Judge Victor Valdivia wonders how a good and just God can allow atrocities like this to happen.
Our reviews of CSI: Miami: The Complete First Season (published September 13th, 2004), CSI: Miami: The Complete Second Season (published April 13th, 2005), CSI: Miami: The Complete Third Season (published November 16th, 2005), CSI: Miami: The Complete Fourth Season (published April 25th, 2007), CSI: Miami: The Final Season (published December 16th, 2012), and CSI: Miami: The Ninth Season (published October 13th, 2011) are also available.
A city to die for.
We open on a crime scene in Miami with yellow police tape around. Lt. Horatio Caine (David Caruso, Jade) is standing in the middle, wearing his sunglasses and not doing anything but putting his hands on his hips. Meanwhile, the newest member of the CSI team, Judge Victor Valdivia, is actually doing all the work.
Horatio: What do we have, Mr. Valdivia?
Victor (disgusted): A brutal, horrific crime, H. One of the worst offenses ever perpetrated against the viewing public. Namely, CSI: Miami: The Seventh Season.
Horatio: Yes, it is, Mr. Valdivia. (takes off sunglasses as camera zooms in on him) This time, seven is most assuredly…not…a…lucky…number.
Cue Roger Daltrey scream as opening credits start
Facts of the Case
Victor: Here's what we know, H. This seven-disc set contains all twenty-five episodes from this season—unfortunately. There's the one where a beautiful, scantily clad woman is murdered. There's the other one where a beautiful, scantily clad woman is abducted and murdered. There's also the one where you run into a burning car to save a baby, followed by the one where you run into an exploding house to save a woman. There's even one where a colossal construction crane is used to kill one guy, which I like to call, "Worst Case of Overcompensation Ever!" There's a recurring storyline involving CSIs Calleigh (Emily Procter, Breast Men) and Delko (Adam Rodriguez, Roswell) finally getting together after seven seasons, except it's dragged out pretty much all the way until the end. I could write out summaries for each episode, but that would take too long, mainly because I'm not entirely sure I understood any of them. Here is a listing:
Horatio (puts on sunglasses): What do you think, Mr. Valdivia?
Victor: Frankly, H, I'm torn. Either CSI: Miami is intended as winking, self-aware camp, or it's just staggeringly inept and bombastic in a way hitherto unseen in the Western Hemisphere. In any case, it's the funniest comedy on TV outside of South Park.
Horatio (takes off sunglasses): How do you figure?
Victor: Let's start with the fact that you, H, seem to be some sort of supernatural being who can bend the laws of time and space as needed. In "Smoke Gets in Your CSI's," CSI Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo, Mystic River) is chasing a perp down an alleyway and is just about to catch up to him when, suddenly, out of nowhere, you appear in front of him. In "Resurrection," you fake your own death to mislead an enemy, but then you show up in the CSI lab some ten minutes into the episode to dispense orders. Yet somehow, you manage to keep everyone still believing you're dead, like you have some sort of invisibility cloak. Everyone's talking about how different things are now that you're gone, and you're standing right there! In broad daylight! That's not even to mention the season's best moment: in "Gone, Baby, Gone," a baby is kidnapped and taken in an SUV. You chase the SUV and cause it to crash and roll over three times, then burst into flames. You then dash in and rescue the baby from the SUV, and he's completely unscathed.
Horatio (puts on sunglasses): Reality is what you wish it to be, Mr. Valdivia.
Victor: Yeah, that's another thing. Your entire "performance" in virtually every episode consists of supposedly witty aphorisms delivered in tough-guy mode while you fiddle with your sunglasses, but most of those lines are either superfluous or don't make sense. In "Flight Risk," you confront a suspect who asserts that he has an alibi and says, "You can check that out for yourself!" Your response? You grit your teeth, scowl, and rasp, "I intend to!" Seriously? That's your comeback? Your big line in "Dead on Arrival," about a murdered reality show contestant, is to grit your teeth, scowl, and rasp, "The reality has become real." Uh, what does that even mean, exactly?
Horatio (takes off sunglasses): What about the acting?
Victor: There's part of the problem, H. On one hand, it ranges from wooden to histrionic. On the other hand, given the awful quality of the writing, it's hard to say whether the actors are really to blame. Take poor Emily Procter. She's a beautiful and talented actress who early in her career showed great spark and wit in her performances. Here, she delivers her lines with all the gusto of a hostage being forced to read a communiqué at gunpoint. At the other extreme, Jonathan Togo screams, runs, and smirks in practically every episode, apparently so viewers don't confuse him with his doppelganger, CSI's Eric Szmanda. I also have to give special kudos to Elizabeth Berkley (Showgirls) as your ex-wife, H. Asked to portray a woman suffering from bipolar disorder, she runs the gamut of emotions from inert to inert but slightly huffy.
Horatio (puts on sunglasses): I see, Mr. Valdivia. You mentioned the writing. How is that?
Victor: Jeez, where to start, H? Each episode is a mystery only to the degree that something happens at the beginning and we sort of know the perpetrator by the end. In between, however, you'll see some of the most ridiculous convolutions and half-baked justifications ever written on TV. For instance, "And How Does That Make You Kill?" involves a psychiatrist whose daughter is murdered, a patient with homicidal fantasies, a rich kid who peddles drugs, an ex-con husband and his bitter ex-wife, the theft of some psychiatric files, the psychiatrist's alienated son, and, eventually, the murder of the psychiatrist as well. These all make even less sense in context. What's more, the entire episode, with autopsy, DNA profile, evidence processing, theft, interrogations, confessions, second murder, shootout, more evidence processing, and new arrest and confession, takes place in all of eight hours.
Horatio (takes off sunglasses): Crime doesn't wait, Mr. Valdivia.
Victor: Yeah, but who knew crime was also such a talentless hack? The writers even botch the show's recurring storylines. Fans who have been waiting for Calleigh and Delko to get together will not be pleased that their entire time as a couple adds up to less than 30 minutes stretched out over pretty much the whole season. Way to screw over the only people who really care about this show non-ironically, all seven of them. Furthermore, on this show, even the little details are preposterous. Judging by the production design, Miami is the only city in the United States in which courtrooms are made entirely of glass. How the hell is that a good idea?
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Horatio (puts on sunglasses): What's right about this set?
Victor: Well, H, at least Paramount has done a stellar job of presenting this series on DVD. The anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer is gorgeous, showing off all of the vivid colors and beautiful visuals flawlessly. The 5.1 surround mix is also superb, with enough bass for explosions and shootouts, but also a clever use of surrounds during softer scenes so that you can hear ambient sounds like ringing phones around your head. There's also a good selection of extras. There are three featurettes, "Miami Sound Machine" (30:02), "The New AV Lab" (14:10), and "Heating Up Season Seven" (21:35). The first two address specific aspects of production, mainly visual effects and sound editing, while the third is an overall look at the season with most of the cast and crew. Two episodes, "Wrecking Crew" and "Gone, Baby, Gone," come with commentary tracks by writers, producers, and crew members. These are all informative and well-produced, but a little weird. It's hard to tell if the people who participate actually take the show seriously or understand how ridiculous it is, although it's worth pointing out that Caruso himself does not appear in any of the special features. There's also an option with "Wrecking Crew" to watch the episode with an information track that displays factoids onscreen as it plays.
Horatio (takes off sunglasses): It certainly does, Mr. Valdivia.
Victor (angrily): Put the sunglasses away before I take them away!
Victor: Here's what it comes down to, H: if you already own the previous six seasons of CSI: Miami, then you probably want to get this one. In that case, however, you probably suffer from serious psychological traumas that I simply can't help you with. Actually, maybe no one can. Otherwise, you don't need this set unless you're really that interested in unintentional hilarity.
Horatio (puts on sunglasses): But now the comedy has become real, Mr. Valdivia.
Victor (throwing off badge and gloves): Okay, that does it. I'm outta here. I'm calling Willows over in Las Vegas and asking her if she's got any job openings.
Guilty of crimes too numerous for any human brain to possibly understand.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
• Episode Commentaries
Review content copyright © 2009 Victor Valdivia; Site design and review layout copyright © 2015 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.