Paramount // 2010 // 960 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // October 20th, 2011
Justice. In a New York minute.
Mac Taylor and his team are back with a full season of exciting and challenging new cases, character-driven storytelling and a new addition. But how easy is it to improve on an already stellar sixth season?
All 22 episodes of Season Seven are spread over seven discs as follows:
* "The 34th Floor"
* "Unfriendly Chat"
* "Damned If You Do"
* "Sangre por Sangre"
* "Out of the Sky"
* "Do Not Pass Go"
* "Hide Sight"
* "Scared Stiff"
* "Shop Till You Drop"
* "To What End?"
* "Holding Cell"
* "Party Down"
* "Smooth Criminal"
* "The Untouchable"
* "Do or Die"
* "Identity Crisis"
* "Food for Thought"
* "Nothing for Something"
* "Life Sentence"
* "Exit Strategy"
When I reviewed Season Six, I stated that was the series' best so far, but that statement needs an update. Welcome to CSI: NY: The Seventh Season. As high as the bar has been set to date, the producers, cast, and crew have managed to push it up yet another level, all while adding a new core character to the established CSI: NY family.
Enter Jo Danville (Sela Ward, The Fugitive), a seasoned former FBI agent and skilled psychiatrist. Wasting no time to mourn the departure of their beloved Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes, Clash of the Titans) who left to head up a new team in New Orleans (a.k.a. not renewing her contract), the writers introduced Jo to fans at the very beginning of the season premiere. Thrown in head-first, Jo finds herself alone in the lab and the first person to find a dead body. Introduced gradually to the team throughout the pilot, she was a surprise breath of fresh air most fans would neither have expected or felt the show needed at this stage. Chalk it up to a crack production team realizing that taking their show to the next level just might require a fundamental shake-up for the core cast.
Allow me a moment to gush about Sela Ward if I may: she's nothing short of a spectacular addition to CSI: NY! The character of Jo Danville was tailor made for Ward's wry sense of humor, pleasant demeanour, and consummate skill as an actor. Even in a role as seemingly insignificant as Dr. Richard Kimble's wife in The Fugitive Ward stood out as someone well worth watching. Even on an otherwise forgettable series like Once and Again, Ward made a difference, raising the level of an otherwise average series. Watching the extra features on this release, it's clear Ward's cast mates and the show's producers couldn't be happier having her join the CSI: NY family. This addition is exactly what we didn't know the series needed: an actor of the same caliber as Gary Sinise to not only match him note for note, but also to challenge the whole cast to consistently bring their "A" game. And given the inherent darkness of much of the series' storylines, Ward's lightness has been a welcome spoonful of sugar to help with the weekly dose of medicine.
CSI: NY: The Seventh Season also carried on the series' tradition of bringing some solid guests stars on board, raising the celebrity guest appearance total to 58 in just seven years. This season, actors Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), Peter Fonda (Easy Rider), and John Larroquette (Boston Legal) all made appearances on the show, starring in single, double and triple episode arcs respectively. It's a testament to the professionalism and talent exhibited on this series that even seasoned character actors jump at the opportunity to make an appearance, not to mention how a role on an award-winning series could help their careers (wink, wink).
The broader themes that wove through this season involved the past coming back to haunt the characters, work/life balance and renewal. Mac and Detective Don Flack (Eddie Cahill, Friends) were both faced with past relationships intruding on present time, forcing them to revisit the decisions they made and either stand by them or make amends. Work/life balance became factors for Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo, Black Hawk Down) and Lindsay (Anna Belknap, Deadine), as they recovered from the tragedy that almost claimed their family and Danny worked towards his promotion; Sheldon finally realized what he'd been missing in the lab when he fell in love, forcing him to make some tough decisions; and Mac (Gary Sinise, Forrest Gump) came to a crossroads in his career at the end of Season Six, leaving him and the fans wondering whether enough was finally enough. Then along came Jo Danville, bringing a renewing breath of fresh air and a much-needed levity and lightness to the team, providing perspective and a maternal influence.
CSI: NY: The Seventh Season is a worthy addition to the shelves of any CSI fan and CBS has once again delivered the goods. Picture quality is sharp, colors and contrast are spot-on, and the audio mix rounds things out nicely, delivering a well-balanced combination of dialogue, music and atmospheric effects. Hold onto your hats kids, as the special features clock in above average for a TV release at just under an hour with the following: "Seventh Deadly Season" takes an in-depth look behind the scenes, talking to cast, crew and producers, sharing their thoughts on the season's highlights, important character beats, strong writing, and the addition of Sela Ward to the cast; "New in Town: Jo Danville" profiles the newest member of the CSI: NY team; "An Extended Visit: John Larroquette Comes to CSI: NY" takes a quick look at Larroquette's two-episode appearance, sharing both his own thoughts and those of the existing cast and crew; "Under the Microscope: Gary's Band" looks beyond the show to see how Sinise and his band have performed for troops around the world; "Under the Microscope: Celebrating the Show's 150th Episode" examines how the series has remained true to its procedural roots, while introducing deeper character stories over time; "Wild Ride: On the Set With Peter Fonda" shows how Fonda, a long-time fan of the series, was delighted to have an opportunity to make a short but impactful appearance; and finally, we have the requisite "Gag Reel," which, as far as I'm concerned, could disappear from these kinds of releases from now on. For some reason, there are no commentary tracks included this time, as there have been in the past.
Just when we thought CSI: NY couldn't get any better, they raise the bar again and surprise us all. I have high hopes that we will be enjoying this great series for years to come.
Not guilty, on the ground of being way too awesome!
Review content copyright © 2011 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 960 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Gag Reel