Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dr. Albert Robbins

Clark County Coroner Dr Albert "Al" Robbins is a gentle, professorial presence in the autopsy bay and a worthy adversary on the witness stand. His particular brand of whimsy and his ability to explore and unravel the most awful violent causes of death make him a pillar of the CSI's professional support team. He considers himself a team-player, however, CSI Supervisor Gil Grissom points out that one doesn't become County Coroner without being competitive.

We know more about Al's personality and acumen than we do his personal life. In totality, we know Al has been married "forever" to his wife Judith, with whom he has three children, and that they once considered buying a house in the tony Henderson area. Their youngest is described as being fourteen years old, in an early-season episode. He invests a great deal in his family, working hard on his marriage (regular counselling, separate vacations once a year, adopting a healthier lifestyle at his wife's urging). While the actor's own legs were amputated following a car accident, we do not hear Al explain his prosthetics to the other characters - although he occasionally pops his leg back on or grouses about finding it hard to bend his knees. He also wears a pacemaker due to congenital bradycardia. An itinerant musician, Al plays and sings in a classic rock band in his spare time, taking local gigs around town.

Al enjoys a more casual, open friendship with CSI supervisor Gil Grissom than many others do, in part due to their similar ages, but also their mutual scientific fascination with the gruesome elements of their jobs. The two share a deep professional respect that lets them argue cases out, and occasionally let their hair down - cracking awful jokes over crime scenes, chasing a rat all over the coroner's suite, and in one case, singing together in tribute over the body of a murdered rock star.

Al acts as a big brother to assistant supervisor Catherine Willows, making pointed suggestions to her about not saying goodbye to her deceased ex-husband in the morgue, or using a dead body to scare her daughter into less risky behaviour. Perhaps most importantly, he takes an avuncular interest in his protegee, assistant coroner David Phillips, who progresses from a shy, overeager youth to a confident, happily married man over the years.

Al has, in all likelihood, the strongest stomach in the building, and an admirable emotional capability at dealing with the most horrific crimes upon a human body. He barely notices all but the very worst stench of decomposition. Though sometimes grumpy, the only time we see Al reach his emotional limit is during the investigation into CSI Warrick Brown's death, at which point Al hands the autopsy duty over to the day-shift coroner, though he receives Warrick's body at the autopsy bay as a sort of honour guard.

While not a CSI, Al is considered part of the team, and gives the CSI's free access to the coroner's suite whenever they need to come in. He adores his job and the team, and declares to himself that he "is never going to retire." In recent days, we see him giving a warm welcome to the newest CSI, ex-physician Raymond Langston, as a fellow medical man and contemporary


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