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
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.

CSI: Miami
Miami

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
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.

61 Comments

  1. I like the blonde woman with the southern accent on CSI Miami. Her name eludes me right now, but she was also on West Wing for a few episodes, and I LOVED her there. I love the fact that she doesn’t really hide her North Carolina accent.

  2. Ah ha! Yes, Emily Procter. I always hated that they couldn’t make her a regular on West Wing because her character was great, and she got great lines which she delivered beautifully! But I was glad to see her find a regular gig on CSI: Miami.
    And I also have a cupid doll with wings, but those wouldn’t show up as well in the avatar! 😀

  3. Emily is an actress grounded in the theatre. I hate seeing all the great actors leave the theatre for television and film but that’s where the big money can be found.
    Marlon Brando did “Streetcar Named Desire” live on Broadway and it made him a superstar — and NEVER came back from Hollywoodland.
    I wish we could see more of Emily on the show. I think they were planning to write her off at the end of last season — getting your character shot and/or quitting are sure signs the show finds the actor behind the road troublesome.
    She must have done and said the right things during the hiatus, though, because she’s back… but more in the background now.
    I think the “Antlers of Love” are perfect.

  4. Emily is an actress grounded in the theatre. I hate seeing all the great actors leave the theatre for television and film but that’s where the big money can be found.
    Marlon Brando did “Streetcar Named Desire” live on Broadway and it made him a superstar — and NEVER came back from Hollywoodland.
    I wish we could see more of Emily on the show. I think they were planning to write her off at the end of last season — getting your character shot and/or quitting are sure signs the show finds the actor behind the road troublesome.
    She must have done and said the right things during the hiatus, though, because she’s back… but more in the background now.
    I think the “Antlers of Love” are perfect.

  5. I don’t watch CSI too much. I’ve probably have watched just a couple of the shows from the Las Vegas version.
    Speaking about police procedural shows, have you ever watched FX’s “The Shield?” I find that show fascinating.

  6. I don’t watch CSI too much. I’ve probably have watched just a couple of the shows from the Las Vegas version.
    Speaking about police procedural shows, have you ever watched FX’s “The Shield?” I find that show fascinating.

  7. Hi Chris —
    The original version of CSI has been on since 2000 and I could not get into it, either. Once you watch a couple of episodes in a row you get hooked. SpikeTV runs CSI reruns for several hours a night.
    I have not yet watched “The Shield.” Is that about a rogue cop who breaks all the laws to get the bad guys?

  8. Hi Chris —
    The original version of CSI has been on since 2000 and I could not get into it, either. Once you watch a couple of episodes in a row you get hooked. SpikeTV runs CSI reruns for several hours a night.
    I have not yet watched “The Shield.” Is that about a rogue cop who breaks all the laws to get the bad guys?

  9. “The Shield” is the story of a precinct in Los Angeles –although it is never said — the fictional city is Farmington.
    The protagonist is Vic Mackey (played by Michael Chiklis). He’s the leader of the “strike team” that goes out and gathers intelligence and battles against gangs, organized crime figures, and other ne’er-do-wells who inhabit Farmington. The strike team usually gets the job done when the other detectives and officers are unable.
    The strike team members are also crooked — the strike team robbed an organized crime group and has the money locked away.
    This season has him facing investigation by the Internal Affairs Division (Forrest Whitaker plays the detective trying to bust Mackey). There’s also word that the brass wants to force him into early retirement to get rid of him.
    There is no clear line of right or wrong in the show. I’m rooting for Mackey, even though he’s a crooked cop. The show shows that for every act of evil he does (and there’s a lot of evil he has done), there’s another human side that we want to support. Maybe Mackey can be redeemed. His heart seems in the right place, even if his actions aren’t always completely within the law.

  10. “The Shield” is the story of a precinct in Los Angeles –although it is never said — the fictional city is Farmington.
    The protagonist is Vic Mackey (played by Michael Chiklis). He’s the leader of the “strike team” that goes out and gathers intelligence and battles against gangs, organized crime figures, and other ne’er-do-wells who inhabit Farmington. The strike team usually gets the job done when the other detectives and officers are unable.
    The strike team members are also crooked — the strike team robbed an organized crime group and has the money locked away.
    This season has him facing investigation by the Internal Affairs Division (Forrest Whitaker plays the detective trying to bust Mackey). There’s also word that the brass wants to force him into early retirement to get rid of him.
    There is no clear line of right or wrong in the show. I’m rooting for Mackey, even though he’s a crooked cop. The show shows that for every act of evil he does (and there’s a lot of evil he has done), there’s another human side that we want to support. Maybe Mackey can be redeemed. His heart seems in the right place, even if his actions aren’t always completely within the law.

  11. Soos —
    Her name is Anna Belknap and she, too, is a theatre actress on television. She has great promise, but she is rough and inexperienced on the show. She overplays her part and is too obvious in confronting the suspects. Part of that is bad writing. Part of it is woeful direction. Part of it is her not feeling comfortable in the role.

  12. Soos —
    Her name is Anna Belknap and she, too, is a theatre actress on television. She has great promise, but she is rough and inexperienced on the show. She overplays her part and is too obvious in confronting the suspects. Part of that is bad writing. Part of it is woeful direction. Part of it is her not feeling comfortable in the role.

  13. i think that early episodes of almost any successful show are usually the best. My favorite show, probably of all time, is Alias. I always meant to start watching the show from the beginning, but I kept forgetting it was on in its Sunday 9pm timeslot. Finally, I got started in the second season, which I think was its best. Since then, the show hasn’t been up to par, but season four and this season, the fifth and final I feel are stronger than the third – which wasn’t as good, but was still better than a lot of other TV shows.
    Luckily, I learned my lesson with JJ Abrams shows and started watching Lost from the beginning. I hope it doesn’t take a downward spiral like Alias, but so far, it’s one of the few that I don’t miss. It might even surpass Alias by the time it finishes it’s run.

  14. i think that early episodes of almost any successful show are usually the best. My favorite show, probably of all time, is Alias. I always meant to start watching the show from the beginning, but I kept forgetting it was on in its Sunday 9pm timeslot. Finally, I got started in the second season, which I think was its best. Since then, the show hasn’t been up to par, but season four and this season, the fifth and final I feel are stronger than the third – which wasn’t as good, but was still better than a lot of other TV shows.
    Luckily, I learned my lesson with JJ Abrams shows and started watching Lost from the beginning. I hope it doesn’t take a downward spiral like Alias, but so far, it’s one of the few that I don’t miss. It might even surpass Alias by the time it finishes it’s run.

  15. Carla —
    I have yet to watch “Alias” or “Lost” though “24” is a current favorite.
    Jennifer Garner never did anything for me as an actress so I think that’s why I skipped “Alias.”
    By the time I heard about “Lost” it was mid-season and I knew there was no way I’d catch up on what had already happened.

  16. Carla —
    I have yet to watch “Alias” or “Lost” though “24” is a current favorite.
    Jennifer Garner never did anything for me as an actress so I think that’s why I skipped “Alias.”
    By the time I heard about “Lost” it was mid-season and I knew there was no way I’d catch up on what had already happened.

  17. I have been a huge fan of CSI since it started. Took me awhile to warm up to Miami and I am still trying to warm up to NY. NY just doesn’t do it for me at this point. Not sure why. CSI has such an appeal about it. Even Miami can’t touch it. I think it is definitely the actors and actresses on the original. They make that show that much better.
    I also just got done watching the first season of Alias. Damn addicting! I never wanted to stop watching. Now it’s on to season 2.
    Lost and 24 are two that I plan to borrow after I catch up on Alias. I have seen bits and pieces of them. They seem to be pretty addictive too.

  18. I have been a huge fan of CSI since it started. Took me awhile to warm up to Miami and I am still trying to warm up to NY. NY just doesn’t do it for me at this point. Not sure why. CSI has such an appeal about it. Even Miami can’t touch it. I think it is definitely the actors and actresses on the original. They make that show that much better.
    I also just got done watching the first season of Alias. Damn addicting! I never wanted to stop watching. Now it’s on to season 2.
    Lost and 24 are two that I plan to borrow after I catch up on Alias. I have seen bits and pieces of them. They seem to be pretty addictive too.

  19. Hi Jake!
    It’s nice to have you with us and we thank you for your insightful comment on CSI!
    CSI: NY feels tired and it is the newest show. It must be hard for any production team to do the same show three times each week. At least “Law and Order” focused on different areas of law and order each week to add some variety. When you hear “Send it to trace” six times a week instead of twice a week your ear begins to get tired and the NY show is the last of the three shows to air each week so it is especially vulnerable to the audience burnout effect.

  20. Hi Jake!
    It’s nice to have you with us and we thank you for your insightful comment on CSI!
    CSI: NY feels tired and it is the newest show. It must be hard for any production team to do the same show three times each week. At least “Law and Order” focused on different areas of law and order each week to add some variety. When you hear “Send it to trace” six times a week instead of twice a week your ear begins to get tired and the NY show is the last of the three shows to air each week so it is especially vulnerable to the audience burnout effect.

  21. Like Jake, I am a diehard fan of CSI Las Vegas. Heck, I even collect all the DVDs right from the first season to the 5th season. And currently with the new season 6, I think CSI just go from strength to strength.
    Personally, I think what makes CSI is so addictive is not solely based on the case files but the character development that makes viewers root for the characters (and the cases, of course). Each episode let the viewers see the underlying layers by layers of each different personality, which make them more ‘human’, ‘normal’ and ohsooriginal.
    But thats my 2 cents worth 😉

  22. Like Jake, I am a diehard fan of CSI Las Vegas. Heck, I even collect all the DVDs right from the first season to the 5th season. And currently with the new season 6, I think CSI just go from strength to strength.
    Personally, I think what makes CSI is so addictive is not solely based on the case files but the character development that makes viewers root for the characters (and the cases, of course). Each episode let the viewers see the underlying layers by layers of each different personality, which make them more ‘human’, ‘normal’ and ohsooriginal.
    But thats my 2 cents worth 😉

  23. Hi sHa —
    It’s a pleasure to meet you and I thank you for taking the time to post a comment here!
    I agree the Las Vegas version is quite wonderful and it’s great the producers have not sacrificed the quality of the original show in deference to getting the other two versions working.
    You’re right the character development is addictive. I haven’t seen all the shows yet. Was Grissom’s hearing loss ever dealt with on the show in a final way or did they just mention it a few times and then let it die out?
    Who is the mole on the Miami show? They mention it then it just fades away.
    In a recent show this season it seemed to suggest that Stokes’ was the one to ran the car into the bad female attorney in the parking garage. Grissom told Stokes she was involved in his abduction and Stokes already knew that but there was no way he could know that unless he was the killer. The expression of subdued horror on Grissom’s face at this slip of by Stokes was quite ripe with opportunity and foreknowing.

  24. Hi sHa —
    It’s a pleasure to meet you and I thank you for taking the time to post a comment here!
    I agree the Las Vegas version is quite wonderful and it’s great the producers have not sacrificed the quality of the original show in deference to getting the other two versions working.
    You’re right the character development is addictive. I haven’t seen all the shows yet. Was Grissom’s hearing loss ever dealt with on the show in a final way or did they just mention it a few times and then let it die out?
    Who is the mole on the Miami show? They mention it then it just fades away.
    In a recent show this season it seemed to suggest that Stokes’ was the one to ran the car into the bad female attorney in the parking garage. Grissom told Stokes she was involved in his abduction and Stokes already knew that but there was no way he could know that unless he was the killer. The expression of subdued horror on Grissom’s face at this slip of by Stokes was quite ripe with opportunity and foreknowing.

  25. I just have to add…Best. Show. On. Television. I’m still catching up on all the seasons thru Netflix and right now watching season 5 😀 I’m a bit of a snob though and only watch Vegas.

  26. I just have to add…Best. Show. On. Television. I’m still catching up on all the seasons thru Netflix and right now watching season 5 😀 I’m a bit of a snob though and only watch Vegas.

  27. It’s like a loyalty thing for me or something…like the others are imposters. Oh and I can’t stand Caruso. I’ll probably check out the show sometime but for now I’m satisfied 😀

  28. It’s like a loyalty thing for me or something…like the others are imposters. Oh and I can’t stand Caruso. I’ll probably check out the show sometime but for now I’m satisfied 😀

  29. Yeah, it’s too bad she ruined her lips, though. She got the same “tube implant” in her upper lip like Lisa Rinna and Goldie Hawn when the procedure first came out years ago. Now plastic surgeons use butt fat and inject it into your lips for a more natural pouty look. Too many women are trying too hard to look like Angelina Jolie!

  30. Yeah, it’s too bad she ruined her lips, though. She got the same “tube implant” in her upper lip like Lisa Rinna and Goldie Hawn when the procedure first came out years ago. Now plastic surgeons use butt fat and inject it into your lips for a more natural pouty look. Too many women are trying too hard to look like Angelina Jolie!

  31. I just said that yesterday to my friend when she mentioned Meg Ryan’s lips. I said they are all trying to look like Angelina Jolie…that’s weird. I love her lips but I’d look rediculous with them.

  32. I just said that yesterday to my friend when she mentioned Meg Ryan’s lips. I said they are all trying to look like Angelina Jolie…that’s weird. I love her lips but I’d look rediculous with them.

  33. I like CSI, the original series, but haven’t watched an episode in a while. I tend to get burnt out on these long running shows after a while.
    CSI Miami is okay but the Horatio character played by Caruso is so annoying to me. He doesn’t seem to work so hard as Grissom or the CSI NY guy played by Sinise. He just plonks on the sunglasses and makes a wisecrack.
    CSI NY has its moments but has a ways to go to even get to CSI Miami’s level.
    Been watching the “Bones” series about the FBI guy and the anthropologist. Criminal Minds is another series I am getting into.
    Mik

  34. I like CSI, the original series, but haven’t watched an episode in a while. I tend to get burnt out on these long running shows after a while.
    CSI Miami is okay but the Horatio character played by Caruso is so annoying to me. He doesn’t seem to work so hard as Grissom or the CSI NY guy played by Sinise. He just plonks on the sunglasses and makes a wisecrack.
    CSI NY has its moments but has a ways to go to even get to CSI Miami’s level.
    Been watching the “Bones” series about the FBI guy and the anthropologist. Criminal Minds is another series I am getting into.
    Mik

  35. Hey Mik!
    I can understand how you might get burned out on a show. CSI is the same thing week in and week out. Sometimes the telling is different, but they usually always get the bad guy in the end.
    😀
    You’re right Caruso doesn’t get his hands dirty. He’s more cop than CSI Tech. You either love him or hate him. I have always loved the guy. I think he’s incredibly talented. His new love affair with his Tech’s dying sister is creepy, though. She is so beautiful and he is sooooo crypt-keeper old. Uck!
    CSI: NY is just sad right now. They could make it work, though. It needs to get grittier and more real – replace the cast except for Gary — and they’ll have a hit.
    I haven’t seen Bones. Criminal Minds is interesting though Mandy annoys me in the way Caruso annoys you. NUM3ERS is another show that has promise but just comes off silly.

  36. Hey Mik!
    I can understand how you might get burned out on a show. CSI is the same thing week in and week out. Sometimes the telling is different, but they usually always get the bad guy in the end.
    😀
    You’re right Caruso doesn’t get his hands dirty. He’s more cop than CSI Tech. You either love him or hate him. I have always loved the guy. I think he’s incredibly talented. His new love affair with his Tech’s dying sister is creepy, though. She is so beautiful and he is sooooo crypt-keeper old. Uck!
    CSI: NY is just sad right now. They could make it work, though. It needs to get grittier and more real – replace the cast except for Gary — and they’ll have a hit.
    I haven’t seen Bones. Criminal Minds is interesting though Mandy annoys me in the way Caruso annoys you. NUM3ERS is another show that has promise but just comes off silly.

  37. i luv david caruso in csi because he really suits the part his face and his voice is strong and fearfull but it is still caring and he lets you know you are always safe around him

  38. i luv david caruso in csi because he really suits the part his face and his voice is strong and fearfull but it is still caring and he lets you know you are always safe around him