You would think that after seven years, CSI would begin to show a little wear and tear around the edges. When you factor in the dilution of the two other versions of the franchise with a combined 8 years of episodes, you end up with 15 years and over 250 episodes of CSI total. Certainly even the best of shows with the most imaginative writers can’t stay fresh for that long. Still, somehow, the gang at CSI continues to crank out compelling drama, rarely repeating itself. Every year I go into a new season of CSI expecting to find it starting to show its age a bit, and every year I continue to be amazed. The fact is that season 7 just might be the best year of CSI to date. Each episode begins with The Who asking the question: Who are you? I have to say that after seven years the answer is, still a fan.
For the two or three people on the planet that don’t know, the idea is actually quite a simple one. Gil Grissom (Petersen) and his night shift crime scene investigators utilize all of the latest science to solve often brutal crimes. Instead guns, these detectives come packing microscopes and test tubes. The most senior member of the team is former Vegas showgirl Catherine Willows (Helgenberger) who juggles her long hours with raising a daughter. She usually provides the more clear-headed perspective. Grissom’s mild love interest is feisty Sara Sidle (Fox). Warrick Brown (Dourdan) is a former gambling addict with tremendous drive and passion. He’s the most soft spoken of the group. Promoted from the DNA lab is Greg Sanders (Szmanda). Sanders is often the comic relief, and while a solid team member, often gets into a spot of trouble. He’s the fresh eyes on the team, likely to be most identified with by the audience. Nick Stokes (Eads) is the macho man in the group. The team often works with Lt. Brass (Guilfoyle) and medical examiner Robbins (Hall). Together they follow the evidence wherever it might take them.
CSI took some big chances this year, and it paid off handsomely. This season gave us our first season-long case. A murderer makes picture perfect miniature diaramas of the murder scenes and sends them to Grissom. It isn’t until the end of the season and several episodes of miniature killings that the case is finally solved. Petersen’s desire to do some theatre meant Grissom went on leave for a handful of episodes. He was temporarily replaced with Keppler, a former Baltimore CSI. Keppler (Schrieber) isn’t afraid to bend the rules and suffers from personal involvement in his cases, leading to his eventual downfall and the return of Grissom. In Living Legend Roger Daltry guests in five roles. Lady Heather returns in The Good The Bad The Dominatrix sporting a Sergio Leone style western murder. Toe Tags is a story told from the perspective of several victims in the morgue’s cooling unit. There’s plenty for every kind of CSI fan to love in season 7, to be sure. There are even shape shifting aliens.
Each episode of CSI is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. There isn’t anything at all to complain about in the transfer. Colors are bright and vibrant, always jumping from the screen in wonderful detail. Sharpness is tight, perhaps too tight. There isn’t a blemish to be found. Black levels are rock solid. Flesh tones are a bit too dark at times, but this is apparently an intended effect.
There are audio commentaries on a few episodes that provide nice insight from time to time without being too distracting.
Disc 7 contains all of the remaining features for this set.
Inside Built To Kill: This episode utilized the famous Vegas act Cirque du Soleil. This 9 minute feature discusses the act and how the production was worked into the episode. A condition of the group’s appearance required that neither the victim nor the killer could be a member of the troupe. We get to see some of the complicated staging and choreography of the show. Members of the troupe talk about the experience. The performance is held on a stage that moves in all kinds of directions while the performers work their intricate wireworks and dance moves. For me this was entirely too much like ballet.
Miniature Murders: One of the most exciting stories ever to come from CSI, the Miniature Murder cases were without a doubt the most intriguing. Several episodes are devoted to this case as is a nearly 14 minute feature. The detail and work involved is as interesting as the case itself.
Who Are You Inside Living Legend: Again Roger Daltry makes a CSI appearance. His involvement is entirely appropriate, as all three CSI shows use songs from The Who as their themes. Daltry is involved in some substantial makeup work to create his master of disguise villain.
The Evolution of CSI Season 7: The show truly has broken new ground this season. It’s no surprise to hear all of these folks associated with the show brag that they believe this was the best year yet. What is a surprise is that they’re right. You get a look at some of the major ideas for the season and how some of them worked out.
Smoke and Mirrors – Directing Feature Television: This is a nice change of pace as we see CSI from the eyes of its stable of directors. Ken Fink, Richard Lewis, Jeffrey Hunt, Brad Tanenbaum, Michael Slovis, and Martha Collidge talk about their directing philosophy and what they think makes CSI special.