Make no mistake about it. CSI is not your father’s Quincy. The idea of forensic science on drama is not really a unique one. CSI makes its mark with an incredible style not seen before on TV or even in films. The cases are always engaging and the characters and writing remain strong. This second season set is far superior to the initial outing. Paramount finally got the message and released this set in widescreen and with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The packaging, however, is the same awkward and flimsy design offered in year one. The actors found their footing by the opening of season 2 and the action was amped up from the first season. Cases seem more “ripped from the headlines” and the gory CGI animations are much more graphic.
A huge improvement over the simple surround mix of the first set, this Dolby Digital 5.1 sound will reinvent what TV sound is. The mix is equal to many film releases. Highs and lows both exhibit dynamic performance. Dialogue is crisp and always clear. Even the music which I didn’t notice much in year one is simply outstanding.
My major complaint with year one was the disappointing picture compounded with the fact that it was produced by a big screen name like Bruckheimer. It seems the studio got the message. Not only do we now have the HDTV wide screen aspect ratio of 1.66:1 but gone is the nasty excessive grain, replaced instead with a brilliant digital picture. Colors are outstanding. The image would hold its own against most of Hollywood’s major motion pictures. While some episodes still display considerable grain inherent in the film style employed, it is never harsh. Blacks are pure with awesome depth.
You’ll get the standard 6 discs in this season two set. Discs 1-5 each contain 4 episodes. Disc 6 contains 6 episodes and a handful of extras…
- “Makeup, Music, and Special Effects” is a 10 minute presentation that provides 1 in-depth example of how each of the three are prepared and utilized to create the distinctive style of the show.
- “CSI Shooting Locations” is exactly what you might expect. It is a surprise to see how much of Vegas is really L.A.
- “CSI Tour” is a very short look at the sets and props of the show.
- “Tools of the Trade” is an interactive menu that allows you to highlight various forensic items and see or hear an explanation for them. Sort of a forensic primer.
- “Making of a Hit” is the longest feature at almost 12 minutes. Here you’ll see interviews with the production team including Jerry Bruckheimer about the making of season 2.
- Finally, three of the episodes feature commentaries with production personnel. While not the greatest tracks I’ve heard, it is an improvement again.
The menus are close to those found on the season one set… Navigation is a bit easier this time around.
If you have not purchased season 1 and you’re thinking of owning a season of CSI, make it this second effort. No question but it is superior in every way. The episodes themselves are more interesting. The writing is better. Not that any of these things were not already done well before, but add a better DVD package and this is the definitive CSI collection. Not just another chance to “follow the evidence”.