Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead
Tune In
Season 11
Number 16
Writer Tom Mularz
Director Paul McCrane
Original Airdate February 24, 2011
Previous Episode: Targets of Obsession
Next Episode: The List

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead is the sixteenth episode in Season Eleven of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


When two people who were thought to be dead come back to life, the evidence leads CSI back to a discredited ex-professor who conducted bizarre death-related experiments in the 1970s.


Victims: Max Ferris and Kurt Dawson (both initially deceased)

On the case: entire team

The news reports on serial killer Nate Haskell’s escape from prison, but life—and death—must go on in the Las Vegas Crime Lab. A man is found dead on the sidewalk near the Strip, and he gets zipped into a body bag and brought in for an autopsy. David Phillips receives a phone call, and while he’s talking, the man gets up and walks away. Upon seeing the body come to life, David passes out. He later tells Doc Robbins that he was unable to get a fingerprint or blood sample from the victim and that the victim didn't have any I.D. on him.

There's no sign of the man in the building, and an EMT tells Doc Robbins that she was sure the victim had flatlined at the scene. The only clues they have about their mysterious zombie is a notebook filled with strange writing and surveillance footage that proves a dead man walked out of the morgue. Meanwhile, Sara heads into an alley to look at another victim, but when she arrives, the body is gone. Surveillance footage reveals that he, too, got up and walked away, but Officer Mitchell swears the man had no pulse. The team has two zombies in one night.

The team gets no hits from either victim in CODIS and Henry finds nothing suspicious in the tox panels from the little DNA evidence they have. Greg searches for key terms found in the notebook and finds information about secret government tests which took place at WLVU in the early 1970s. Researchers were exploring a variety of fringe psych concepts such as ESP and out-of-body experience. One of the most notable psychologists involved was Dr. Eliot Aden, and Langston sees that the initials on the book recovered from zombie #1 are "EDA." The doctor was involved with the secret tests before a student committed suicide and the school cut all ties with him. Greg is able to track down Dr. Aden's current location.

Langston and Sara go to see Dr. Aden, who is upset that he had been lied to—the university had told him that they destroyed all of his work, something that clearly isn't true. His interest is piqued when informed that someone recently rose from the dead. Dr. Aden recognizes the older handwriting in the book as his own, but the newer entries are definitely not his. Someone must've picked up his research, which he says isn't good, as they don't know what they're getting themselves into. Langston and Sara take Dr. Aden to the WLVU campus, and they discover that his research lab is exactly the way he left it—with a few changes, such as some recently-eaten food and evidence that someone was looking up the doctor's research on death-related phenomena. Meanwhile, the first zombie victim is identified as Max Ferris, a WLVU graduate student in the psychology department.

A man stole Max’s wallet while he was lying on the ground, and the team is able to track him when he uses Max’s credit card. He also took a wearable camcorder, and the video on the camcorder reveals that Max and two other students named Kurt and Alice took some sort of drug. Their goal was to "free themselves from the physical plane" and take a step into death. Catherine notes that the clothes Kurt was wearing match the clothes on their "alley zombie." The video shows Max walking around for 20 minutes until he collapses on the sidewalk where he was discovered.

Meanwhile, Sara and Langston follow Dr. Aden as he searches for something. They find a tank filled with poisonous fish, which proves that someone has been there recently on a regular basis. Dr. Aden darts away when he hears a vibration, and he locates the sensory deprivation tank he used many years ago. The second zombie victim, Kurt Dawson, is found dead inside the tank. Sara finds it odd that Kurt was in the tank fully clothed.

In autopsy, infrared photos taken of Kurt's body show hand prints on his back and shoulders, indicating he was held down. Doc Robbins pronounces the cause of death as drowning. Henry finds traces of tetrodotoxin, LSD, and cannabis in Kurt's blood. He explains that tetrodotoxin is 1200 more times more toxic than cyanide and is found in sea creatures, such as the ones found earlier. Based on the half-life of the toxin, the amount found in Kurt's system would've incapacitated him 16 hours ago, consistent with the time he was found in the alley.

Nick and Sara find footprints inconsistent with Kurt's. When combined with a blue fiber on the ground that matches the clothes Max was wearing in the morgue, they hypothesize that Max was in the sensory deprivation tank and got into a drug-induced fight with Kurt. Max won the fight, took his clothes, and left and the lab. Nick finds the camera Kurt was wearing on the ground nearby.

Langston speaks with Dr. Aden, who watches the video from Max’s camcorder and says Max didn’t prepare the others for what they were getting into. After Kurt survived the nightmare induced by the drugs he took, he must've attacked Max—but Max got the upper hand. When Dr. Aden remarks that the "reckless master killed the wronged squire," Langston compares this incident to the one Dr. Aden had years ago at WLVU when a student of his committed suicide.

The third student in the video is identified as Alice Katsu, a biochemistry major whose mother died five months ago. Alice was trying to peek into death to find her mother, so the team visits her mother’s grave to see if she went there after taking the drugs. They find someone in the cemetery—Max. When confronted, he runs out into the road and gets hit by a car, which kills him instantly. They now have two dead bodies, and Alice is still missing.

A notebook in Alice’s bedroom matches Dr. Aden’s handwriting, but the ink is new. Evidence shows that she contacted Dr. Aden online after her mother died and said she wanted to continue his work. She found Max and Kurt and got them involved. Kurt’s camcorder footage has interference from Alice’s camera, and for a moment the team is able to catch a glimpse of what she saw: Dr. Aden’s car.

Langston and Sara go to Dr. Aden’s house and find a series of videos featuring Alice acting as the subject for Dr. Aden's reality-altering experiments. The latest video is from earlier that day, and it features the doctor saying he'll stop taking false journeys and go all the way into death with the aid of drugs. The pair find him comatose in a chair outside; he has a faint pupil response, but he’ll probably never recover. Nick goes back to WLVU and into Dr. Aden’s old research lab. Alice is found alive and tells Nick that she found her mother on the other side, but her mother told her to go back. She wants to tell Max and Kurt what she saw, but Nick tells her they aren’t coming back.

Back in the morgue, Doc Robbins tells Langston that all of the kids' visions could be explained by neuroscience and that they weren't really venturing to the other side. The two talk about death, and Langston says evil people deserve what they get, either in this life or the next. Doc Robbins tells Langston to be careful because evil can take hold of good people and drag them down.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

Episode Title[]

  • The title is derived from the saying "Turn on, turn in, drop out," popularized by Timothy Leary, who was known for experimenting with LSD and other psychedelic drugs.


  • David is about to perform an autopsy. He's been touching the body, clothes, and personal effects, when he gets a call, transferring germs to the phone, leaving himself and others liable to pick up the germs.


  • At one point, Dr. Aden exclaims that the treatment of his work is like "Philo Farnsworth all over again". Philo Farnsworth was an eccentric inventor who had to spend many years in court battling with the RCA corporation to finally receive the credit for inventing television.
  • Randall Park played Alice Katsu's father, Scott. He's best known for portraying Louis Huang in the sitcom Fresh Off the Boat.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 11
Shock WavesPool SharkBlood MoonSqweegelHouse of HoardersCold BloodedBump and GrindFrackedWild Life418/427Man UpA Kiss Before FryingThe Two Mrs. GrissomsAll That CremainsTargets of ObsessionTurn On, Tune In, Drop DeadThe ListHitting for the CycleUnleashedFather of the BrideCello and GoodbyeIn a Dark, Dark House