CSI: NY: Season Four
Back in the day when we of the baby boomer generation were still kids one of the most popular TV genres for our parents was the mystery crime show. Each week some private investigator would be approached by a desperate person pleading for him to solve a murder. The PI would pull on his jacket, toss his fedora hat upon his head and set out to bring the real murderer to justice. Usually the only help he would get are a few fairly obvious clues and a staff consisting of a secretary and quirky side kick. All he had was a gun and shoe leather to solve the crime. Well this approach is long gone now. Starting in the mid seventies science began to take the place of hitting the streets for clues with the series ‘Quincy M.E.’ Here the medical examiner used the latest equipment and techniques to track down the killer. This was taken to a new level in 2000 with ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’. That lead to the first spin off in 2002 with the Miami edition of the show and then in 2004 the franchise moved to New York City. All three current members of this set of series have one thing in common; the most advanced crime laboratories known to man. They can pull a fingerprint from a scrap of paper and run it through all the law enforcement data bases in record time. They are also able to get incriminating DNA from a mote of dust found at the crime scene. These men and women are part detective and part scientist so the criminals never stand a chance. The forth season of ‘CSI: NY’ is now on DVD through CBS-Paramount and it is a most have for all fans of the genre. We are in a new age of crime dramas on television and this is one of the best out there.
Each of the members of the CSI franchise have the same basic high tech theme but their locations make them each unique. With the one under consideration here, New York reflects this city’s special qualities. This is a city that is one of the most culturally diverse in the world. It contains people from hundreds of countries each with their own particular customs. New York is also a place where the ultra rich and the direst poor live side by side. This opens the way for the writers to be more imaginative than on the typical crime show. Where the directors in the Miami version of the series push the colors to the orange and yellow end of the spectrum this series is a variety if blues. This gives an icy detachment to the look and feel that reflects life in a busy city that never sleeps. In this forth season the writers moved away from the normal primary and secondary case format. There are a couple of crimes and situations that run through the season that provides a greater continuity to the season. This worked out well enough on the Las Vegas and Miami versions so it was only natural to try it here. This season uses a serial killer and a heinous stalker to tie the episodes together and allow for better than average character development.
The New York Criminal Investigation Unit is lead by Detective 1st Grade, Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise). He was widowed in the 911 attacks and is a former Marine. He runs his labs in an hands on fashion frequently dividing his time between supervising the lab work and going out in the field. He possesses unparalleled integrity and dedication to his job. At the end of the last season his relationship with a British medical examiner and went to London. While the relationship fell apart Mac began to get mysterious phone calls at exactly 3:33 a.m. each morning. It turns out that he is the target of a deranged and potentially deadly stalker. In the course of the season the clues lead him to Chicago to track the criminal. One of the main clues to his identity is a series on three dimensional puzzles usually of real buildings. By assembling the puzzle Mac is able to find clues in the real buildings. The deeper Mac gets into the mystery the more it looks like it involves a thirty year old murder case that concerned his brother. Mac’s second in command and partner is Detective 1st Grade Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes). She is extremely intelligent and can match Mac for devotion to the truth. She also has a platonic but deep relationship with Mac that helps them both support the demons in their respective pasts. Team member Detective 3rd Class Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) is someone that will be familiar to anyone born and raised in New York City. He is rough around the edges and has the tenacity of a pit bull while on a case. Mostly he is in the field collecting the evidence that is scrutinized back at the lab. On the street his partner is Detective 1st Grade Donald Flack, Jr. (Eddie Cahill), a non nonsense cop from a long line of police officers. Typically holding down the fort in the lab is Detective 3rd grade Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap). Like many who live in NYC she is a transplant from a small town, in this case Montana. She has an on again off again romantic relationship with Danny that is tested and becomes more serious in this season. Also on the team is Detective 3rd Grade Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) who transferred over to CSI from the medical examiner’s office. He is undoubtedly one of the most intelligent in the bunch and extremely intuitive. The most junior member of the team is Laboratory Technician Adam Ross (A.J. Buckley). He wants nothing more than earn his right to be a full fledged criminologist and is highly competitive especially with the other members of the junior staff.
Another story arc that covers several episodes is the serial killer on the loose in the City. He disguises himself as a yellow cab drive and murders his victims in the car. He has rigged the vehicle so the passenger cannot get out and then pumps exhaust fumes into the back of the taxi to kill. The son of Mac’s late wife, Reed Garrett (Kyle Gallner) has become an online investigative reporter and winds up getting too close to the investigation. This not only threatens to compromise the case but also makes him known to the killer. At first the murderer wants Reed to get his story out but soon the young man becomes the target of the killer. While the taxi cab killer is on the lose Mac still has to handle the usual killings that cross his desk. In one there is a murder in a private school and Mac resents having his limited resources pulled away from a serial killer investigation. Other crimes reflect the wide range of locations in NYC such as a murder in a self cleaning public restroom and a shark attack. One thing about this series is you never know what they will be up to.
As they did with the previous three season DVD box sets CBS-Paramount takes great care to give the fans what they want. Unlike most series that were drastically cut short by the Writer’s Guild strike this one managed to get almost a full number of episodes in, twenty one to be exact. Each one is mastered to perfection with an anamorphic 1.78:1 video and a rich Dolby 5.1 audio. There is a commentary track to the pivotal episode ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ as well as several featurettes. They include ‘Art Imitates Second Life’, ‘Dante’s Inferno Episode’, ‘Art Attack’ and a look at filming in New York. This is a series that will be something that you will watch and enjoy.