I love CSI and have been an avid fan from day one. I think it brought a fresh look to the procedural crime dramas that have long ago become just a little stale and predictable. The problem is that the series has gone the Dick Wolf route of branching out so that the final product might be a little diluted. Unlike the Law & Order franchise, each version of CSI has attempted to take on a unique look and style to reflect the location without giving up those elements which are the tradition of the series. CSI: Miami is by far the inferior of these three shows. In trying to create a slick glitzy Miami feel, the show has gone the way of style over substance. While the oversaturated colors and bright locations might make for a more visually stunning series, it tends here to overshadow the meat and potatoes of CSI, the stories. I get the impression that the show wants badly to recreate the Miami Vice accomplishment of trend setting fashion and style. Those days are long gone, and CSI has an entirely contrary mission that is weakened weekly by this overboard attempt to look good. The show is also beginning to adopt the 24 style of multi frames for no other reason than they think it looks cool. The show doesn’t respect the audience enough to believe they will buy into the series without all of these high tech distractions. It’s a shame, really, because I had higher hopes for this version of CSI, as I happen to live in Florida. Unfortunately most of CSI: Miami is shot in L.A. with the exception of a few overused establishing shots. Let me tell you, L.A. doesn’t look anything like Miami. Perhaps the show should consider dropping all of the fake glitz and move to location where they can take advantage of the city in a far more realistic way.
The series follows the CSI model set forth in the original Vegas version of the franchise. The lead CSI here is Horatio Caine played by former NYPD Blue actor David Caruso. Caruso left that series because he fancied himself better as a big movie star. Several failed leading roles later he finds himself back playing virtually the same character here. It’s the same Caruso odd speaking pattern, only this time he has a lab coat to go with that gun. Adam Rodriguez plays Caine’s favorite among his lab partners, Delko. He shares a bit of history with Delko. They’ve had a few off the reservation missions together and have bonded somewhat. Delko wants to be just like Caine. Next in the pecking order is Ryan Wolfe, played by Jonathan Togo. Togo is the Greek tragedy character here. It seems that every year this guy is getting the worst of it, from losing his hearing to getting roughed up by the Russian mob. He was a cop and transferred over to the CSI unit in season 2 under Caine’s wing. Emily Procter plays Calleigh. She’s the ballistics expert and all around tough girl with a disarming southern accent. She makes a living by being underestimated. By far the most annoying character is Eva La Rue’s Natalia. Her love lives and former life baggage turn her more often than not into the helpless whimpering damsel in distress. She’s by far the most frustrating character in the entire franchise. If I have to hear her whine one more season… Rex Linn plays the crew’s uniformed cop buddy, Frank Tripp. He’s getting more and more screen time and acts as the audience’s representative on the show. He’s a good tough cop, but the science just goes over his head. New to the 7th season is Megalyn Echikunwoke, please don’t make me spell that last name again, as the new medical examiner on the series, Dr. Tara Price. She’s a huge change from the previous pathologist whom I’m sure fans are already missing. She’s got a bit of a ‘tude. She also flirts too much, while Alex always had this almost unnatural respect for the dead.
The 7th season sees a few big storylines develop. It picks up after the season 6 cliffhanger where Caine was shot and left for dead on an airport tarmac. Caine also has to deal with his ex and son in this season. Son Kyle gets a job as a lab assistant at the morgue. The Caine investigation will lead to friction and fractions in the team. As I’ve already mentioned, Wolfe gets the worst of it again. This time he gets mixed up with the Russian mob and gets tuned up pretty badly. We get an encounter with an underground fight club. There’s an episode with a runaway crane that looks like it came right out of Spider-Man 3. Delko gets grabbed up by immigration and makes some startling discoveries about his parents. The ordeal will also call any evidence he’s collected into question. You know how Caine feels when the lab’s integrity is questioned. The show focuses far too much on the characters and their past lives catching up with them. It’s like pretty much everybody is heading into trouble this season. I’m thinking that the show might want to consider a daily noon to one slot in the future.
Each episode of CSI Miami 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. The overall look leads to a bit too much of a sterile feel. Like the plethora of models who strut their stuff on the show this year, there isn’t a blemish to be found. Black levels are rock solid. Flesh tones are a bit too bright, but this is apparently an intended effect.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is as sharp as the picture. All of the dialog comes through just fine. The musical montage moments always sport a dynamic range of sound from lows to highs; there is excellent production value all the way around.
The 25 episodes are spread out over a collection of 7 single-sided discs.
The Miami Sound Machine: (30:02) No, you won’t find Gloria Estefan anywhere on this feature. It’s just a clever title for a very in depth look at the sound design of the show. It’s actually very educational. Everything from music, ADR, foley, to editing gets a lot of detail and attention here. One of the better extras I’ve encountered. This is not fluff. It’s the real deal.
The New A/V Lab: (14:10) Remember that kick butt computer on Minority Report, where they moved their hands and moved items on a giant holographic screen? That’s what the CSI:Miami folks have now. Of course, this is all still, barely, science fiction, so the screen doesn’t really exist. This feature shows off the new technology and how the composite images are created. The cast marvel at how cool it is, but express frustration at acting to nothing. The last 4 minutes look at the new mobile A/V Hummer.
CSI:Miami – Heating Up Season 7: (21:35) The cast mostly talk about their favorite episodes and moments in this retrospective of the season.
The production and style of the show remain true to the excellent quality that was established with the original almost a decade ago. Still, the series is too flashy and plays more like a soap opera than the other two do. It’s certainly tight, but I have to say I still regard it as the weakest of the three shows in the franchise. The others keep getting better and better, while this one just gets louder and wilder. It most likely ranks highest with the MTV music video generation. Disagree if you will, but one of them has to rank last. “I don’t like it any more than you do.”