Wednesday, October 19, 2005


The Evidence is a new TV crime drama set in San Francisco. Except that it films in Vancouver. It's cheaper that way. For obvious reasons like Canada doesn't have an orange vermilion Art Deco suspension bridge or a pointy bank building, some scenes must be shot in SF.

Where CSI finds a fragment of fabric, a spent 10mm bullet, or a tri-lobal fiber (my personal favorite); they then piece the mystery together one scrap at a time. In The Evidence all of the forensic bits are given to the viewer up front and the solution is worked out backwards in time.

Today we are shooting exteriors, scenes that must be filmed out of doors. My call time is 6:00am. I arrive at a rented parcel of PacBell park (the "crew lot") at 5:58am and am told by the guard to stand and wait for the min-van to take us to set. "It'll be here any minute," he assures me. More actors arrive. We stand. At 6:30am Pinkerton's radio crackles and we overhear that there is a big problem. The trucks carrying the gear needed to be in place at 5:00am and they are nowhere to be seen. It is declared we are an hour and a half behind schedule and I haven't even left the parking lot. Show business is very glamorous.

By 9:00am we have been fitted by Wardrobe and are stationed in a cold, dank alley underneath a freeway overpass. I am dressed in a starched white lab coat with a blue stethoscope draped around my neck. A very official red and yellow laminated badge is clipped to my shirt pocket. It tells me that I am a physician at a non-existent San Francisco hospital, my name is Nick Pallo, and the photo ID is that of a 30-year-old Asian man who looks like he needs a cup of coffee.

In the scene we are about to shoot our hero detectives are called in to investigate a dead woman laying in the street. All the actors are jealous of who is playing The Dead Body. She's a fragile looking 20-something blonde wearing a sweater with the biggest red splotch that I have ever seen except for that time I barfed spaghetti sauce into my bookcase. We all admire her ability to lay on the pavement and not blink.

The scene is very impressive looking. There are three fake police cars with their red and blue flashers strobing, a fake news crew being fake held back, and a fake ambulance that I am manning. Every couple of takes the dramatically wet asphalt dries a little and a man wearing a portable water tank spritzes the ground with a mini-hose and makes little puddles. This is his job. I call him Aqua Man. Much of the water runs off to the curb where my ambulance is parked. Over time this accumulates into a deep pothole, and in a clumsy moment my left foot steps into this pothole and I am soaked to the sock. I grab a towel from the ambulance and wipe my shoe off. The prop master sees this and comes over and yells at me. "These are not towels for your personal use, they are PROPS." I apologize to him for my misuse of the stunt towels.

Ten takes and two hours later the camera is being repositioned for a reverse angle of the exact same scene. The fake E.R. nurse and I are chatting. We have invented a game whereby during takes we speak very doctorly and see who can make the other person laugh. She won on the previous take while asking urgently for "a 20cc anal swab". We laugh some more and the director yells at us.

Should you ever need to ask for my medical advice, please remember that I am not a doctor, but I do play one on TV.

The Evidence will premiere on ABC on December 1st.