CSI: Miami Season 3 Part 1 Review

CSI is losing me. Not that, with the millions of viewers that have remained with it over the years, they'll miss me but I'm falling out of love with it nonetheless. After six seasons, I'm finally tiring of the lack of character development in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation with the brushing over of the breaking up of Grissom's team being the final straw. CSI: New York, despite a great first season, isn't quite the same since someone switched the lights on, moved the lab into a glossy high-rise and out of a building that had resembled a dungeon. Again, without explanation and as if, with a break of only six months, we would forget everything about the previous season. CSI hasn't quite reached the stage where Dallas once was, wherein Miss Ellie was replaced by an entirely different actress without the cast noticing, but it can't be far off.

But it was with CSI: Miami that I first made my excuses and it began with this season and no further in than its first episode. Spoiler it may be but there's no way to discuss the third season of CSI: Miami without revealing that Tim Speedle (Rory Cochrane) is shot dead in its first episode. The loss of a major character isn't that rare in mainstream dramas but it's unfortunate when a show loses the only member of the cast worth caring about. Perhaps it was the memory of Cochrane as the incomprehensible stoner in Dazed And Confused, maybe it was his charming performance in this show's first season, where, with a embarrassment that was all too human, he fell in love with a porn star but couldn't commit to her. He may just have been the right mix of inexperience and humour that the show needed but not even thirty minutes into Lost Son, he was gone and CSI: Miami lost much of what made it, if not enjoyable, then certainly acceptable.

After all, who was left? Alexx Woods, the coroner who begins each autopsy with a, "Hello baby...and what happened you?" to the corpse? Ballistics expert or not, the gun fetishism of Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter) doesn't sit so well this side of the Atlantic while if you found yourself working with Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez), you would resign. As for Horatio Caine, there are tribes in deepest, darkest Amazonia who, on seeing David Caruso, would, amidst giggling and in a language formed from clicks and whistles, pronounce him to be an arse.

Again, it's Caruso that's the problem, even to ruining the aftermath of Speedle's shooting, which, given its importance in the show, ends up crippling CSI: Miami as a whole. It's worth describing the moments after Speedle's shooting just to understand how woefully Caruso plays it. At first, he objects to leaving, saying that Speedle's body is still warm. As a CSI, he really ought to know that the minutes immediately after a shooting is the perfect time to begin working the scene of a crime but it takes another character to remind him of this. Going outside, he approaches the owner of the premises on which Speedle was shot and killed and, giving him the kind of half-hearted shove you won't have seen since you were last in the playground, he says..."I'm going to put you in the car!" Another actor might have lost control, either by drawing his weapon or simply by breaking down and crying but not Caruso. Caine keeps his word and he puts him in the car. The weeping of an audience of millions - directed more at Caruso's hopeless acting than at Cochrane's death - could, I'm sure, he heard even in space.

"I'm going to put you in the car!" So I walked away from CSI: Miami and never returned, at least not until now. The producers replaced Speedle with Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo) and good though he is, he's a touch too much of a geek for the show. Like Greg Sanders, he'd have worked better in Las Vegas than in Miami where his odd enthusiasm for the job would have suited the environment. In amongst the Lamborghinis, the beachside mansions and the very beautiful people, Wolfe looks very out of place. But so too does Caine and that's a shame as there's a couple of very good episodes in here. Lost Son really isn't bad, Under The Influence and Hell Night are both twisty little thrillers and Pirated is amongst the very best CSI episodes that I've seen. On the other hand, though, there's Crime Wave that ends with Horatio Caine driving his car - a Hummer - through an imploding hotel in search of a man being held hostage and which may be the most ridiculous moment not only in CSI but in any mainstream television show. I can take the new Miss Ellie, I can even take the alien spaceship of The Colbys but Horatio Caine driving his enormous Hummer through a building as it collapses around him is either the punch line to a gag that was building for over two seasons or someone's very bad idea. I suspect it was the latter and that someone was probably David Caruso so, like Rory Cochrane, it was definitely time to walk away.



Episode Guide

Lost Son (40m54s): It's a beautiful weekend and Floridians are leaving Miami for the Keys but as the traffic piles up, a yacht crashes into a bridge on the Kennedy way. The CSIs find that the driver of the boat had been shot dead shortly before the collision and, visiting his home, discover that he had been carrying a ransom payment - millions of dollars worth of diamonds in exchange for his kidnapped son. But the boy is still missing, his father is dead and the diamonds are worthless fakes. Caine and Speedle visit the jewelry shop involved in events but there's a tragic turn of events as a routine investigation goes terribly wrong.

Pro Per (42m18s): An ocean-side party at the home of Dennis de Labeque is fatally interrupted when a boat passes by, from which a gunman sprays the crowd killing one woman. Gathering evidence, including learning that gunfire was returned from the de Labeque's house, Caine brings in Byron Middlebrook but is surprised when he chooses to defend himself in court. There is only one witness - the dead woman's young son - but Caine would rather he didn't testify leaving him with only the evidence to make the case.

Under the Influence (42m20s): A frightened woman walks quickly through a crowd before stopping on the pavement at a crossing point. But as a bus approaches, she is pushed in front of it. At first, there's mention of suicide but when Alexx finds a hand-shaped bruise on the dead woman's back, it's clear that she was pushed. The prime suspect would appear to be the dead woman's boyfriend, Jay, but during an interview, he claims that he has a stalker and directs Caine towards her. But rather than walking away, Jay hires a lawyer to protect her suggesting to Caine that they are closer than he made out. Meanwhile, Caine must find a CSI field agent to replace Speedle whilst Calleigh must deal with her alcoholic father, who, despite assuring his daughter that he would never drink again, turns up at the CSI lab with alcohol on his breath and some memory of a collision whilst driving.

Murder in a Flash (42m00s): Flash mobbing...it seems like so long ago. As various wealthy citizens of Miami tee off on a private golf course, they're surrounded by a crowd of students who throw golf balls at them and chant, "Best of all the lost arts!" But when the crowd clears, a body is discovered on the golf course and Horatio wonders if the purpose of the mob was to draw CSI to the crime scene or to destroy it. As Caine and his team begin work, they're drawn through emails and text messages to the dead boy's friends, several of whom appear to have motive.

Legal (42m20s): A nightclub in Miami closes its doors, for a short time at least, when an 18-year-old girl is stabbed in one of its bathrooms. As Caine and his team arrive, they learn that the girl was an undercover agent working for Alcohol Beverage Control in an investigation into underage drinking. During an interview with the owner, Caine steps outside only to have a car driven at him. As the driver escapes, he finds a dead body in the back of the vehicle. One murder has become two and the CSI team are seeing the darker side of Miami nightlife.

Hell Night (42m10s): It's Hallowe'en and a coach drives through a foggy night to a darkened mansion. A young girl with a bloody neck wound runs out into the road...trick of treat. Eventually, the coach arrives at its destination, the home of a famous baseball player on trial for murdering his wife. As everyone disembarks, they're instructed, as the jury in his trial, not to touch anything and to remain quiet throughout so to best appreciate the crime scene as it was on the might of the murder. Soon, though, the defence also arrives but as the lights are dimmed, a female juror collapses with a seizure. A coincidence or cover for a murder? As the lights are put back on, the ball player is found dead in the kitchen, a meat cleaver through the back of his head and a note on his back that says, "Guilty!"

Crime Wave (62m54s): In this extended episode, there's a panic in Miami as the city is evacuated ten hours before the arrival of a tidal wave. As the city empties and cars take to the freeways, tempers get frayed and in the middle of the chaos, two people are shot in a car park outside of a store. As the CSIs investigate, they find that one of the victims was involved in the planning of a robbery at the Golden Beach Bank and Trust, timed for during the tsunami. Closing in, they arrive at the bank in the middle of the robbery but as the wave strikes, the thief gets away, leaving the rest of his team trapped in the vault to drown. As the waters subside, Caine learns just how well-planned the robbery was and there's little time to recover the stolen gold and to find the robber and murderer. But Caine has other things on his mind - Yelina arrives at work with a black eye and he suspects she's being beaten up by her boyfriend, Internal Affairs' Stetler. Meanwhile, Alexx and Ryan get called out to a cemetery in the aftermath of the tidal wave when a number of bodies get washed up out of the ground but one body too many.

Speed Kills (41m00s): First a flash mob and now speed dating...CSI: Miami may have its finger on the zeitgeist but it doesn't half age quickly. Following an evening of speed dating, a man is found dead in a car park having been battered to death. With his car vandalised, the CSIs suspect a crime of passion and that it was done with nail-polish leads them back to the speed dating club. But vandalism doesn't always lead to murder and though they find who was guilty of one, the other is more of a problem. Then they learn that the victim was the witness of an assault and the case becomes less about an upset girlfriend than someone who wanted him to remain quiet.

Pirated (42m19s): A honeymooning couple find more than shellfish and coral when they go diving in the ocean off the coast of Miami - six bodies tied together and to an anchor submerged in the water. Suspecting piracy, Caine has Alexx identify the victims and, from there, the ship they were working on. Finding that it was the Eileen, which had a crew of nine, Caine suspects that the remaining crew members escaped on a life raft. When they're brought in by the coast guard, CSI are find that the one missing boat has left them with three investigations - what happened on the Eileen when it was attacked, how did one of the three men on the life raft die and where is the Eileen now. Where this leads them is into murder at sea, the importing of arms and a dangerous white supremacist movement.

After the Fall (41m41s): Caine and Delko are called out to a crime scene where a man lies dead on the pavement. Finding some abseiling equipment on the roof, Caine suspects that the dead man fell off the building but as the investigation begins, he learns that the body in the morgue was just an innocent pedestrian and that his killer, who landed on him after falling from the building, is still at large. A drug dealer, a second body and a DVD showing a high-profile judge in a compromising position all add up to a case that will make a lot of enemies for Caine.

Addiction (42m10s): A young couple leave a restaurant but get no further than 100 yards when they're car jacked. Or at least it appears to be a car jacking but as Caine takes an interest, he learns that she had married into a family business that was threatened by her gambling. When he finds that her brothers-in-law are not mourning her death, Caine asks himself how well the killer knew their victim.

Shootout (42m11s): "A shootout in the ER"...but not that ER. Gangland comes out of the ghetto when two gang members shoot one another in a hospital, fatally injuring one another. As the CSIs begin investigating, they find an orderly had tipped off one of the shooters but as Calleigh and Eric begin tracking bullet trajectories, something doesn't make sense. A second shooter, who's still at large? Meanwhile, Ryan makes a discovery at the scene that has him distracted - a baby whose injuries can't quite be explained away by its mother.



Transfer

I doubt if anyone is coming anew to the CSI releases at this point so this is largely the same as any of the other releases in Momentum's ongoing schedule. Miami does look very pretty here but no more so than in either of the two earlier seasons. Detail is good, the picture is fairly sharp and the levels of colour and brightness are just right but it's what we've come to expect by now from these CSI sets and this is no better than any of those that have preceded it. Similarly, the Dolby Digital 5.1 is good but never obvious. Certainly, it does the job but greater use of the rear channels wouldn't have gone amiss.



Extras

Commentaries: There are five included on this three-disc set - Elizabeth Devine on Lost Son, Marc Dube, Corey Miller and Scott Lautanen on Under The Influence, Elizabeth Devine and Karen Gaviola on Crime Wave, Marc Dube, Scott Lautanen and Ildy Modrovich on After The Fall and writers Corey Miller and Sunil Nayar on Shootout - and they're all of a fairly decent standard. Indeed, it's one of the curious things about CSI: Miami that although it's the least interesting of the three shows in the franchise, it does tend to offer the best commentaries with the writers, particularly Ildy Modrovich, Corey Miller and Sunil Nayar, showing an ability to laugh at the plotting of their shows and of the research they carry out. Add Elizabeth Devine to that, who's probably the most interesting of the writer/producers on the show and you have the best episode extras on any of the CSI releases.

CSI: Miami - Deep Blue Sea (8m34s): Barely three episodes can pass before Eric Delko - and this, I suspect, is the only reason he features in the show - is required to don his wet suit. It's not a pretty sight, I can tell you, but this short feature describes what's involved in the shooting of the underwater sequences in CSI: Miami. Actor Adam Rodriguez doesn't feature but producer Ann Donahue does and together with Sam Hill, she describes how they use a mix of tank work and open sea, the difficulties of shooting underwater and how, in spite of that, they use it to give CSI: Miami a unique identity within the CSI franchise.

CSI: Miami - Visualising Season 3 (11m38s): Ann Donahue is back for this feature on the special effects that are used in the show and which are a key part of the CSI franchise. Special-effects supervisor Larry Detwiler also contributes and talks the audience through a series of effects shots from various episodes including Crime Wave and Lost Son. Unfortunately, most of these interviews are ruined by a loud score behind them but yet more footage of the laughably bad ending of Crime Wave more than makes up for it.



Overall

Normally Five is rather wonderful at advertising itself, with a set of idents and trailers that ought to be the envy of every television channel that has an ambition to drag itself out of the morass of satellite stations. Why, then, they get CSI: Miami so wrong is bewildering, choosing to announce it at the end of a Tuesday night episode of the Las Vegas show with a grinning David Caruso. Whilst only slightly preferable to someone from Five visiting to tell you in person that CSI: Miami is up next before hitting you full in the face with a shovel, the sight of a very smug David Caruso taking up almost all of a 43" television can make one come over all queasy. And yet, I'm sure there are a few hardened souls who actually enjoy his turned-up-collar-and-shades look so, to them, enjoy this set. The rest of us will pass you by occasionally, in Las Vegas and New York, but for Miami, it's all yours.

Film
5 out of 10
Video
6 out of 10
Audio
6 out of 10
Extras
5 out of 10
Overall

5

out of 10

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