CSI: New York: Season 3 Part 1 Review
It feels as though the years of banging on about CSI on this site haven't entirely been in vain. Granted, there's no more chance that Anthony Zuiker is reading what I've written on CSI over the years than he will be representing the US in the next Olympics in the pentathlon but having bored you all to tears about what CSI could be like, I was feeling as though those thousands of words were entirely pointless. And then CSI: New York Season 3 arrived on Five (and on DVD) and everything that I had hoped to see in CSI was there on the screen. Characters, flashbacks, humour and a couple of love affairs, it was all present, making this the best season in CSI.
The third season of CSI: New York begins in bed. Mac Taylor and Peyton Driscoll (Claire Forlani) are lying together when their his, and then her, mobile phones ring. Dressing, they leave separately but against the glow from police lights, the two of them arrive at the same place, in front of the police tape at a crime scene where Mac Taylor is on duty and where Peyton is the medical examiner. Exchanging pleasantries and greeting one another in the manner of those who are no more than friends, Peyton and Mac are business-like in their dealings, never letting their colleagues know of their relationship. Only in time will problems arise as the very private Mac Taylor finds himself falling in love with the more passionate Peyton and as one wants to keep their affair under wraps so the other asks that they be less of a secret. It's a relationship that will take an entire season to resolve itself.
Of course, there are still cases to be solved but what Season 3 of CSI: New York does very well is to mix the personal with the professional. Every character, not only Mac and Peyton, has some development and a personal moment or two. Not only must Mac contend with his falling in love with Peyton but he also learns that his wife, who died in the World Trade Centre on 9/11, gave birth to a son years before they met who arrives in New York in search of his mother. Not only does Mac have to get to know the boy but must break the news of the death of his mother to him. Elsewhere, and as this half-season ends, Lindsay reveals that she was the only survivor (and witness) of the killing of her friends back home. Stella finds the horror of the last season haunting her when she investigates the killing of a man by a woman in her own home, a woman who seems to know much about Stella's shooting a man the year before. Hawkes is framed for a murder, Flack is asked to hand over his notebook to Mac to close a case on a dirty cop, Danny has to relive his brother's petty dealings in crime and Sid Hammerback gets to describe the autopsy of a mummified woman as being like the perfect moment of sexual climax. It's a very Sid moment.
Three moments in this half-season define it better than any other. The first is when Mac and Peyton share a candlelit cake bought from a vending machine in the final minutes of their shift. On a deserted floor of their office and far away from where anyone can see them, Peyton offers Mac anything he wants from the machine and with a muffin, a candle and a cigarette lighter, she celebrates his birthday, something that she'd been trying to do since he was called away from the opera and was on call on a night they were meant to be together. The second standout scene comes at the end of Raising Shane, when serial killer Shane Casey (Edward Furlong), who had escaped from police custody, asks for Danny to come alone to a deserted bar. Without, fuss, fanfare or flashback, Shane brings up something from Danny's past, how he covered for his brother Louie, a member of the Tanglewood Boys, and draws a comparison between that and what he's done for his own brother. Danny, probably the best drawn character in any of the CSI shows, puts Shane straight on the differences between the two. Finally, there's a marvellous standoff between Flack and Mac Taylor over trust, with the former snorting in disbelief when Mac asks that Flack puts his faith in his decision to let a suspect go. Drawing on a case a few episodes before, they bring some conflict to CSI, which makes for a memorable couple of minutes.
There are, though, many great moments besides these three. However, what this season of CSI: New York does best is to portray its characters believably, if not its sometimes preposterous cases. Back at the end of Season 6 of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the big reveal of the relationship between Gil and Sara, there was the suspicion that Season 7 would make scant reference to it, perhaps somewhere around the seventh episode, again near the end and end on a cliffhanger involving the two. And so that came to pass. Such was the way in CSI. Then again, even that was positively fulsome when compared to the nonsense that has passed between Warwick and Catherine over the years. But in CSI: New York, the relationships between Mac and Peyton and Lindsay and Danny are entirely believable, written very well and with attention paid to what the audience knows of the characters. It might be business as usual on the streets of New York - with Hung Out To Dry and Raising Shane, CSI: New York has got two of the best stories since the first two Lady Heather episodes early in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - but what makes the very best season (and half-season) is the attention that is paid to what goes on away from the dead bodies, labs and crime scenes. When it begins in bed and ends with Mac and Peyton reconciled and hugging one another in her office, it is generous in leaving its audience a good many touching moments. And you can't say that about CSI very often.
People With Money: When a couple have bungee sex off the Brooklyn Bridge, they fall to the water and bounce right back up, they see the bloody corpse of a man lying in the steel frame. With Mac and Peyton arriving (separately), the team sets to work, trying to find out how a man who was on the bridge to propose marriage ended up dead. And what part did the Statue Of Liberty play in his murder?
Not What It Looks Like: Breakfast At Tiffanys comes to CSI when three women dressed as Holly Golightly arrive at an exclusive jewellery store and rob it of diamonds. At first, the CSI team set about finding out how they robbed the store and how an accident might have resulted in a killing but when one of the Hollys is found dead, it becomes a murder investigation. Elsewhere, a mummified body is discovered in a building that was due to be torn down. But when Mac identifies the body as being the missing wife of a high-profile councilman, the DA puts pressure on his team to deliver a case before Mac feels ready.
Love Run Cold: At the launch of a new vodka, one of the models is found murdered, killed by one of the bottles of ice in which the drink was being served. Danny and Lindsay have to work fast before the crime scene melts. Meanwhile, Mac and Stella arrive at Central Park after a runner dies during the marathon. But how did he freeze to death while running 26 miles on a relatively warm day.
Hung Out To Dry: At a frat party, a young couple are shocked when they discover blood dripping onto them from the headless body hanging above them. At first, the CSI team believe the murder to be as a result of the party but as heads clear the next morning, their interest in the body has them looking more carefully at the half-T-shirt the girl was wearing, which appears to be suffused in numerology and symbolism. Moments later, they receive a call to Central Park where a dog has found the head, digging it up from where it was buried, wrapped in the other half of the T-shirt. When the body of a man is discovered nailed to a tree through his eyes, they find that he is wearing a similarly unique T-shirt. It looks to be the second in a series. But the series doesn't appear to end at two.
Oedipus Hex: In a nightclub, the Suicide Girls are performing, during which blood pours down on them from the ceiling. But when the crowd clears and the blood dries, one of the girls is found murdered, with a stiletto heel through her head. Meanwhile, after a street match involving a professional basketball player, his homeless opponent is found dead, with the trail of blood leading back to near a church, a place the dead man visited shortly before his murder.
Open and Shut: During a photoshoot at a hotel involving a famously difficult model, a concierge falls to her death from a balcony and is impaled on a sculpture in the lobby. Investigating, the CSIs are surprised to hear gunshots in the same building, leading them to two crime scenes in the same location. But one of these brings back memories to Stella, ones that she'd hoped to leave far behind her.
Murder Sings The Blues: During a party on a subway train, a young woman collapses with blood pouring from her eyes, nose and mouth. Believing that she might be the victim of a biological or chemical attack, the CSIs move fast but when no one else shows any symptoms, their attention turns to murder. But how can they find a suspect out of a party on a crowded subway train that's long ended. Elsewhere, the body of Manhattan's most eligible bachelor is found in a jacuzzi in his apartment. But given how disliked he was in his apartment block, the CSIs find it difficult to see who wouldn't be a suspect.
Consequences: There's conflict between Flack and Mac Taylor when a man dies during a paintball game and the CSIs suspect dirty cops were involved. But this murder investigation also becomes manhunt when they discover a professional paintball player has gone missing and the trail seems to lead to a woman who went missing years before.
And Here's To You, Mrs Azrael: A road traffic accident involving two teenage girls leads to two deaths, one at the scene of the crash and another in the hospital. But one is murder and this brings Hawkes back into the hospital where he first served in practice. It also brings him into conflict with the doctor who he worked under and, for the first time, explains to Mac why it was that he first became a medical examiner.
Sweet Sixteen: A birthday party goes badly wrong when the father is found dead in the car he'd bought as a gift for his daughter. Opening the door, Lindsay is bitten by a snake, which might be the cause of death. Or is it? Elsewhere, a parachute jumper leaps from one of New York's skyscrapers but falls to his death when his chute strikes a flock of bloody homing pigeons. Murder? But who is the victim?
Raising Shane: When a bartender is murdered, the one and only witness points to Hawkes being the killer the moment he arrives at the crime scene. With Internal Affairs taking over the investigation, crime scene and the lab, Mac assigns his team to proving Hawkes' innocence on the QT. But who did kill the bartender and why is a CSI under suspicion?
Silent Night: A teenage girl is found dead in a house in the suburbs but Mac has a hard time making a case when he finds the main witness, who didn't actually see the killing, is deaf. He resorts to a novel means of identifying the weapon and, gaining Flack's trust, saving the family from any more misfortune. Meanwhile, Lindsay finds that she needs a friend more than ever and after leaving a couple of crime scenes, finally explains to Stella what's on her mind.
This is largely a reprint of the same section in the Season 1 and 2 reviews of CSI: New York from previous years. 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 this third season, like the second before it, is much brighter 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. As much as that was first written for the Region 1 release, it's just as relevant here as Momentum have always done sterling work with their CSI releases. This is no different and, given how good CSI: New York looks, might be amongst the best-looking of the CSI releases.
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. All of the episodes feature English subtitles.
Again? It's not as if Felony Flight and Manhattan Manhunt, the second of the two CSI: Miami and CSI: New York crossovers haven't already received an airing on DVD but here they are again. The two episodes are presented together on the first of the three discs here and following Horatio Caine's tracking Henry Darius from Miami, where he sabotaged a flight on which he was a passenger, the story ends in New York where Mac Taylor must arrest Darius a second time but with six more bodies added to his tally of kills.
The good news regarding Season 3 of CSI: New York is that it keeps on getting better. There's a terrific Internal Affairs investigation of Mac Taylor to come, a good (and very sweet) courtroom scene involving Lindsay, a medical crisis with Stella and, finally, a cracking episode that sees Mac and the rest of the team take on a group of Irish terrorists in the CSI offices and pitches Mac Taylor in Jason Bourne territory. And a great payoff with his, "London!" I've always liked CSI: New York moreso than the other CSI shows and this is the best of the three seasons to date. Las Vegas and Miami will have to work hard to keep up with this show.