“Happy 200th, everybody. Only 75 shows in the history of television have reached 200 episodes. Only 4 other shows currently on the air have produced 200 episodes, and of those only 2 feature live actors. And, it’s worth noting that both of those shows were in the top of the Nielsen ratings before CSI came along and knocked them off of that perch.”
And, after 9 years and over 200 episodes, CSI has enjoyed an almost unprecedented near decade as the number one show in the country. It’s a rare thing to go so long and keep the core of your team intact. Up until now CSI has added characters, but has not lost a major character. But things are about to change. If you’re a fan of the original idea, this is an important season set to own. It’s all going to change quite significantly in season 9. William Petersen leaves mid-season. Dourdan is also already gone. The actor found himself in a considerable legal jam and was forced from the show. His character gets killed off in the beginning of the 9th season. Finally Jorja Fox, who had been playing a several year game of I quit/no I don’t with the series, finally opted out at the end of season 8. Petersen will remain as an executive producer.
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 of 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. 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.
As some players leave, two major players enter the CSI world in season 9. The most touted, of course, was the addition of Laurence Fishburne as Dr. Raymond Langston. Langston is the replacement for Grissom, but the show executives played it right. He comes in as a former medical doctor. He’s one of those quiet subdued genius types. But, he enters the unit with no real knowledge of the CSI world. He starts from the bottom. He’s a quick study and eventually becomes the group’s leader. It was smart to bring in a very different kind of character and force him to earn his way to that position. I think the transition will really help the fans adjust to losing their center on the series. He’s not much like Grissom at all. He’ll slam a guy’s head into a table to get answers. He eventually does become the teacher personality that Grissom filled on the show. It’s a wonderful character arc, and this season is going to be crucial to future years in order to fully appreciate the new character.
Also joining this year is Lauren Lee Smith as CSI Riley Adams. She’s the newbie/rookie character. She’s not shy and has a rather sharp and barbed wit to her. She understands she has to learn, but she’s not going to be shy and deferring to the others. It’s a strong character that I already like far better than Sarah Sidle. She’s really there to replace Warrick, but fits the Sarah role far better.
The lab rats continue to develop and have become a major element to the show over the years. They get another stand-out lab rats episode. This one points its wit at the Star Trek culture and is a blast…a phaser blast, that is. CSI might have changed considerably, but the style and solid production remains intact. As years go on this will be considered a critical year for the series, and you can now own it on Blu-ray.
Each episode of CSI is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. You get a spectacular 1080p image brought to you through a solid AVC/MPEG-4 codec. I have to say that Paramount absolutely leads the way in television on Blu-ray. No one even comes close. Everything about this image presentation is nearly perfect from the razor sharp image down to the stunning level of sharpness and detail. The image is a perfect example of what HD on television should look like. Colors are exceptional and bright when they are supposed to be. The stylistic CGI demonstrations are very impressive. Black levels offer some of the deepest and cleanest blacks I’ve seen to date. Flesh tones are a bit too dark at times, but this is apparently an intended effect. Bravo!
The DTS-HD-Master Audio 7.1 track is nothing short of excellent. As if the original needed any improvement, this presentation is crystal clear and very smartly mixed. Ambient are aggressive when necessary, but mostly the show provides plenty of the important dialog moments. Unlike many shows, CSI is often a pretty silent show. Often there is merely subtle music or sounds as a characters works through a puzzle in the lab. These moments actually stand out and help to keep this series on the cutting edge of audio and visual presentation. There is excellent production value all the way around.
The episodes are spread out over 6 discs. Each disc contains selected commentary tracks, deleted scenes, interactive modes on a couple of episodes, and BDLive content. In addition you will find the following:
Rats In Space: (27:20) HD The episode “A Space Oddity” features a murder at a Star Trek-like science fiction convention. As we explore the murder, the lab rats get to come center stage again. Hodges is a big fan of a Trek-styled 60’s show and has fantasies that involve Natalie. This feature gives us a lot of close looks at the sets, props, and costumes of the amusing episode. The cast also talks about how much fun they had doing the episode.
From 0 to 200 In Nine Seasons: (18:54) HD This feature looks at the 200th episode, which was directed by film director William Friedkin. You get to see the part and celebration and hear a few speeches. You also get a look behind the Mexican Wrestling culture that is the theme of the episode.
Goodbye Grissom: (17:39) HD William Petersen talks about his feelings for the character and his reasons for moving on. It’s all a bit sappy at times. There’s the expected love-fest comments, but there is also some candor from several other cast members about moving on.
I didn’t get to see the earlier release of season 1 on Blu-ray. So, this is my first look at CSI on Blu. I just can’t tell you enough how happy I’ve been with Paramount’s Blu-ray television releases. Someone there is doing things right. Every other studio needs to take a close look at shows like CSI and the original Star Trek series and see what the possibilities are. Compare them to your shows, and I think you’re in for a big surprise. What a wonderful treat for the show’s fans, and what wonderful respect for the people who work so hard to make this show look good to have it so well presented here. “I’m really impressed.”