In the end, the nation of France came off as it always does: Dionysian, stylish, accomplished, and, worst of all, right.

France was represented by the mad-partying, brilliant audio engineer de la Plaza:

                               Hugues de la Plaza

...and a crew of haute couture-and-sunglasses-wearing French government police inspectors:

                                Stylish French Police fixing to open can of investigative WhoopAss

....and Nix, the francophile ex-girlfriend who wouldn't take no for an answer from police investigators. Oddly, she was done up for her TV interview to look like Monica Lewinsky.


                                         Melissa Nix


                                            Monica Lewinsky

Also in the Gallic corner was de la Plaza's dad, Francois:


Shown here with Nix, he hired a private detective, and helped convince the suave French government investigators to come. Here the French police are again:


                                                        French government investigators, wondering among
                                                        themselves how long Marc Jacobs will stay with Luis Vuitton.
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