A woman is killed after opening a mail bomb. The investigation leads to the discovery of a bitter research dispute between her ex-husband, a noted physicist, and a younger researcher that he double-crossed.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (credit only)
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Max Weiss
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Shelly Conners
Bill Moor ...
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Edward Manning
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Cynthia Thomas
Vince Viverito ...
Frank Rossi
Ellen Lancaster ...
Alice Weiss
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Barry Ramsey
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Storyline

Detectives Briscoe and Logan investigate when Florence Manning is severely injured and later dies in hospital when a letter bomb explodes in her apartment. When trace evidence of a radioactive material is found among the debris, the police naturally suspect the dead woman's estranged husband Edward Manning, a renowned physicist. He denies having anything to do with the crime and the police continue their investigation of those who may have had access to nuclear material. The focus is on Max Weiss whose post-doctoral fellowship recently expired and is now working as an apartment building doorman. During questioning he claims that Manning hired him to build and send the bomb but ADA Stone uncovers a different motive: Manning had turned down Weiss' application for a research grant and intended to steal his idea leading Weiss to seek revenge. Getting Manning to testify in court to academic theft will not be easy however. Written by garykmcd

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2 March 1994 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

Based on the Ted Kaczynski (aka "The Unabomber") case. Theodore John "Ted" Kaczynski, also known as the "Unabomber",was an American domestic terrorist, anarchist, and mathematical prodigy. Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski engaged in a nationwide bombing campaign against people involved with modern technology, planting or mailing numerous homemade bombs, ultimately killing a total of three people and injuring 23 others. He is also known for his wide-ranging social critiques, which opposed industrialization and modern technology while advancing a nature-centered form of anarchism. He became well-known for sending bombs to people with false return addresses - that belonged to real people and was the target of one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's costliest investigations. Before Kaczynski's identity was known, the FBI used the title "UNABOM" (UNiversity & Airline BOMber) to refer to his case, which resulted in the media calling him the Unabomber. The FBI (as well as Attorney General Janet Reno) pushed for the publication of Kaczynski's "Manifesto", which led to his sister-in-law, and then his brother, recognizing Kaczynski's style of writing and beliefs from the manifesto, and tipping off the FBI. Kaczynski tried unsuccessfully to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers because they wanted to plead insanity in order to avoid the death penalty, as Kaczynski did not believe he was insane. When it became clear that his pending trial would entail national television exposure for Kaczynski, the court entered a plea agreement, under which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. See more »

Goofs

When the detectives go to the physics lab to gather information on Weiss, his desk drawer is locked. When the police move to force it open, another lab employee steps in and opens it. Later, Weiss is confronted with what was found in the drawer as proof that he is guilty of murder. Would not the lab employee's ability to access Weiss's drawer be grounds to nullify its contents as being tied to Weiss as evidence to murder? See more »

Quotes

[after convicting a physics professor of 2nd degree murder]
Ben Stone: But on the other hand he killed a woman, so I had to play it by the book.
Adam Schiff: You feel bad about that?
Ben Stone: Twenty-five years - he's not your typical killer.
Adam Schiff: He is - he killed somebody.
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User Reviews

 
Most entertaining (and educational) L&O episode
6 July 2016 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

As a quantum physics primer, this episode is about as close as network TV is going to get. Where most shows would dumb down the scientific angle, this episode presents proton decay accurately (albeit breezily) in the context of a scientific grudge match between a has-been and a never-was. Harris Yulin made a career out of playing the eminence gris, and he's perfect for the role of the washed-up Edward Manning. Randall Mell as the erstwhile up-and-comer moonlighting as a doorman (looking like an "organ grinder's monkey) is likewise brilliant. Even secondary characters are well cast, such as Jeff Gendleman as the lab rat perpetually chasing his PhD and calls everyone "fella".

The most entertaining moments are shared by the prosecutors who are totally in over their heads. Steven Hill's perpetually jaundiced countenance is particularly priceless. Told that the case essentially comes down to the way protons fall apart, Schiff says "Terrific. Now to win a larceny trial all we have to do is prove how the universe ends."

Of course the case started with a murder of Manning's ex-wife, a bit of collateral damage in "Big Bang" who's all but forgotten by the halfway mark. Manning's remark that a single human life is as nothing in the timescale of the universe is chilling. No human life, it seems, is worth a man's scientific reputation; this, ironically, is what Weiss and Manning share and is their undoing.


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