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CSI Miami - The Complete First Season Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 June 2004

C.S.I. Miami - The Complete First Season

Paramount Home Video/CBS
MPAA rating: NR
original release year: 2002-2003
DVD release year: 2004
film rating: Three-and-a-Half Stars
sound/picture rating: Four Stars
reviewed by: Bryan Dailey

On an episode of “Saturday Night Live’s” faux news program Weekend Update, anchorman Jimmy Fallon joked that in an attempt to bolster their morning show’s sagging ratings, CBS was changing the show’s name to “C.S.I. the Early Show.” This joke came not long after CBS announced that they were doing a spin-off of the most popular show on television, the original “C.S.I.” For the few of you who have been living in a cave for the last five years, “C.S.I. (Crime Scene Investigation)” is an hour-long drama about forensic scientists working in Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, this show caught on like wildfire and quickly overtook “Friends,” “Survivor” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” to become the routinely most watched show each week in America. With production values and writing that is better than many feature-length movies, “C.S.I.” had spin-off written all over it. The real motivation behind the creation of “C.S.I. Miami,” as we learn in the commentary track of the pilot episode of this seven-DVD set, is the fact that the head of CBS Television, Les Moonves, told the “C.S.I.” producers that he loved the fact that the Vegas show has put CBS on the top of the television ratings and he wanted to see if they could make lighting strike twice.

Towards the end of the second season of the Las Vegas “C.S.I.” show, a twist happened that brought the team out to Miami. The shows basically overlapped, as the pilot episode of “CSI: Miami,” appropriately titled “Cross-Jurisdictions,” was the second to last episode of the second season of C.S.I. The plot that allowed the shows to overlap was based loosely on the murder of Gianni Versace, as we learn that the killer up and left Las Vegas for the glamorous and often times gritty city of Miami.

The leader of the C.S.I. crew in Vegas is the highly intellectual and stoic Gil Grissom, played by William Petersen, who is one of the show’s executive producers. He proved he could play this type of role to a T with his starring role in Michael Mann’s film “Manhunter,” where he played Will Graham, the man who was responsible for putting the infamous Hannibal Lecter behind bars. Petersen didn’t light up the screen and become the big movie star that many predicted he would, but his gutsy, understated performance in that film is exactly what he brings to the role in “C.S.I.” With such an intelligent leader heading up the cast in Vegas, the producers of “C.S.I.” needed a lead actor for the spin-off who would similarly command the screen and catch people’s attention and, most importantly, could walk the walk and talk the talk at a crime scene. They found just that man in former “NYPD Blue” veteran David Caruso. With an acclaimed season of an hour-long cop drama (albeit one that ended controversially for him) under his belt, watching Caruso assume the role of “C.S.I. Miami” leader Horatio Cain is like seeing Randy Johnson take the mound in a Saturday afternoon double header. Caruso has all the timing, the moves and the lingo down to make you really believe he is knee deep in a murder investigation. The main difference between his role in “NYPD Blue” and his role in “C.S.I. Miami” is he now gets to go after criminals with his brain and fingerprint dusting kit. He does occasionally have to pull the gun out of his holster and fire some rounds at the bad guys, but for the most part, it’s an intellectual chess game. This is one the primary differences between the shows, as we learn that the C.S.I. workers in Miami are actually police officers with the ability to arrest suspects, so the Miami version ends up being more of a one-hour police action drama with the forensics often taking a back seat to a good old-fashioned shoot ‘em up in the Everglades or mean streets of urban Florida.

Like “C.S.I.” before it, “C.S.I. Miami” brings us a combination of fresh-faced actors and a few fairly familiar faces. Aside from Caruso, the first season’s most well-known supporting actress was also an “NYPD Blue” alumnus, Kim Delaney, who unfortunately left the “C.S.I. Miami” after only 10 episodes, with many speculating that creative differences with Caruso were to blame. The chemistry between these two actors does not even compare to that of Petersen and Marg Helgenberger, who plays Katherine Willows, the lead female C.S.I. in Vegas, but the fact that Caruso and Delaney had been paired together in one of TV’s most successful hour-long police shows seemed like a promising piece of casting work. Other cast members on the show include Emily Procter, formerly of the NBC hit show “The West Wing,” who plays ballistics expert Calleigh Duquesne, as well as Khandi Alexander from “News Radio,” who plays coroner Alexx Woods, Adam Rodriguez from the show “Roswell” as the underwater diving evidence collector Eric Delko and Rory Cochrane as Tim "Speed" Speedle.

To keep up with the original “C.S.I.”’s number one Nielsen ratings, the Miami version of the show would need to come to the table with good writing and fresh ideas. Including the pilot episode, Season One consists of 24 episodes with plotlines ranging from the C.S.I. crew examining the wreckage of a private airplane over a swamp in an episode named “Golden Parachute” to a special 75-minute finale called “Body Count,” where a murder in a correctional facility turns out to be a diversion as several convicts pull off a highly complex escape plan.

The show takes full advantage of its setting with big vibrant colors. Deep turquoise blue aerial shots of the ocean, stunning orange sunsets and lush green tropical plants give the show is distinct look. Many of the show’s investigations seem to occur during the day, while the Vegas crew tends to nab their criminals under the bright lights of the Vegas strip by night.

The packaging for “C.S.I. Miami” is a beautiful jewel case with clear plastic foldout trays that contain the seven discs. The colors and images on the case are on par with the production values of the shows, but the bonus features on the final disc of the set are fairly skimpy, with two short making-of documentaries that don’t shed too much light on the show and a few educational pieces that will help a generation of kids who find themselves much more interested in science now that two of the top-rated shows on TV are about forensic science. When “L.A. Law” was at its height of popularity, a new generation of kids enrolled in law school and with the recent success of “C.S.I.” and “C.S.I. Miami”, I wouldn’t be surprised to see enrollment in chemistry and physics classes rising.

Although it lives in the shadow of the original “C.S.I.”, “C.S.I. Miami” holds it own as a show with its own legs to stand on. It’s more of an action-based police drama than the original series is and, although the characters don’t have quite the same level of development that they have in the original series, “C.S.I. Miami” is absolutely worth examining. If you are a football fan, you probably spent your Monday evenings watching Monday Night Football, so you owe it to yourself to pick up this DVD set and see what you missed.

more details
sound format: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish 2.0
aspect ratio: 1.85:1, enhanced for 16x9 displays
special features: “Cross Jurisdiction” Commentary by executive producers Danny Cannon and Ann Donohue; “Golden Parachute” Commentary by director Joe Chappelle and writer Steve Maeda; “Dispo Day” Commentary by David Grossman and consultant Elizabeth Devine; “Freaks and Tweaks” Commentary by technical consultants Elizabeth Devine and John Haynes; Two Featurettes, “CSI: Miami Uncovered” and “Creating CSI Miami”; Procedures of Handling Evidence Featurette
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 36-inch Sony XBR

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