CSI: Miami Season 2 Part 1 Review
I may, in the past, have bemoaned the lack of interest that the producers of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation have in the personalities in their show. Many are the times that I wished to know a little more about Gil Grissom, to maybe have seen him establish more of a relationship with Teri Miller or Lady Heather and, more importantly, to have seen him reclaim his team at the end of season five with enough passion to show that it meant as much to him as it did to us. Instead, guest director Tarantino skipped over it with one line. One line...it's not so much that CSI doesn't get involved with the personalities in the team by, say, accident, more that it strenuously avoids it.
The makers of CSI, in their turning the show into a franchise, did eventually get it right. They created a team worth caring about, who appeared to work as a team and who knew something about the lives of their colleagues outside of the office. We were asked to mourn over the dead wife of one, the difficult upbringing of another and how one urged her boss to leave his work in the office and to meet someone socially. That, however, occurs in CSI: New York, the third CSI show to be broadcast and the one in which everything that was good about the show came together. But before that show came this, CSI: Miami, which took the franchise down into the rich, glamourous south-eastern state and gave each member of the cast a more prominent personality than was allowed to their colleagues in Las Vegas. I would normally have congratulated the makers of CSI: Miami on this but when the cast they assembled are almost entirely objectionable, such congratulations must be withheld.
With one exception - Tim Speedle (Rory Cochrane) - CSI: Miami was a collection of the most bizarre people that one could not have hoped less for. Whether it was Dr. Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander), a medical examiner who talked to corpses, Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter), a CSI field agent obsessed with guns - look for the twinkle her eye when she mentions heading to the gun lab - or Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez), who is, and there's no other way to say this, an asshole that even Speedle appears to dislike, the Miami branch of CSI seemed to come up real short in terms of team members to identify with or, at a stretch, to even like. But, like a totem, offering a less-than-shining example to his team, was Horatio Caine (David Caruso) who was almost everything that Gil Grissom was not.
Where Grissom looks to learn from every case, Caine adopts a position within each episodes opening minutes that he knows everything about it and that by conducting an investigation, he's only allowing his team to catch up with him. Where Grissom is a science geek, Caine pulls this look, whereby he stares off into the distance, puts one hand on a hip and removes his sunglasses, which only makes him appear like the kind of gimp who continues to roll the sleeves up on his sports jacket as though it were still 1985. Worse is when he, through the course of an investigation, is required to deal with a child, he tries to be empathic but looks like a paedophile - were he to ask the child, "Would you like to see my puppies?" he couldn't be any less creepy. Finally - and this is where he goes badly, badly wrong - he tries to do threatening, which is as terrifying a proposition as a fart on a beach.
Or am I being too hard on him for not being Grissom? His goofy, 'Hey there!' smile at the end of Blood Brothers, the standout episode in this set, shows that he does have a sense of humour and the manner in which Caine comforts two parents who've lost their daughter in the same episode shows that he does have the measure of the character. And he's actually very good indeed in those scenes that he shares with Eugene in Witness To Murder, displaying a looseness and warmth that's far too rare in his portrayal of Caine.
Were I being reasonable, the fault does look to lie more with the entire team than it does with Horatio Caine alone. Where the New York team actually look as though they enjoy one another's company, Speedle was the only member of the Miami team who appears to have anything resembling social skills. Viewers of the season currently being shown on Five will understand, therefore, when I say that I gave up on CSI: Miami shortly after this season began. Things were slightly better in this season, therefore, than those that preceded and followed it, not only because of Speedle but also for Boti Bliss' naive lab assistant, Maxine Valera. And, in terms of the episodes, this season does include two of the better shows although, given how Momentum break up CSI seasons, only one makes it on here.
Interestingly, though, each CSI series has dallied with the idea of a romance between cast members - Sarah Sidle has stated an interest in Grissom but you know it's never going to happen. I can't be the only one who suspects something between Mack and Stella but he's a poker-stiff ex-marine while she looks to want a man who can shake his own booty. But in CSI: Miami, Caruso has had to play Caine as a man in love with his dead brother's ex-wife and, rather than blaming the actor, I don't think the writers have handled it at well, leaving the star of the show high and dry at times.
Whilst it's not an unappealing show, I've just never gotten the impression that the makers of the CSI shows have really figured out their first spin-off. Las Vegas they've got, New York was figured out early on but Miami shows that they're struggling with a team of, at their simplest, government employees who find themselves up against some of the richest families in the US. Where the Las Vegas and New York teams are often called to the seamier areas of their respective cities, Caine's team operate amongst cosmetic surgeons, Lamborghinis, foreign diplomats, model agencies and twentysomething club owners bankrolled by their wealthy families. As yet, they haven't quite figured it out but, worse, show no sign of doing so either and with CSI: New York becoming accepted as the best of the two spin-offs, CSI: Miami may not be given the time or money to be pulled together.
Blood Brothers (40m35s): When a model is killed following a hit-and-run outside a Miami nightclub and his team quickly identify the car that was used - a bright yellow Lamborghini Diablo - it looks like the case will be closed quickly. When the driver of the car is identified as the son of a general from Caracas, who has the same conditions of diplomatic immunity as his father, Horatio finds that he can't touch him for murder but in not giving up the case despite state department threats to cut the his department's funding, he finds that there may be other means that he can employ to dodge, if not avoid, any diplomatic rulings.
Dead Zone (42m40s): When the body of a man is found on a boat, having been shot and pinned to a wall by a spear gun, Caine and his team get involved in treasure hunting off the Miami coast. On his second trip under the water, Delko finds that cocaine originating from Colombia is also involved and that, although the solution looks obvious, tying the case down may be difficult.
Hard Time (42m01s): Opening with a scene in which a man opens a copy of Playboy whilst preparing to masturbate, only to be interrupted when a couple of hundred maggots fall on his head, Horatio tries to find whoever badly beat a woman in an empty apartment but who, as the CSI team arrive, is still alive. As the team investigate, they find that the case leads back to a rape case that occurred some years and that it is linked to the rapist, Mason Shaw. Unfortunately, time is running out for Caine as Shaw has an upcoming appointment with the parole board in the state of Georgia, where, without a solid case that proves his guilt, Shaw could be released.
Death Grip (41m04s): A very promising teenage tennis player, Lana Walker, is taken from her bedroom and the only witness is her little sister, who tells Caine that a monster took her. This being Florida, the police begin searching the swamps and waterways whilst Caine takes an interest in a registered sex offender who lives in the neighbourhood. But when a girl's arm is found with an alligator's tooth in it, Delko calls in an old college friend, Jeff Corwin, to assist. As the CSI team progress their investigation, they find Lana hiding out in a motel room with her coach, which leaves them the problem of identifying the girl who lost an arm to an alligator.
The Best Defence (41m52s): When a young man calls in from a bar having been shot along with his two partners in the business, who were killed by their wounds, Caine suspicions are aroused at what he sees as gaps in the story. Caine becomes even more curious when the man's family, who own a successful sugar business, send in their lawyer. Meanwhile, Calleigh's father, who is now a public defender, shows up to ask for her assistance in a case that he's working, which, although she feels it compromises their relationship, she helps him with but may come up with an answer that he doesn't like.
Hurricane Anthony (41m23s): As wind speeds head towards 145mph and there is an enforced evacuation of Miami, a young couple leave it late to leave the city but as they do, they hit and kill a man with their car. After the hurricane passes, the CSI team visit the site to begin their investigation and as Caine searches homes in the area, he finds a man who has been impaled on a spiked garden fence, whilst Calleigh sees a man leaving a house with a stereo. Thinking he might be a looter, Calleigh and Tripp investigate and find the man's wife has been shot and left for dead in their bedroom. Given the close proximity of these events to one another, Caine suspects that they may be connected but with the first victim proving difficult to identify, discovering the link between them may be problematic.
Grand Prix (40m54s): During a race at the Grand Prix Miami, Chris Petrie, a mechanic in the American Spirit pit crew, is engulfed in methanol and dies watching his safety clothing evaporate. During an initial check of the equipment, Caine finds something in the water pipe that was blocking the flow of the water that might have put out the flames on Petrie and his suspicions point towards the driver of the car on which Petrie was last working - star driver Jimmy Hutton. But Hutton has gone missing and with the organisers of the Grand Prix pressing Caine to complete his investigation, finding out which one out of a hundred ways to die in a Grand Prix is going to be difficult.
Big Brother (42m49s): The CSI team are called to an office within which an options trader lies dead - he has been stabbed at his desk and a bottle of champagne sits nearby, suggesting that he was preparing to meet someone. But Caine receives a phone call from a woman who once had a relationship with his brother and finds that he may have a niece that he never previously knew existed. As Caine reopens the investigation into his brother's death, it brings back many memories, not only for Horatio but also for Yelina. Speedle and Calleigh, meanwhile, continues with that into the death of the trader, which takes them into the world of voyeuristic websites.
Bait (41m23s): When a young woman is attacked by a shark within the marina, it looks like a pretty simple case for the CSI team but when Alexx finds a bullet wound and, during the autopsy, evidence of sexual assault, it becomes more complex. Speedle is also assigned to the case and discovers that the woman was an employee in an agency that uncovers unfaithful husbands by tempting them with attractive women. The dead woman was one such employee. But when Delko finds a fingerprint at the scene of the crime that matches a Miami PD detective, the case requires Caine's best diplomacy.
Extreme (42m29s): CSI get called out when the body of a young woman, who was dressed in the latest designer clothes, is thrown out of an apartment block but when Alexx discovers that rigor has already set in, it means that she was already dead. As Caine says, the apartment block may not be the crime scene. As the CSI team continue to investigate, they find that the girl was, initially at least, a willing victim in a stunt kidnapping organised by the Gotcha! Corporation but that something went wrong. Meanwhile, Delko stumbles upon what he thinks is a 'chop shop' but in working alone, he steps into an investigation already being run by Det. Frank Tripp, which leads to a conflict between CSI and PD.
Complications (40m54s): When a voyeur with a telescope is spying on a young woman stripping for her boyfriend, he accidentally scans over the building opposite and finds a man hanging in his apartment. CSI are called and although the scene has been made to look like a suicide, Caine suspects a murder. The dead man is identified as an anaesthesiologist at a plastic surgery clinic and when Caine learns that the clinic had a patient die during surgery the week before, he knows where to begin.
Witness To Murder (42m40s): CSI are called to a parking garage after a diamond broker was shot during what looks like a road rage incident but when the only witness is a mentally handicapped windscreen washer, Eugene, Caine foresees problems in making the case stick. But as he finds a bond with Eugene, he sees that, by understanding Eugene's memories of the event, that he may identify the killers. When Eugene gets badly beaten, however, Caine takes it personally and resolves to get a conviction. Meanwhile, Delko and Speedle investigate the disappearance of the body of a young girl between the crime scene and the morgue.
Anyone familiar with the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation will know what to expect by now - a clean, anamorphic 1.78:1 picture that nicely handles the blacks of the crime lab as well as the bright sunshine of Miami. Other than the cast and city, there's little to distinguish the transfers of the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation sets and this one.
Similarly, CSI: Miami Season 2 Part 1 gets a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and it's a good one - lots of use of the rear channels for ambient effects and for making good use of the audio space in scenes where it suits.
Commentary on Blood Brothers: It's fitting that Danny Cannon and Ann Donahue - writer and director of this episode as well as having a greater role across the franchise - have provided a commentary for what is this season's best as well as its opening episode. Both are talkative - Donahue more than Cannon - and there aren't many gaps in the commentary even if 'Whispering' Danny sounds at times like he's commentating on a snooker match. This being the first episode, they concentrate on the things that they particularly enjoy about CSI: Miami and from someone who has concerns about the show, it's good to hear what those who work on it like about it.
Commentary on Hard Times: Writer Elizabeth Devine and director Daren Sarafian provide a commentary and it's very much like the one on Blood Brothers, although they do tend to have less to say about what they like in CSI: Miami. Both, however, have a lot to say about this episode and describe every location, scene and twist in a straightforward and uncomplicated manner.
Tour Of The A/V Lab: Having never been convinced that the technology used in CSI is anything other than the fantasies of their writers, this bonus feature goes some way to explaining the tools of the forensic lab. Writer and Consulting Producer Elizabeth Devine is the host of this extra, which breaks the activities of the A/V lab into minute-sized chunks, such as Huff Transform, Video Matching and Audio Isolation. Devine is rather sketchy on the actual technology used, which won't convince sceptics, but with nine little features, including an introduction, this is not a bad extra.
Commentary on Hurricane Anthony: Writer Ildy Modrovich and producer Schott Shiffman have recorded the best commentary on the set as they clearly get along and joke about their involvement on the show. Modrovich provides a lot of information on this particular episode whilst Shiffman's strength is over the entire series and it's a good listen with the good humour coming across as sounding natural.
Commentary on Complications: Co-writers Sunil Nayar and Corey Miller provide a detailed but dry commentary in which they reveal much about the story but, from not really having been on the set, are light on production details.
Commentary on Witness To Murder: Co-writers Ildy Modrovich and Michael Ostrowski as well as director Duane Clark take part in this, which, from the off, is less than serious. The most interesting part of this commentary is when Ildy Modrovich talks about - and this is making me feel bad now - David Caruso changing the last line in the pre-titles sequence. Originally, the line read, "But we have nothing", which was in reference to the only witness being a mentally handicapped man but, feeling this was insensitive, Caruso changed the line to, "And that is gonna be the challenge." Ildy Modrovich is as funny as she was on the commentary for Hurricane Anthony but Michael Ostrowski is a little quieter. Duane Clark isn't bad but tends towards the technical, which gives Modrovich the opportunity to tease him.
Through watching this boxset, I'm almost learned to like Horatio Caine but I'll never be able to say the same about Momentum's double-dipping of UK fans by forcing them to buy an entire season in two parts.
And no one should be under the impression that two boxes of CSI: Miami R2 is equivalent to or cheaper than a R1 set of the entire season. In an investigation that lasted all of, oooh, twenty seconds or so, both Loaded247 and DVD Pacific, who are linked to on the left, have the entire second season for sale for less than £30 while this set, which contains only half the season is on sale online for, typically, the same amount. Should you be querying the score to the right, look for no other reason than that of grossly inflated prices in the UK.
There is no reason why a set in the UK has to be split into two and have a set price for it that is double that of the R1 equivalent. Similarly, though, there is no good reason why, from the point of view of the consumer, they should pay that amount when alternatives exist - shop smart and look to Region 1.