For the two or three people on the planet that don’t know, the idea is actually quite a simple one. The CSI 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. Grissom’s mild love interest is feisty Sarah Sidle (Fox). 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 newest member of the team is Dr. Raymond Langston (Fishburne) who came in last season after Grissom left to study bugs in South America. Hodges (Langham) looked up to Grissom and has had to step up his game in the lab since his mentor left. He’s the guy that takes some getting used to and not the most respected in the lab. It’s a tough year for him because lab partner and girlfriend Wendy (Vassey) leaves as the 11th season opens. The team often works with Lt. Brass (Guilfoyle) and medical examiner Robbins (Hall). Together they follow the evidence wherever it might take them.
Things are still changing in this 11th year, and the show has never really had a chance to settle since the departure of Grissom. Katherine is having to go up against the lab brass and Detective Brass this season and feels on the outs more than she feels like a part of the team. We’re also about to lose the new character played by Lawrence Fishburne as he ends the season by killing a serial killer, but it wasn’t a clean shoot. Even with the lab trying to protect him he’s gone, and Ted Danson will replace him in the next season. Sarah is married to Grissom now but is here at the lab instead of in South America with him. It’s an awkward situation for her and for us in the audience. It’s hard for us to get past his exit because they keep talking about him. It’s also never seemed very realistic to me that he could fall for Sarah. She’s about the most aggravating character in the entire franchise.
The season sees some interesting guest stars that range from young teen sensation Justin Bieber to Elliott Gould. The season still features the wonderful set design and stories that has made CSI such a compelling franchise for over a decade. But, there’s just something unsettled about this year and the character chemistry appears to suffer. I don’t feel the family dynamic any longer and find the show doesn’t retain the spark it did 10 years earlier. It’s still worth checking the episodes out, of course, but the show needs to improve next year or these annual releases might just be a luxury we can afford to do without.
With all of that said, there are some rather interesting cases that involve things like a vampire/werewolf clash, murder by dinosaur, homemade electric chairs, hoarders, and a pretty thrilling three-part finale that leads to the end of Fishburne’s run.
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.
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.
Las Vegas Headlines: (22:21) A look at the guest cast for the season.
Something Twisted This Way Comes: (9:21) A tie-in with a novel written by Anthony E. Zuiker that makes you go on-line for a changing experience.
Cold-Blooded Killers: (9:23) One of the best episodes of the season involves the Walking With Dinosaurs stage show. This feature takes you to the dino-stage as the cast and crew shoot among the dinos.
Dita Von Teese Burlesque Performance: (3:50) The entire performance from the episode.
Intelligent Design – Creating Areron’s Legion: (7:06) The gang had to create a video game for an episode.
An Underground Perspective: (7:28) An underground set had to be created quickly when a location fell through. Go behind the scenes as they frantically create the environment.
You know the old saying: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. But it just isn’t bearing out any longer. What started in Vegas is much stronger both in Miami and New York now. The spark hasn’t stayed in Vegas since Grissom left, and the show has struggled to either get rid of his ghost or at least make a clean break. This is too much like that bandage that gets peeled back ever so painfully slowly. Get him back or move on already. Me, I’m hopeful Ted Danson can breathe new life into this show before it’s too late. He’s a force to be reckoned with in every show he’s been on. “That’s true, but this is Vegas.”