PictureThe main feature is presented with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced transfer and easily looks the best that it has ever done on DVD. The detail is simply superb, with no noticeable edge enhancement, decent clarity and negligible softness. The grain is only present as required by the 'action' sequences and the colour scheme is broad, with all of the colours vividly represented, from the crimson blood red to the green neon of the glow-sticks. All of Tarantino's stand-out shots shine out, from his sun-drenched deserted ransom drop to his black and white autopsy scene, which showcases some excellent contrast and very solid blacks. It is an outstanding DVD presentation for a TV show.
SoundWe also get a superb Dolby Digital 5.1 track, made better still by Tarantino's choice in music. The vocals are presented clearly from the frontal array and we get plenty of effects, from doors being smashed in, to gunshots to explosions. All of the smaller ambient noises are also well observed and offer up some nice directionality from the surrounds. However the highlight is easily the music, with Tarantino's typical selection of classic sing-along songs happily playing back to back with CSI's standard fast beat tracks and only adding to the immersive environment of the show. There is even a little bit of bass, rounding out a brilliant track. CSI has never sounded better.
ExtrasIn the way of extras we get two episodes from the CSI franchise, the pilot episode to the original CSI series and the first episode of the spin-off CSI: Miami series (although, considering that the main feature is a CSI episode, perhaps it would have been better to have the cross-over episode, Cross-Jurisdictions, where the original CSI's first meet their Miami counterparts. Still, these are two solid extras to have, despite the fact that many fans of the show and its spin-offs will probably already have them.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Pilot is where it all began. Back when the show was presented in fullscreen (so here we only get non-anamorphic 1.33:1) and everybody was a few years' younger (clean shaven Grissom is much more Manhunter and much less Grave Danger in this pilot), this episode still displays all of the traits that have been followed through over subsequent successful series. Starting off with a grisly suicide that soon turns out to be a murder, we are introduced to all of the main characters, establishing Grissom's position (in anticipation of his forthcoming promotion to lead the team) and his strange penchant for insects, Nick and Warwick's competitive interaction and Catherine's family issues. It teases us with the short-lived new girl, Holly (who was soon replaced by the lovely Sarah) and it also marks the start of a long-running story arc between Grissom and his nemesis, which sees its conclusion several seasons later. It's a great pilot episode that showcases all of the reasons why many fans became addicted to this show right from the outset.
CSI: Miami - Golden Parachute is the first explosive Miami episode where David Caruso's Horatio Caine and his team look into a plane crash over the Everglades. Boasting the original theme music (that has been slightly modified since), the original team (from which Kim Delaney's Megan was soon to leave and further losses and additions would occur over the seasons) and a record number of clichéd lines and ideas, this is still an entertaining hit from the solid spin-off series. Many regard Miami as largely inferior over the original CSI series, mainly because it is so clichéd. Personally, I enjoy David Caruso's Caine just as much as William Petersen's Grissom, despite their being wholly different animals. Caruso is a similarly underrated actor whose minimal big screen success led to him eventually returning to his small-screen strengths. It would seem as though his talent is wasted in Miami by the hackneyed, contrived plots, irritating sound bite lines and silly tendency to take his sunglasses off and then put them back on, seemingly to punctuate his sentences, but I think that he is the only actor who can pull all of this off and still keep you entertained. His character's personal feelings never cloud his judgement (just like Grissom) but are much more prominent and act as the driving force in his cases, making this a more emotional and colourful journey than either the dark original CSI or the grey CSI: New York.
VerdictCSI: Crime Scene Investigation is a great TV series. Fans of the show simply cannot get enough of it. Those who do not like it are obviously not best pleased by so many seasons and so many spin-offs but if you are not yet persuaded either way then this release is possibly the best argument for getting started. Presented with a solid transfer and a superb soundtrack, along with a couple of brilliant extras, there is little more you could ask for on a single disc (although a Tarantino commentary would have been great!). If you're a fan then this also makes for a tempting buy, particularly if you cannot wait for - or did not like - the fifth season, as it easily gives you the best and most important episodes. If you're new to CSI then you should really start back at the beginning but if you're not convinced then go out and buy this - you won't be disappointed. Grave Danger is CSI at its best.
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