Monday, September 13, 2010

Lab Rat: David Phillips

Assistant Coroner David Phillips is the living answer to the geek hero in all of us. Over the years, he helps crack cases, deals gracefully with horrific scenes, wins wide respect and marries a girl who understands him - all without losing his innate nerdy sweetness.

Played by CSI Head Researcher David Berman, David first appears as a well-qualified but junior coroner, assisting with Dr. Al Robbins' work in the morgue. He slips easily into idol-worship, seeking to please his boss and the CSI team, especially supervisor Gil Grissom. Despite this, he is as handy with a comeback as any of his colleagues, and even stands his ground with lab manager Conrad Ecklie when pushed too far.

David is apparently a practicing Jew, based upon his comments that "Every Phillips boy gets a lifetime subscription to "Hux" (a fictional mens' magazine) for his Bar Mitzvah". His father is a colonel at Nellis Air Force Base.

In the early seasons, David is treated as something of a mascot by the CSI team. CSI Sara Sidle gently turns down his clumsy attempt at flirting, but gives him a "C for cute". Whether or not he takes her advice to toughen up, he comes to enjoy the appreciation and respect of his colleagues over the years. His immediate boss, Al Robbins, clearly treats him as more of an equal as the years go by. Nick dubs him "SuperDave", or just "Super" after Davis saves the life of a still-living autopsy subject, while Grissom refers to him as "our excellent assistant coroner and baseball trivia expert."

While seemingly inured to the grotesqueries of death, David is a strongly emotional person, occasionally commenting on the sadness of a crime. He is often seen treating the subjects on his table with tenderness beyond mere respect, especially the young. He is deeply devoted to his colleagues both as workmates and as friends he enjoys helping. He literally tears up at Grissom's farewell: "There's bugs every where, David. ... I will miss you, though."

David engagement and marriage provide for a running gag over the seasons. We never meet David's partner, but he speaks of her with open adoration. From his first retort to Nick's teasing him to get a girlfriend, ("Actually, I'm engaged...?"), his relationship seems to progress quickly and happily. Although his future parents-in-law are less than taken with his career, he describes his girlfriend as someone he can talk to about his work: "She loves this stuff. Why do you think I'm marrying her?". The CSI's seem to realize that their young David is growing up, and their behaviour towards him changes. Catherine and Sara take time to ask him about his wedding plans, and Al occasionally dispenses advice from one married man to another.

Later seasons show David as a happily married man, still nerdy, but without the glasses and extra cuddle factor about the waist, confident in his job - and occasionally slipping out hints about just how happily married he is.


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