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CSI: NY Review

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by Simon Crust Oct 1, 2005 at 12:00 AM

    In the five years since Danny Cannon first broached the idea of a factually based science related police drama, the Crime Scene Investigation (C.S.I.) franchise has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. Surpassing its fifth year the original C.S.I. (Vegas) has spawned two spin off series' the latest of which C.S.I. N.Y. (New York) first hit the screen in 2004. The premise is pretty much the same, get a well established screen actor, in NY's case Gary Sinise, and surround him with young good looking actresses and actors, and set into a gritty 'crime of the week' formula with plenty of real forensic science to boot. It is a simple formula and one that has worked very well for the franchise as a whole, only the setting has changed. This is the skill of the developers, by changing the setting and introducing a whole new set of characters, the show looks and feels new when in fact is the same old show bundled up to look good. Thing is, it works.

    The leader of N.Y. C.S.I. is Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise), he is still grieving over his wife killed in the 9/11 attacks, but still has an innate sense of justice and is tireless in his pursuit of the truth. Next in command is Detective Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) equally as determined though there burns a woman's passion behind her steel eyes. Completing the 'above ground' crew is Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Aiden Burn (Vanessa Ferlito), young bucks with everything to prove. No forensic team is complete without its own mortician in this series it is Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Sheldon Hawkes played by Hill Harper. The group dynamic is a good one, even though in this first part of the first season, the episodes are more focused on introduction than interpersonal relationships, later season episodes become more involved in such themes. As it is the episodes are very much crime of the week with the team using ever outlandish forensic techniques, though all based in fact (supposedly), to catch their man. Like there forbearers the NY team are pretty infallible and can always manage to solve the case within the prerequisite forty minutes per episode. I've long thought that a series so realistic in its approach to forensics should try to make longer story arc episodes. Real life crime is rarely solved so quickly and it would be nice to perhaps have a few cases spread over several episodes, bring some real life time scales to the real life science. There are two episodes in this set that would be prime examples, Creatures of the Night the rape in the Central Park and Officer Blue, the mounted officer shot in Central Park. Both are left open until the final minutes when suddenly a lucky break manages to round up the episode in the allotted time. I felt both would have been better had that story been left open, or resolved in the next episode. However, looks like that probably won't happen, TV is a quick packaged easy sellable product, and why change a formula that is so universally accepted? Bruckheimer certainly won't.

    This set by Momentum brings us the first twelve episodes of the first season. The episodes bring us a variety of crimes and the problems that the C.S.I.'s have to solve them whilst stamping their own personality over the franchise. It has been suggested that the NY series is a cross between Vegas and Miami, a fair argument, since it contains the action of Miami, but retains some of the quirkiness of Vegas. This, for some, makes it the most accessible of all the series'. Personally there are a number of aspects that I don't like quite so much, first and most obvious are the accents, that awful NY drawl is just so grating, secondly, the over exposition of the forensics, now I know this is a feature of the series as a whole, but NY just seems too over the top. However, these petty points aside, CSI NY continues the traditions set out in the original draft, a grizzly murder solved by an expert forensic team, it is a winning formula that continues to enthral all that come across its path, and long may it continue to do so.

    One final note about this set, it doesn't contain the pilot crossover episode with Miami, a huge mistake in my book and as such devalues the entire set.