I was never a big CSI fan until six months ago when I stumbled onto a rerun. I enjoyed watching the show then and ever since that time I have been working overtime to get caught up on all three versions of the show. I realize the scientific process demonstrated on the show is silly so this review will concentrate on the acting and the storytelling.
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
The original show is still the best of the lot.
William Petersen, always funny and cranky, leads an excellent cast.
The sign of excellent direction on a show is all the actors are equally magnificent and the pioneering CSI show is packed with actors who reveal pieces of their spirit in every episode.
That kind of acting effort takes energy and dedication and that special dedication to purpose is what makes the supporting cast around Petersen so inviting.
The storylines are strong and always inventive and interesting.
David Caruso leads the Miami version of CSI and I have always loved David since he made a quirky, unique, and smashing debut on Hill Street Blues in 1981.
David has recovered from his NYPD Blue demons and I am thrilled to see him back in top form on episodic television. I realize he has an affected acting style. I know he can be over-drawn and intense. I accept his craggy face can get old and tiring to watch.
I accept all those bits of David as the structure of the whole of the man who, as an actor, can change lives and intentions with a look. I anticipate the opening sequence of each episode when David predictably puts on his sunglasses, looks into the camera, and says a pithy line that takes us directly to commercial that overdrawn moment is like the sun coming up in the morning for me — it makes my day!
The cast surrounding David are generally on-point and interesting. The stories center on the urban core in Miami and I find that enlightening.
The bright colors of Miami contrasted with the dark and grey underworld sets up a tremendous and ongoing conflict. CSI: Miami is my favorite CSI show to watch because of David Caruso but the original CSI is a better written show.
CSI: New York
I fear CSI: New York is unwatchable except for the flailing, but valiant, effort of Gary Sinise to save each episode.
Gary started in the theatre, so he is well-trained and effective and by the strength of his acting he alone saves terrible scripts by giving us something else to watch and enjoy: His mind in action as he tries to solve the crimes.
You cannot do better than Gary Sinise as a support structure for a television series, but Gary Sinise deserves a better cast — fire them all and start over — and stronger storylines. The actors around Gary are intolerable. All of them. From their over-acting to their faked New York accents they all grate on you as you consciously count the moments until Gary returns to save the scene.
The show is weakly scripted and poorly cast — if the mark of a great cast is an outstanding director, then the reverse must also hold true: An ineffective cast means disappointing direction. CSI: New York must be cancelled and Gary Sinise should be retired to Miami to join David Caruso’s terrific cast and show to make CSI: Miami the greatest of all the CSI shows.
CSI: The Show
CSI is the hallmark of a history-making show. The early episodes are always better than those that air now — simply because there was an eagerness to find success and establish a solid footing and everyone was giving their best at all times. As successful shows age they become familiar and ordinary for everyone creating and watching and it takes even more effort in a show’s twilight to keep it as bright and alive as its dawning.