CSI: New York – The Complete Second Season Review
Who switched on the lights? And who thought that the New York CSI department needed to move out of their old headquarters, which was something like Hill Street station by way of the Event Horizon, and into a glossy office-block? And finally, who, perhaps mistaking this for CSI: Miami, believed the chilly blue of New York needed to be bathed in the warm orange of the Floridian sun?
Actually, and according to Wikipedia, it was CBS President Les Moonves who wreaked this havoc on CSI: New York, taking away it's bloody, gritty raison d'etre and making it look, more or less, like one more part of the franchise in a bid to have the show looking "less cold". As one who liked the first season's appearance of being trapped in a perpetual late New York autumn, I'm rather disappointed by these glimpses of the sunlight. And, given the manner in which Mac Taylor grimaces in the midday sun, so is he.
At first glance, CSI: New York picks up, excepting the change in location, exactly where it left off at the end of the previous season. Aidan and Danny are still something of a team, as are Mac and Stella but they're now joined by Hawkes, who had requested a move out of the autopsy room and into the field. But something is very different and one need not profess to any amount of expertise in understanding body language to know what it is. As was hinted at in the first season, Aidan was personally involved in an attempt to convict a rapist and this season opens with her making some subtle comments about her involvement in the case. Actually, they're about as subtle as one would expect from a network television show, with every glimpse of her frustration being met with one of consternation from Danny, Stella and Mac.
Wasting no time, by the end of the second show, she's out, fired by Mac Taylor having been proven to have tampered with the evidence in the rape case. Whilst she may, in the manner of such things, have been escorted from the building, she makes rather an inglorious exit, looking neither to be missed nor to have dented anyone's confidence in Mac Taylor's labs. Then again, her replacement, Lindsay Monroe, arrives almost as quickly as Aidan departed, taking up with Danny as easily as did her predecessor. Oddly, though, it's not the loss of Aidan that's the biggest change to the structure of the show in this second season. Rather, it's Hawkes' moving into the field that robs the show of the two-plus-two dynamic that it had in the first, wherein the Mac/Stella and Danny/Aidan relationships were a mix of CSI case-chatter - think DNA, fingerprints and ballistics - and friendly banter.
Sometimes, this verged on the sexual - think of Aidan telling Danny that she was out of his league or the pair of them giggling at the Robospanker during their investigation of New York's fetish scene - but in the friendship between Mac and Stella was closer to one looking out for the other. However, as much as this makes something of a return in this second season - it's clear that there is some attraction between Danny and Lindsay - the need to find a place for the enthusiastic but sometimes very dull Hawkes breaks up the natural friendships that one had gotten used to. Try as the writers might, Mac/Lindsay and Danny/Stella aren't as much fun as seeing the sassy Stella rib the uptight Mac Taylor nor Danny attempt to provoke a reaction from Lindsay.
They do make up for this with a good deal more humour in the show, some of which comes with the lightening up of Mac Taylor - Flack and Danny has some fun at his expense and he reveals much more of himself than he did in the first season - but there's also Medical Examiner Dr. Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy), who's brought in as Hawkes' replacement. Though there's the suggestion that he's unnaturally gifted, he does tend to verbally wander into areas that leave the CSIs somewhat uncomfortable, whether describing the lusty Latin rhythms of the samba - Mac finds it necessary to clear his throat at that point - or discussing the sexual confidence that one needs to partake in a threesome, Sid adds an oddness to the show that CSI desperately needs and won't remind you of anyone so much as Las Vegas' Greg Sanders. Albeit with even less understanding of social protocol and personal space and with a sense of sexual adventurousness that Sanders could only dream about.
However, the strongest story in the season is that of Stella's romance with an artist, one who she seems to fall deeply in love with but who harbours a secret, which Stella discovers via the aresanob.com website. Oddly, given the typically slapdash manner in which CSI deals with such stories, CSI: New York handles this very well, underplaying it such that one hardly notices it until it comes to an explosive conclusion. When it does, it is, for CSI, somewhat shocking and proves once again why CSI: New York remains the pick of the three CSI dramas. Add to that some decent comedy, fairly believable relationships and some very odd moments, most of which involve Dr Sid, who is the star of this season, and this remains the CSI series that best weds the actual investigations to the lives of the CSI agents. Roll on the third season, the arrival of Clare Forlani and rumours of a relationship between her and Mac Taylor.
Summer in the City (43m03s): New York is baking in a heat wave but in one part of the town, people gather on the pavement to watch a man free-climb up the outside of the Empire State Building. As they cheer him on from the ground and phone their friends and families, their excitement turns to horror as he falls and, landing on a raised part of the building, splatters them with his blood, flesh and parts of his brain. Mac, Stella, Flack and new field agent Sheldon Hawke arrive on the scene. Elsewhere, Danny wonders about his victim, a man found lying at the bottom of a set of stairs wearing an $80,000 diamond-encrusted bra. Aidan, however, has something else on her mind, something that puts her future at CSI in doubt.
Grand Murder at Central Station (43m57s): In busy Grand Central Station, the crowds scatter as a man runs through screaming in pain, the skin on his face burning having lye thrown at him. Mac, Hawkes and Flack arrive on the scene whilst he's still alive but he dies soon after leaving in an ambulance. In spite of thousands of eyewitnesses, no one seems to know anything about the victim. Thanks to J.Lo, though, Hawkes gets an insight into the crime. Stella and Danny are elsewhere in town, investigating the death of a blind artist but via a voice-operated GPS, they're able to retrace her steps. Meanwhile, Aiden tampers with the evidence in a double-rape case, leaving Mac with little choice over her.
Zoo York (43m43s): In the zoo, a pair of bag-snatchers are running from a guard but soon find themselves trampled by a crowd coming from the other direction. What they're running from soon becomes apparent when security arrives to tranquillise the big cats, who are, by then, happily feasting on a human body in their enclosure, one that has had its hands and legs tied with packing tape. Mac, Danny and new recruit Lindsay Monroe step amongst the tigers and begin work. Stella and Hawkes look into the death of a young debutante, who appears to have been killed shortly before a party to celebrate her coming out onto the New York social scene.
Corporate Warriors (41m33s): At a festival downtown, a man staggers out into the street from a bar and is set upon by the crowds, who believe that he's attempting to steal money from an idol being carried through the streets. But just before Mac can begin his investigation, he's called away to Central Park, where a dead body has been found on a park bench. As Lindsay tells him about the victim, Mac leans forward and lifts its head off its shoulders. Giving her a brief lesson, he tells her that, "Not everything is connected!"
Dancing With The Fishes (41m46s): A young couple drive through New York dodging kids on motorbikes but what they fail to avoid is a body that's been thrown off a bridge towards their car. Mac, Stella and Flack attend the crime scene and discover that this wasn't suicide but murder. Elsewhere, Danny and Hawkes look into the death of a fish merchant, finding that the worlds of swordfish and prestigious schools aren't so far apart. Finally, Lindsay is sent to the nation's only functioning commuter tram where a body's been found but discovers that it's not an entirely isolated event.
Youngblood (43m00s): The dating game attracts the CSI team once again when they investigate the death of a man in an elevator and discover a world in which young girls enjoy anonymous sexual encounters with much older men. Mac, Danny and Lindsay investigate. Elsewhere, Hawkes and Stella look into the death of a man found in the lake in Central Park, learning that he had spent much time living a lie.
Manhattan Manhunt (42m54s): "Welcome to Part 2 of the crossover..." Part 2, you say? And Part 1 will be where on this six disc set? Actually, it turns you that you'd need to have bought a CSI: Miami DVD release to have caught the first part of the tale of Henry Darius, which began in Miami with two girls flashing a plane that was flying overhead and moved to New York soon after. But as Mac and Horation Caine close in on Darius, he flees once more, leaving six dead bodies behind him. Caine, again with the help of the New York police department, get close to Darius - Mac even shares a subway train with him at one point - but find that there may exist a closer relationship between Darius and his young female hostage than either had let on.
Bad Beat (43m16s): There's a touch of Las Vegas about this episode, which begins with a high-stakes poker game and an accusation of cheating, which ends with a player being beaten up and tossed out into the hallway. But when the doorbell goes minutes later, it's answered with the blast from a double-barreled shotgun, leaving Mac, Stella and Flack in search of the accused and badly beaten player. Meanwhile, Danny and Hawkes investigate the death of a weather girl, whose videos - in between the walruses - show her in a very different light.
City of the Dolls (44m15s): Snow is falling in New York but the throwing of snowballs is interrupted by a chase on foot through the city. As one of the kids hides in the shop, he discovers a dead body lying amongst hundreds of broken dolls. Unwittingly, he'd stumbled into a doll hospital and found the owner dead. Mac, Danny and Lindsay investigate. Elsewhere, Stella and Hawkes begin to look into the death of a young woman but what looks like a suicide is complicated by their finding of a to-do list and that the girl was terminally ill and receiving chemotherapy.
Jamalot (42m19s): Long after Linda Blair starred in Roller Boogie, CSI: New York catches up with roller derby when a competitor dies during a mass brawl. As Mac and Stella arrive at the crime scene - Stella is surprised at just how much Mac knows about roller derby - they have two rival teams to deal with and many, many suspects. Meanwhile, Danny and Hawkes get on a literary bent when they are called to a crime scene and find an up-and-coming writer rolled in a carpet and dumped in an alleyway.
Trapped (44m16s): Time is short for Danny when, during his investigating the death of a man in an upmarket apartment, he becomes locked in a panic room with the victim. With his oxygen running out and a locksmith cutting through the titanium door, Stella must process what she can from the outside whilst Danny, inside the scene, communicates with her via a video link. Elsewhere, Mac, Hawkes and Lindsay look into the death of a stripper who's found lying on a Klieg light, burned by its 1000deg surface temperature. Looking into the lube-fighting that she was involved with earlier in the evening, they ask if the man that she fought might have borne a grudge...but that seems too simple.
Wasted (42m12s): When a catwalk model collapses and dies during a fashion show, Mac, Danny and Hawkes investigate. Surprising no one, Mac confesses to not having heard of the victim despite her being on every billboard in Times Square and on the cover of every magazine. As Danny tells him, "Mac, you gotta get out of the lab!" Elsewhere, Stella and Lindsay check out a terminally ill man's claim to have killed his doctor.
Risk (43m52s): Danny is on his way home from work on the subway when, looking out the front window of his carriage, he sees a body on the track. Stopping the train, he begins working the crime scene, calling Mac away from a black-tie fundraising event for the mayor but what looks like subway surfing proves to be more difficult case when they take a closer look at the body. Elsewhere, Hawkes looks into the death of a day broker who's found hanging from the window in his office. What seems like a suicide doesn't add up during interviews.
Stuck on You (43m50s): At an art gallery where Stella is attending a show, a young couple leave and begin kissing in an alleyway outside. But as they kiss more passionately and one of them removes his shirt, he's shot through the back with an arrow, which also kills his girlfriend by passing through his body and piercing her heart. Elsewhere, Danny and Lindsay investigate the death of a bill poster, which looks like a turf war between promoters.
Fare Game (42m42s): CSI opens in a misty cemetery, wherein a disembodied voice rises from a grave. But there is nothing supernatural about this, more a high-tech gravestone in which the voice of the deceased is relayed through a small video screen and before this stands an assistant district attorney, bleeding from a gunshot wound from his chest. Mac and Stella investigate. Elsewhere, Hawkes and Danny are called out when the body of a young woman is discovered in her bed, with the fatal wound being a stabbing through her ear.
Cool Hunter (43m03s): In an apartment block, the water runs red with the blood of a young woman killed and left in a water tower. Mac, Lindsay and Flack are on the scene to investigate, finding that the building holds a secret. Elsewhere, Hawkes and Stella look into the discovery of a young man's body in a playground, in which he is found hanging from a swing.
Necrophilia Americana (42m57s): It's a case that Gil Grissom would feel comfortable handling, particularly how it begins with bugs escaping from their enclosures and scurrying across the floor to feast on the decomposing body of a curator. Mac and Stella investigate and find that though the case has a witness, the young boy who was there at the time of the murder doesn't want to tell anyone about it. Meanwhile, Danny and Flack are called out to a crime scene, finding that the mouth of the victim is filled with hardened foam insulation. "Insulated to death?", is Danny's not unreasonable remark on the case.
Live or Let Die (44m10s): The CSIs race against time as they attempt to save the life of a transplant patient by discovering the whereabouts of a kidnapped intern who may still have the donor liver. But in another part of town, Mac and Hawkes find the body of an intern on top of a billboard and conclude that he was thrown from a helicopter. Very soon after, Mac and Flack realise that it was the liver that kidnapper wanted and that it must be recovered.
Super Men (43m29s): A vigilante dressed as a superhero is found dead after saving a New Yorker from being mugged. As Mac, Stella and Hawkes investigate, they find that he believed himself to be a genuine superhero, even to leaving his clothes in a phone box near the crime scene. Meanwhile, Danny and Lindsay are assigned to the case of a dead footballer, who, tying in with Mac's victim, was better known as Superman.
Run Silent, Run Deep (44m17s): After his suspension in the first season in On The Job, Danny's job is once again on the line when a body is discovered in a football stadium and a cigarette butt beside it is found to contain his DNA. Unable to believe what has happened but with the continued support of Mac Taylor, Danny faces up to his past and his older brother's association with the Tanglewood gang.
All Access (42m23s): Including one of the very occasional celebrity cameos that the CSI franchise features, Kid Rock guest stars as Mac and Lindsay investigate the death of his limo driver. Mac looks to be both baffled and utterly nonplussed by the attention Kid Rock receives but what concerns him most is closing the case in the midst of the storm of media attention that surrounds a rock star.
Stealing Home (44m13s): A young woman sleeps with the fishes. Or may be a fish...Danny and Lindsay are dockside investigating the death of a young woman dressed as a mermaid and tangled up in seaweed. Elsewhere, Mac and Stella look into the curious death of a man who appears to have had two wives. Bigamous? It would seem not as the two women claim that they enjoyed a trinogamous relationship with the dead man. But Mac suspects that jealousy can creep in to every relationship, even one as seemingly modern as this one.
Heroes (43m35s): In one of the standout CSI episodes, the team investigate the discovery of a body within a burnt-out car. At first, it looks to be a relatively simple case but when Hawkes does a reconstruction on the skull, he finds that the victim was a woman and not an unknown one at that. Indeed, Hawkes surprises everyone when he brings news that the victim was Aiden Burn. With the team taking a personal interest in the case, it's up to Mac to ensure that everyone remains calm and professional throughout. But, a CSI to the end, they find that Aiden, in her dying moments, left them enough clues to bring her killer to justice. Elsewhere, Mac and Danny investigate the death of a marine corporal killed during a struggle but who didn't appear to have fought back.
Charge of this Post (43m22s): When a bomb warning is phoned in, Mac Taylor and Flack are first on the scene but as they clear the building, the bomb goes off. With the NYPD detective seriously injured and lying in hospital, Mac must have his team work the crime scene and discover the identity of the bomber. But, in a very short time, the bomber calls CSI and reveals that his strike that morning was only the first of many that day.
This is largely a reprint of the same section in the review of CSI: New York Season 1 review from last year. In truth, little has changed between the seasons other than to say that David Fincher's Seven is not much less of an obvious influence on the show, with CSI: New York not pushing the limits of the DVD format the way the first season did. There are still many moments when one will be screwing one's eyes up at the screen to peer through the gloom but it's much lighter a season than the first. But regular viewers of CSI on DVD will know, then, exactly what to expect of CSI: New York and to not be surprised that its a fine transfer with few faults - colours are good, it flatters the series with a sharp picture and there are few flaws in the image.
Similarly, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track is also a tradition with CSI on DVD and this one is as good as any of the previous ones. The surround channels are used infrequently for both dialogue and action but are used much more often 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. None of the episodes feature subtitles.
Commentaries: These five commentaries are typical of those included in CSI boxsets, allowing writers, directors and producers to offer their thoughts, not so much on the show in general, but on specific episodes. Therefore, on the first disc in the set, director David Von Ancken and editor Bill Zabala offer their thoughts on Summer In The City whilst on Grand Murder At Central Station, director Scott Lautanen and writer Zachary Reiter discuss the influences on the episode, its filming and its place in the series. Two later commentaries - Bad Beat (writer Zachary Reiter and director Duane Clark) and Trapped (writer Peter M. Lenkov and director James Whitmore Jr.) - are more of the same, with the only exception being that on Manhattan Manhunt, which sees producers Anthony E. Zuiker and Elizabeth Devine recorded together and relating their thoughts more to the show than to that particular episode.
Top Of The Heap (10m02s): This short feature looks at the second season of CSI: New York from the point of view of the cast and crew and features interviews with Gary Sinise, Anthony E. Zuiker and Melina Kanakaredes. Though not offering anything unexpected, there is some clarification of the very minor story arcs, which are not always obvious in a season lasting twenty-four episodes
Rolling With Jamalot (7m43s): Is there that much interest in roller derby that it demands its own bonus feature. Or could it be the number of scantily clad women that makes it more appealing? This very short feature looks at the filming of the roller derby in Jamalot and includes interviews with Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes. Unfortunately, Sinise doesn't know quite as much about roller derby as does Mac Taylor.
A New Look From The 35th Floor (8m28s): CSI: New York moved location between seasons, swapping the dungeon of the first season for a glittering high-rise in the second. Writer/producer Anthony E. Zuiker is our guide as he walks us through the new set, including the labs, Mac's office and the view outside...or the $125k curtain that exists in place of an actual view.
Behind The Scenes (7m34s): Much like the other bonus features in this set, this short look at the making of an episode features interviews with the cast and crew but offers very little to the interested viewer. What's rather sweet, though, is the moment when Vanessa Ferlito comes back to the set to film her flashback scenes.
Season 2 Goes Out With A Bang (6m28s): CSI seasons have tended towards an explosive ending in recent years - think of Grave Danger at the end of Season 5 of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - but CSI: New York takes this to its ultimate conclusion by blowing up a building. This feature, like the others in the set, interviews Gary Sinise and Anthony E. Zuiker about their thoughts on the season finale and the efforts of the cast and crew in making it.
Finally, there is also a set of Previews (2m52s) for the DVD releases of McGyver, The 4400 and Star Trek.
I miss Boomtown a good deal, moreso now than I did when it was first cancelled. Not so much for the investigations in the show but for how well it dealt with the lives of the cops in the show with several story arcs that lasted through the entire first season. One, that of the death of Joel's child and the Internal Affairs investigation into it, ought to be a textbook example of how an ongoing story should be handled, much better than the out-of-the-blue glimpse of Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle sharing a bed in the dying moments of Season 6 of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Of the CSI shows, it's New York that handles this best, with characters that are believable and flatter one another, with Stella bringing out the best in Mac Taylor, who, in turn, brings out the humanity in Danny Messer and so on. For it being the last one to be developed, one can understand why it doesn't attract the viewing figures of Las Vegas and Miami but it is the best of the three shows, even to saying that it's the only one that I would still watch regularly. If only more said the same, justice would be served by this show.