CSI, and Tarantino's midas touch...

A major television event happened earlier this evening on Channel 5 - the season finale of America's top-rated crime show. Business as usual? Well, not really. CSI has always been consistently excellent. Like it's competitors Law & Order, Cold Case and it's own spin-offs, the appeal never seems to diminish. That's largely due to the high production values, intelligent writing, and high-calibre performances...

Therefore, it was pretty exciting when Quentin Tarantino announced he was directing a two-part season closer, called Grave Danger. This would put one of the CSI boys through the emotional ringer - as Nick Stokes (George Eads) was buried alive; with the clock ticking down to his demise, and a ransom for $1 million placed with Las Vegas PD. It was a welcome twist in a show not exactly known for it's "character stories". Recently, it has touched on the character's lives, but CSI is largely about the cases, and not the soap opera aspects that usually define popular telly. But this was an emotional rollercoaster for any long-time fan - we care about these characters, no matter how little they've developed in 5 years - and Tarantino milked the situation for every last drop of suspense.

Even though I can safely say QT is a brilliant director, there are those who don't appreciate his work, and in most cases, I can see their reasoning. Tarantino utilises all of his trademarks in this episode; most of which are an acquired taste. There was the non-linear structure at the start, his ode for pop-culture references (hearing the delightfully stoic Grissom talk about Roy Rogers was a surprise), and the usual quota of hardened violence. It's all there, but it still felt very much like your normal CSI episode. Yet, a twisted dream sequence toward the end was definitely out of left-field - it was pure QT, and might have upset some who are used to the "realistic" nature of the show. Me? I thought it was hilarious...

In most respects, Tarantino did an outstanding job.

Before I conclude, I should probably mention the cast, who in most respects, exceeded Tarantino for overall impact. William Petersen has always been an intriguing actor, and his turn as Grissom has created a modern gem in the genre - a man dedicated to his work, who rarely lets the reality of his job sink-in. His signs of emotion in the conclusion seemed genuine; the same for Marg Helgenberger (Catherine) and Gary Dourdan (Warrick), who really came into their own for this instalment. But the episode belongs to Eads, who managed to project the character's fear with skill, upping the tension admirably. Cameos from Tony Curtis, John Saxon and the late Frank Gorshin merely helped to give the episode some extra class.

If you're a CSI fanatic, you probably tuned-in, but if you didn't, it's well worth hunting down. Even fans of the director are advised to seek it out - rarely is television so exciting these days, and when QT is behind the wheel, you can always expect fireworks...

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