CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Series 6 Part 2 Review
I said much that I wanted to say about the sixth series of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation in the review of the first part of this release. So, instead, here's an entirely random list of ten things that would make the show better...
10) The Doctor Is Sick: Dr Robbins is a regular in the show but over six years we know precious little about him. He has a wife, a bad leg, once detained a photographer with his crutch and occasionally leaves the morgue on short excursions into the field. He might have an odd sense of humour but it's such an acquired taste that over six years I still haven't figured out if he's meant to be funny or not. And then, in the episode Dog Eat Dog, he attacks a fruit pie in such a violent manner that suggests Warwick might be next, ending his shift with a cake slice embedded in his forehead. Might I suggest that the producers steer Robbins away from psychopathy, get him to put down the cake slice and show a smile occasionally. He can be funny. He can be odd...in a good way. Let's hear him be both.
9) Falling In Love Again: Romance isn't ever going to happen in CSI, at least not in the Las Vegas version of the show. The flirting between Warwick and Catherine has been so embarrassingly soft over the last six years that one might suggest they're like nothing so much as a couple of lovestruck primary school children. Except that six years on, those same kids would now be in their mid-teens, drinking bottles of WKD, engaging in dogging and being treated for several kinds of sexually-transmitted diseases. Warwick and Catherine show no sign of doing anything like as interesting. Same goes for Grissom and Sara, which is more disturbing than anything that's ever been found lying on the mortuary table. No one, not even the most ardent reader of descriptions of sexual activity between socially backward scientists, could have hoped to see these two sharing a bedroom. And for doing so, this sixth series will be forever tainted. Please, CSI, don't ever go there again. Let Danny and Lindsay from New York fall in love and give them the space to do so. They deserve it, Sara and Grissom, more content alone than they could ever be together, don't.
8) Over The Hodges: CSI: New York has Sid Hammerback, a man who's happiest when discussing the sexual confidence that one needs to partake in a threesome or the lusty rhythms of the samba while dissecting a dead body. He adds a much needed sense of humour to a show that can often be very dry. Now that Greg Sanders has vacated the labs, our next best oddball is David Hodges, a man who appears to try the patience of the very patient Gil Grissom. And for that he's to be congratulated. As he is for making a conversation about pool cues and chalk sound dirty, something that ex-stripper Catherine Willows needs to tell him off for. And for Grissom persistently telling Hodges to leave his office by asking him to close the door. Star that he is, Hodges does close the door but remains in Grissom's office. When Grissom tells him that he was supposed to be on the other side of the door, you know that we have a star of the show. More please!
7) Enter Sanders Man: He's not finished just yet. He still looks as out of place at a CSI crime scene as a giraffe and has a hairstyle that's on a par with Dame Shirley Williams as one that you'd do best to avoid. But when he tells Grissom that he believes that he has psychic powers and that the a murder might be the result of higher and darker influences, that old Sanders magic for the unpredictable thought is still strong. He should never have left the lab but with Nick, Warwick, Catherine and Sara all so dull, let's have plenty more Greg. In fact, make it CSI: Grissom'n'Greg and I'm there.
6) Where There's Muck, There's Brass: Sara Sidle, you're not fooling anyone with your interviewing of suspects. You and I both know that a grizzly bear is more likely to be interviewing suspects alone than a forensics officer. So can we stop seeing Nick interviewing a suspect? Catherine Willows hopelessly presenting a case while desperately hiding her wonky upper lip? Or, much as I like him really, Greg Sanders? Brass is there for a reason and, oddly for a show about the forensics, the cop is the best written, most likeable and ought to be the one producing the cuffs and getting the confession. He's been shot, not been afraid to reveal something of his family life and showed his weaknesses. He's marvellous and it's a much, much better show when he's on the screen. He's more deserving of a spinoff than either New York or Miami but let's just see much more of him in this, where, alongside Gil Grissom, is where he really belongs.
5) The British Are Coming: The first few years of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation must have been good for Catherine Willows. As one of the only two female stars of the show, she had it good. Her only competition was Sara Sidle and let's be honest, that was as one-sided as a race between a Lamborghini and a one-legged man pushing a wheelbarrow tottering under the weight of bricks. I suspected that she might have had a clause in her contract that meant she was the only good looking woman in the show. But then Louise Lombard arrived as Sofia Curtis and Catherine Willows hasn't looked at all well since. What was a slightly lopsided upper lip is now pursed in fury since Curtis arrived and Catherine, clinging closer to Grissom since the very early days of the show now looks a little lost. Not even the romantic tension that lurks within her friendship with Warwick can save her. Oh wait, there isn't any.
4) The Devil Wears Dressing Gowns: Well, alright, he doesn't. He wears a bright red jumpsuit and carries a trident. But Gil Grissom wears a dressing gown and lies on a bed wearing only it and a slightly inscrutable smile while Sara Sidle potters about in the bathroom. You might think that I'm making much of this but this was a low point in a show that had its fair share of them over six years and I don't think I've quite recovered from it. As evidenced, I admit, by my banging on about in this review. I've barely watched the seventh series and I blame that moment. Thanks CSI.
3) Damn Fine Coffee: One of the best episodes in this series was Rashomomma, not for its riffing on Akira Kurosawa but for Nick, Sara and Greg enjoying a bit of pointless banter over breakfast. Did it advance the plot? No, but it slowed the episode, built up their friendship and allowed them a little bit of idle chatter. Can the CSIs have a water-cooler moment? A night out? Heavens, even a team-building event with go-karts that goes very, very wrong? Anything to get them talking about something other than the case.
2) They Shoot Scientists, Don't They?: They carry guns. Let's see them use them. Not Grissom, although anything's possible after that moment in the dressing gown, but I'll bet Nick would love to fire his weapon. It would wind him down after all the faffing about that there's been with his hair, moustache and fear of ants in this season. Killing someone would make him feel better and could, with a good defence attorney, be put down to therapy. Fire away, son!
1) Waiting For Horatio: Or the makers of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation could simply ask that Horatio Caine make a guest appearance per season with the sight of him prancing around Las Vegas with a schtick that would see him a winning finalist in the All Styles Eighties Cool Pentathlon - events being Perving At Youngsters, The Wearing Of Sunglasses, Long Distance Staring, The Rolling Up Of Sleeves and Love Huey Lewis - leaving us thankful for CSI as it is and thus not minding all the nonsense that we usually put up with. Please, Gil Grissom, we'll do anything to avoid H.
Like all of these R2 CSI releases, this second half of the sixth season set contains the last twelve episodes of that year's episodes beginning with...
Kiss-Kiss, Bye-Bye (43m12s): A party featuring Las Vegas royalty, which really is as cheap as it sounds, is crashed by the CSI when the body of a young man is found in the bathroom of singer, actress and showgirl Lois O'Neill (Faye Dunaway). In spite of their mingling with the stars and mobsters of yesteryear, it all gets personal for Catherine when her father, Sam Braun (Scott Wilson), becomes one of the suspects.
Killer (42m05s): And that will be the killer? Showing a small amount of willingness to try something new, CSI begins an episode by revealing the killer and the murders he commits. But still the CSI squad work through the evidence, finding that the two cases they're investigating begin to thread together. This time around, not only do they begin to form a case but the victim watches them on television doing so.
Pirates of the Third Reich (41m17s): Lady Heather (Melinda Clarke) returns just as, after years of padding around each other, Grissom and Sara begin their relationship. Except we aren't meant to know that yet. This episode opens in the desert with Brass and Grissom watching the sand blow around a corpse that is emaciated, bald and branded with a number. As Brass asks Grissom, what does that remind you of? The body is that of Lady Heather's estranged daughter but the investigation leads them into a series of grisly experiments on humans, one that Heather will seek to resolve on her own.
Up In Smoke (40m10s): A romantic evening ends when a fire sparks with dust falling down the chimney. When the fire crew arrive, they see a body bricked into the walls. "Call homicide! Call CSI!" Nick and Sara do arrive on the scene and find that there isn't just one body but two, one enclosed within the calls and another pushed down the chimney. The CSI team are forced to reopen an old homicide case, find a missing person and identify two bodies, one burned and the other a young woman who'd been raped, murdered and buried within the walls of a building.
I Like to Watch (40m20s): The rescue services come under suspicion when Sofia Curtis (Louise Lombard) is called to the scene of rape and attempted murder. There's something about the crime scene that looks like it was all too easy for the attacker and suspicions turn to a rapist who poses as a fireman. Grissom's work is complicated by a reality television show who follow the investigation and get uncomfortably close. Grissom makes plain his feelings, "There's too many forensics shows on TV!"
The Unusual Suspect (41m46s): A promising tennis player is murdered in the locker room and buried in a flower bed wrapped in a shower curtain. It looks to all concerned like a crime of jealousy and passion with the police and the evidence gathered by CSI pointing to the prime suspect being Marlon West. But when West's twelve-year-old sister takes the stand, she confesses to the murder. With the judge giving the prosecution only seventy-two hours to examine the evidence, the pressure is on CSI to rebuild their case. But what they find, not least in an interview with Hannah, surprises even them.
Spellbound (41m14s): Within the offices of Sixth Sense Occult, Sedona Wylie (Jennifer Grant), a psychic, holds a reading over an through the crystals but appears to foresee her own murder. Luckily for CSI, Greg swaps shifts with Warwick to take on the case believing that, thanks to his grandmother reading leaves around the kitchen table, he might have psychic powers of his own. Grissom asks him to focus the five senses that he can put his trust in. Unfortunately, Greg believes that higher powers may be at work.
Poppin' Tags (40m48s): Nick is having a bad hair day, there's hip hop on the radio and the victim is hanging from a lamppost and wearing a giant clock around his neck. About twenty years too late, CSI decides to dip its toe into rap when they're called in to investigate the murder of three rival teen rappers. And a videotape of a rather large man sitting up on a bed wearing a gold lame bikini. One time member of the Wu-Tang Clan Method Man guest stars.
Rashomama (42m14s): "All right. Let me see if I understand this correctly. You let one of your team drive his personal vehicle to a crime scene investigation and even though there was a crime scene vehicle there that personal car was crammed with every bit of evidence collected at a major murder investigation because two of you were maxed out on overtime. And then the driver of said car instead of securing the evidence in the lab gave priority to his need for runny eggs. And the aforementioned vehicle was stolen from a parking lot filled with police cars. Is there anything I missed?" Internal affairs aren't happy when Nick loses all the evidence in the investigation of a prominent defence attorney at the wedding of her son. For Nick, Sara and Greg, it's back to the wedding party and to interviews with the guests but everyone, as suggested by the title, seems to recall events somewhat differently.
Time of Your Death (40m00s): A gambler has a memorable night. A beautiful woman, a big win on the tables and a Ferrari. All the more memorable that he ends up dead in the loading dock of a casino. With very little to go on as regards his identity, the CSIs work on establishing John Doe's name and what happened during his last hours alive. What they found were incredible highs but a very lonely and violent death.
Bang-Bang (39m31s): Runinng from the police, a man enters a casino, sprints through the crowds around the tables and, taking a lift, barricades himself in a hotel room. Unfortunately, the room is occupied and he now has a hostage. Not something he'd originally intended. As he continues to state his innocence, the CSIs work on accumulating enough evidence to either confirm his story or to prove his guilt. But before they do, a police officer enters the hotel room as negotiator but puts himself in danger by doing so.
Way To Go (41m26s): As one of their number is admitted to hospital, the CSIs receive a call to investigate a body found on the railway tracks, one that's missing a head and showing a tiny waist. As Grissom exercises power of attorney over his injured partner, he's troubled by the two cases, even taking an interest in one but when the family of his friend arrives in Las Vegas, he must put his professional life aside, not least to fall in love.
Looking, unsurprisingly, exactly like the DVD release of the first half of this season so it's fair that I reprint the corresponding section from that review. The standard of the show's production has gotten better over the years but the DVD presentation is no better or worse now since its first appearance on disc. Anamorphically presented in its original 1.78:1 off a high-definition master, this fifth season of CSI looks very good indeed with rich colours, an impressive amount of detail and a decent handling of the frequent switch between the bright sun of the desert to the darkness of the CSI labs without any problems. However, being of a standard with the earlier releases, this isn't anything than you won't, should you already own a CSI set, have seen before.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVDs is a clear improvement over the NICAM stereo of the broadcast versions with infrequent use of the rear channels and subwoofer, typically for ambient effects and the score. It is, though, a complementary audio track and whilst one never notices anything standing out, as such, there are also no obvious faults with it. All of these episodes feature English subtitles.
Commentaries: There are two talk tracks spread across these three discs - Naren Shankar, Kenneth Fink and Dustin Lee Abraham (Killer), Abraham again with George Eads (Poppin' Tags) - and they're not bad, with the latter being a good deal better than the former. The threesome on Killer would be a good deal more dry than Eads and Abraham together with it being the actor - far more fun to listen to than he is to watch - keeping things light and funny. There's still far too much technical chatter but such is the way with CSI and will, I'm sure, be the way that these commentaries continue.
Apparent Cause Of Death (6m51s): "I enjoyed monster movies when I was ten years old" So says even make-up effects man on every movie and television show ever, not least CSI's Matthew W Mungle. Which doesn't seem to be a thing that encourages every teenage masturbator to eventually turn to producing their own adult movies. Mungle, though, is a man who has turned his love of monsters into the making of corpses for CSI and we see him here at work, taking a volunteer and, with the aid of bags of fake guts, turning him into a corpse for the show. It does look to be a fascinating line of work but at a little under seven minutes, Mungle gives away very little of his art.
Gadgets And Gizmos (6m26s): No, we're not seeing the preposterous clarification of CCTV images of licence plates that CSI include in every episode but the kind of forensics gadgets that could be yours if you were as well funded as Grissom's no-expense-spared team. Senior Technical Consultant Richard Catalani is our guide as he takes us through such things as a Borescope with Fibre Optic Camera, a Laser Ablator and Forensic Buddy, which isn't an Airplane!-styled air-filled doll but a means to recover bullets for forensic analysis that is shorter and more portable than a water tank.
Coroner Reports (3m55s): David Berman and Robert David Hall are back to talk the viewer through the lighter and more respectful moments of dealing with the dead, telling us that it's not all chainsaws, clamps and cadavers. This is short and contains few surprises but there is a nice ending to it in the form of Surprise Findings, which confirms that extracting an eye on the end of a needle is not something that one should expect.
Season Six Trajectory (19m15s): This begins with William Petersen acknowledging that the breaking up of the CSI team in the show's fifth season was a mistake. And he's right, it was. Happily, this sixth season brings the team back together with this making-of gathering the stars and producers into a feature to pick out their favourite moments, episodes and performances. With some structure given by the selected episodes and, admittedly, some of the more memorable scenes from the season, this isn't bad but is too short and, after facing up to the problem in Season Five, are rather quick to dodge this year's bullet, that of Grissom and Sarah ending up together. Which, with the horror of that in mind, is the perfect point at which to leave this review.