Case Number 08092: Small Claims Court


Paramount // 2004 // 1011 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // November 30th, 2005

The Charge

"What you do affects everyone here. You got it?" -- Detective Mac Taylor

The Case

The third and latest entry in the CSI catalog bases its tales of forensic know-how in the magical locale of New York City. Led by Det. Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise, Forrest Gump), the science detectives of the NYPD bring light to a place of great darkness answering the "hows" and "whos" of crime through all 24 episodes of CSI: NY: The Complete First Season.

As a franchise begins to replicate, it inevitably causes viewers to compare each entry against the other. CSI: NY falls into the same trap. How does it stack up? The New York entry falls somewhere between the original CSI and CSI: Miami. CSI: NY tries its best to set itself apart from the others through its palette, cast, and using New York as a character. On the down side, at times the show tries too hard.

Spawned from a CSI: Miami episode, "MIA/NYC Non-Stop," the New York version begins recycling its "we're-not-like-the-other-two-and-yet..." attitude that permeates the series. In the backdoor pilot, Det. Taylor is paired with the jaundiced and slow-toned Miami Detective Horatio Caine (David Caruso, NYPD Blue) in the hunt for a mobile killer. Every scene between the two forcefully makes the viewer admit the two main detectives and shows are completely different animals. It's clichéd, desperate, and sad attempt at launching a series. This review won't spoil the end of the episode, but a five-year-old could solve it. An episode of Blue's Clues proves more challenging.

Once the show stands on its own, it improves. Using a blue-grey color palette, the episodes look amazing. The hues encourage depression and add to the bleak feel of the city and its stories of death. Considering the majority of shooting on the series is done in Los Angeles, the production team behind the camera fakes New York successfully.

Making New York a character isn't novel to television. The Law & Order shows and NYPD Blue do so wonderfully. CSI: NY unapologetically, blatantly reminds the viewer of the city's setting, hurting the show in the long run. I know where the show takes place -- it's in the title.

Gary Sinise keeps the cast together. He and his second-in-command, Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakeredes, Providence), are given the most evolved characters to play. Hill Harper, as the team's medical examiner, does what he can with a limited role. The rest of the cast is reduced to one-liners and forced exposition that leave little room for character development. The interpersonal relationships are strong, particularly in how Sinise's and Kanakeredes' characters balance professionalism with friendship. Realistically, not everyone gets along, something the show plays up occasionally.

The strongest episodes this season include:

* "Rain" -- Ever wonder what precipitation can do to a crime scene?
* "Night, Mother" -- Taylor vs. sleepwalking.
* "On the Job" -- CSI Danny Messer becomes a suspect in a shoot-out.
* "Hush" -- Taylor and Bonasera try to put a man together again.

A "CSI" show wouldn't be a "CSI" show without its use of science and technology. I will never, ever tire of seeing gadgetry and intelligence in action. Also included is the requisite song by The Who, "Baba O'Reilly," and an eye-catching introduction. "Behind Blue Eyes" would have made more sense, but being less bombastic and recognized, lost out.

Special features include commentaries on seven episodes and five featurettes on the making of the show. The commentaries are informative but repetitive. Still, viewers will learn tidbits and trivia, such as Sinise's admiration of the late President Ronald Regan and how he used that in Taylor's character. The featurettes also grow repetitive. The "Cast Examines the Characters" and "The World's Largest Crime Scene" featurettes are worth viewing.

The transfer on this video is strong. Presented in 16:9, the picture comes in strong. The sound is equally impressive with no pops, hisses, or other problems.

CSI: NY -- The Complete First Season is show off to a decent start. For CSI fans it's a good companion show worth checking out. Case dismissed.

Review content copyright © 2005 David Gutierrez; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 80

Perp Profile
Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* None

Running Time: 1011 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Episode Commentaries
* "The Cast Examines the Characters" Featurette
* "The Science Behind the Scenes" Featurette
* "CSI: NY -- Set Tour" Featurette
* "The World's Largest Crime Scene" Featurette
* "The Zoo Year"

* IMDb

* CSI: NY Official Site

* CSI: NY Episode Guide