CSI: NY: Season Three
What is the most popular genre seems to rotate over the years. At one point it was westerns, then lawyer series or hospital dramas. We have been in the age of the crime drama for almost ten years now with two of the most successful franchises ever placed on television; Law & Order and CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). While the former is always based in New York City it took the third member of the CSI family to make it to the Big Apple. There are several factors as to why CSI has remained a ratings giant but the most important is it gives the audience what they want, action, mystery and just the right touch of soap opera. The use of forensic science to solve crimes is nothing new. After all Sherlock Holmes has been working out of Baker Street for about a century using his Bunsen burner and chemicals to locate the killer. Each of the three CSI series also reflects the city they are set in. Las Vegas has the high roller gamblers amidst those regular people looking for a big score. In Miami there is the discrepancy between the ultra rich and the many immigrants. When CSI came to New York City it had at its disposal one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. This city contains people from just about every culture imaginable and that makes for a perpetual source of story lines for the series. Story treatments are easy for CSI: NY as long as the writers maintain their subscriptions to the Daily News, New York Time and New York Post. This is the grittiest of the three CSI shows, it gets down and dirty in the streets of the city with detectives that are always coming upon some of the strangest crimes scenes possible.
The leader of the forensics team is Detective 1st Grade, Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise). He is a former Marine who lost his wife in the Twin Tower attack. He is a straight shooter who lives by his love of country, devotion to his city and dedication to the integrity of his laboratory. Mac’s right hand both in the field and the lab is detective 1st Grade Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes). She is bright, dedicated and hard working; never giving up on the case at hand. Stella has a eye for details and is an excellent scientist and detective. She is also a bit of a mother hen when it comes to Mac. Detective 3rd Class Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) is the prototypical New Yorker. His family was suspected of organized crime ties but Danny is all blue when it comes to his being a police officer. His usual partner in the field is Detective 1st Grade Donald Flack, Jr. (Eddie Cahill). Don is from a long line New York City police officers. While not a CSI he is an excellent detective and bridges the gap between the regular cops and the scientist in the lab. The junior member of the CSI is a transplant from Montana Detective 3rd grade Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap). She is a country girl in the big city but is rapidly getting used to the fast pace world of New York City. For most of season three she has a teasing relationship with Danny. Detective 3rd Grade Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) was once a medical examiner but turned CSI in the third season. He has a near genius I.Q. and is fast to piece together the clues. Running the tests and research behind the scenes is Laboratory Technician Adam Ross (A.J. Buckley) who is bright and eager to please. The newest addition to the cast comes in at the start of season three. Dr. Peyton Driscoll (Claire Forlani) is a London born physician who works as a medical examiner and has a growing relationship with Mac.
Like the other CSI series each week’s episode has an ‘A’ and ‘B’ crime. The high profile ‘A’ story line is usually followed by Mac and Stella while Danny and the rest of the crew work the ‘B’ crime. On several occasions it is discovered that the two have a lot in common and the whole team unites to solve the overall case. Like their brethren in Las Vegas and Miami the CSIs of New York come across some of the most innovative ways to terminate a person’s life. In one episode the crime scene is a night club where new vodka was being premiered. The room is full of ice sculptures and kept at near artic temperatures. One of the models presenting the new drink is stabbed to death with a piece of ice. The team has to race to gather evidence before it melts. In another case the dominate clue are messages hidden in tee shirt designs. The team has to decipher the messages and find the killer before he strikes again. This series can go from the streets to high society in a blink of an eye. One episode has a murder in the French Consulate at the U.N. Mac and Stella have to over come the difficulties involved with those protected by diplomatic immunity while trying to find the killer. Meanwhile in the ‘B’ story Danny and Lindsay search for a murderer where the only clue is a cockroach with over $100,000 in gems glued to its shell. Finally there is a murder mystery where the most common inhabitant of NYC is on display.
This series is typically New York City. At times it comes across as jaded with characters that confront the extremely unusual even bizarre with a ‘seen that’ attitude. It does capture the wide range of people who call themselves New Yorkers. There is also a little lesson in the commonality of man. Whether the culprit is rich and famous or a low life working the streets the motivations are the same, greed, lust and desire. CSI: NY also has its own look and feel. Miami is filmed so the colors are pushed to the yellows but here in NYC the palette is in the blue range. This gives the episodes a visually harder edge then the others. The pacing is even, the stories flow nicely keeping the audience engaged completely.
Gary Sinise is an experienced and talented actor who brings his ‘A’ game to this series. He plays Mac as a complicated, fully developed human being. There is nuance to his performance that you don’t often see in broadcast television. Sinise has the ‘every man’ quality that allows the audience to identify with him. He also displays the traditional attributes of a humble hero, truth, justice and the American way. Melina Kanakaredes has made the transition from her own series, Providence’ to this ensemble cast with ease and grace. She gives a performance of a woman caught in the modern world trying to make a difference and carve out her own identity. Carmine Giovinazzo is a New Yorker’s New Yorker. This should come as no surprise since he is one of the only cast members to actually be a native of New York City. He is brash, rough around the edges but also caring and dedicated.
Some of the best television season sets on DVD are coming out of Paramount. Since they produce most of the series on CBS they have some of the highest rated shows around and they give a DVD worthy of this claim. The anamorphic 1.78:1 video is excellent; well done with realistic color and contrast, palette push to blue included. The Dolby 5.1 audio really pulls you into the city with little Foley effects like the distant roar of a subway or a street vendor. Typical of a Paramount season set release this one has plenty of extras to inform and entertain. Four pivotal episodes have commentary tracks that help the audience understand what went into the making of the episode. There are also four featurettes included. One is ‘Breaking the Killer Code’ that looks at the cryptography used in one episode. Next there is the ‘Suicide Girls Rock CSI: NY’ where the famous burlesques troupe shows their stuff. One episode, ‘Silent Night’ is featured in a special making of treatment. Last there is a bit with Hill Harper who shows the audience the bodies used in the series. This is one for your collection, enjoy.