It's the beginning of a new television season, which must mean it's time for the next in a line of television series glorifying the fast-paced, glamorous lives of scientists. NBC has brought us Medical Investigation, in which public-health specialists take to the streets (and the skies) to sleuth out the source of unexplained illnesses. In the series premiere aired earlier this month, the crack team of MDs and PhDs descend upon New York City to figure out why a dozen people have fallen ill and are literally turning blue. In the storyline, which appears to borrow quite liberally from the late Berton Roueche's true-to-life account of "Eleven Blue Men" in The New Yorker, the team traces the condition's source to a saltpeter-filled saltshaker at a greasy-spoon diner, and saves the day.

Overlooking the scientific inaccuracies that riddle such shows – you know, mass spectrometry and geno-type analyses turned...

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