In the beginning… there was “CSI.”
The “CSI” TV series that started it all became so incredibly popular that in 2002 the producers decided go the route of “Law and Order” and create a 2nd series utilizing the style of the original. However, to make it a bit different, they changed locations and some of the style and “CSI: Miami” was born. This new series boasted the return of David Caruso to network television after his foray into feature films. He starred as Horatio Caine, the head of Miami’s elite CSI team.
When the network figured out they might have had a real franchise in its hands, they opted to create yet ANOTHER “C.S.I.” series, this time set in New York. My first thought was that enough was enough. I mean how many incarnations of the same idea could you go through before they all became withered imitations of each other? Sure that they network executives really hadn’t thought this through, they moved forward with the project and “C.S.I.: NY” premiered. This time in the lead was veteran film star Gary Sinise as Detective Mac Taylor.
I decided to start watching “C.S.I.: NY” when it began airing and found that I liked it right off the bat. What ended up really making this series work in spite of having to overcome its predecessors was the casting of Sinise. I’ve now learned, by watching each of the shows, that the lead actor really drives the tone of the series. The tone here was much darker than the previous series. Taylor had more of a past that was revealed from the beginning. His wife was killed during 9/11 and so he threw himself completely into his work. He was so focused on getting the ‘bad guy’, that having any kind if life was unthinkable.
He was originally aided in his war on crime by his own team consisting of Detective Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes), Detective Don Flack (Eddie Cahill), Medical Examiner Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper), Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Aiden Burn (Vanessa Ferlito – who later left the series and was replaced by Anna Belknap as Lindsey Monroe). Each of these characters has their own distinctive set of quirks, and like the team in “C.S.I.: Miami”, it took a little while to warm up to them. I liken this to the “Star Trek” franchise, where you immediately took to the original crew because nothing had come before to set up your expectations. Then as each new series aired, the new crew had to grow on you. I do wish to mention I was glad to see the return of Eddie Cahill to network television. After a short stint on “Friends”, Cahill starred as the lead in “Glory Days”, which unfortunately was canceled well before its time.
Watching the 1st season of “C.S.I.: NY”, I’ll have to admit I became a fan much quicker than I did with the middle child, but I think that had a lot to do with the writers learning what mistakes held back “C.S.I.: Miami” at first, and they were able to jump right past those. Now, I mentioned that the show was much darker. That might seem weird as each show is expressively dark due to the nature of the plots…. which are invariably about murder. However, the darkness doesn’t just come in tone and attitude, but overall look. The first series is all glitz and glamour; after all it takes place in Las Vegas. The second is much brighter, fitting in with the sun-drenched shores of Florida. But the New York we see is a dark and grimy place, which is admittedly more of a Hollywood-ized expectation of what the city looks like. Anyone who’s spent time there, knows it isn’t that bad everywhere.
“C.S.I.: NY” was also able to set itself apart when it came to the crimes that it investigated. With so many “C.S.I.” shows out there, the first fear is duplication, but there has been little of that so far.
Paramount is continuing to follow up DVD releases of the various "C.S.I." shows with the eighth season of “C.S.I.: NY” this week. I was thrilled to see this release because I had missed quite a few of them when they aired, and I was finally able to catch up. In the 7th Season of “CSI: NY”, we had bid adieu to Melina Kanakaredes and added the eternally beautiful Sela Ward to the cast as Det. Jo Danville. It was a bit of a rocky start, but her character grew on me as the season went on.
This new 8th season was every bit as powerful as those that had come before and pushed the series even further up the ladder, almost topping the original series on my list. The transfer for all of the 18 episodes presented here share the same high quality I’ve come to expect from Paramount’s earlier releases of the franchise. The widescreen presentations offer rich visuals, in spite of the otherwise drab color palette the series uses to make New York look gritty.
As far as special features, there are sadly… no commentaries. However the featurettes are aren’t too shabby. “The Magic 8” takes us on a little trip thru the new season, while “Honoring Our Heroes” focuses on the 9/11 tragedy and how it ties into the show and was re-created for the season opener. “A New York Halloween” gives us a peek at shooting in a real New York cemetery. “A Flash to the Past” looks at the episode “Flash Pop” and how the show was able to create a look right out of New York 1957. Finally, there are some deleted scenes and a pretty funny Gag Reel.
I will say that I miss what had become CSI trademark packaging early on. They used to feature a DVD case that opened like a book, which allowed you to flip through to each disc. The outer cover had a slipover band label that looked like crime scene tape. They abandoned this design a couple of seasons ago, I’m sure due to costs, but ah well…
“C.S.I.: NY” quickly became my second favorite series of the franchise, though this in no way was meant to sell the recently cancelled “C.S.I.: Miami” short. The characters just came together quicker, and the stories were more compelling. But in the end, I’m glad my two favorites are still around.
Keep It Real
Get Me Out of Here!
Means to an End
Brooklyn ‘Til I Die
The Ripple Effect
Starring: Gary Sinise, Sela Ward, Eddie Cahill, Hill Harper, Carmine Giovinazzo, Anna Belknap
Extras: The Magic 8; Honoring Our Heroes; A New York Halloween; Flash to the Past; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel
Specifications: Widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Release Date: 9/25/2012
MPAA Rating: NR