The CSI phenomenon has been going strong for many years now, and CBS has ridden that wave to become the top network these past couple of years. It all started with the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigator. This Las Vegas show became an instant hit, and three years later we found ourselves in Miami for a spin-off. Two years after basking in the Florida sunshine, Jerry Bruckheimer caught lightning a third time; this time out New York would serve as the setting. While there are ties that bind the three shows to the CSI franchise, each show has a unique style. The cases also serve to distinguish the shows from one another. The leads for the three shows likely give the most character to the series. Gary Sinise as Detective Mac Taylor brings a strength that establishes this show’s credibility from episode one. Taylor is ex-military who lost his wife in the 9/11 attacks. He’s incredibly driven and passionate about bringing down the bad guys, but won’t allow his integrity or that of his lab to be compromised. Also, the New York show differs from the original in that the CSI personnel are full fledged cops and not just lab rats working for them. I find I like this version far better than the Miami setting, even though I can relate more to the Florida locations essentially in my own back yard.
The show does share some of the qualities that have become traditional essentials for the CSI franchise. Each opens with a song from The Who. I was bummed to hear that the original selection for New York was Behind Blue Eyes, one of my favorite Townsend compositions. It would have been a far better selection. New York has the same narrative style, which usually allows for an “A” crime and a “B” crime. The mandatory lab montages are intact, as are the CGI recreations of some of the internal body demonstrations. The show, like the others, focuses on the CSI team. Gone this season is Detective Stella Bonasara (Kanakaredes). In her place Sela Ward joins the cast as former FBI Agent Jo Danville. She specializes in the mental aspects of the crime. She’s the team’s answer to a behavior science unit and works closely with Mac. Detective Danny Messer (Giovinazzo) is all New York from the accent to his habits. He’s the kind of tough no nonsense New Yorker from an ethnic Italian hood who, you get a sense, could have just as easily gone the other way in the world of real-life cops and robbers. He’s married to Detective Lindsay Monroe (Belknap), often called Montana, a country girl adjusting to the big city. Messer often looks after her like a sister, and these two have developed another of the show’s good character chemistries together. Now they have a kid and the relationship has taken another step in its evolution. Dr. Hawkes (Harper) started the series as the medical examiner, but now works as a CSI detective. Dr. Sid Hammerback (Joy) took over the medical examiner duties when Hawkes left. He’s a thorough doctor who is always looking that one step farther than usual and often discovers what another medical examiner might have missed. Detective Don Flack (Cahill) is the beat detective that most often works with the team.
The 7th season of CSI: New York has a few major threads to examine. Mac is getting used to working with Danville and there is likely a romantic interest developing there. Danny wants to make Sergeant. Of course, the relationship between him and Lindsay is a huge story this year with her pregnancy and eventual motherhood. Huge guest stars include Edward James Olmos as a cop that was once Mac’s mentor. John Larroquette has a great three-episode run as the Chief who ends up in a bit of trouble. It’s a tough case for Mac and Larroquette shows why he’s had so much success in his career. It’s one of the better story arcs and characters the series has enjoyed. Other guests include Helen Slater, Ron Glass, and Adrienne Barbeau.
Each episode of CSI New York is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is awesome. The picture is always razor sharp, and color often leaps directly from the screen. The makeup f/x for victims, as always, been a mainstay for the franchise, and the detail is not wasted in this presentation. With this HD mastering you can see even the most subtle of each and every wound or gash. Contrast is excellent, as are black levels. This non-HD DVD set comes pretty close to the HD broadcasts currently airing. With this level of detail, I’d love to see an HD release of this show just to see if it can be improved at all.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track works fine, but this show doesn’t often lend itself to the full surround effect. There’s a ton of dialog, which comes across clean and properly placed. The music drives a little too hard at times, but it’s obviously the intended. The occasional ambient sound catches your attention in the rears, but not often enough to give me that extra WOW feeling.
7th Deadly Season: (22:23) This one provides the year’s highlights.
New In Town – Jo Danville: (11:51) An introduction/profile of the new character.
Under The Microscope: These are short episode-specific features found throughout the release.
You can’t say the show hasn’t evolved. Up until this season this version of the franchise had been the most stable, going longer than the others without cast changes. I have to say that while the new character takes some getting used to and I really liked Melina Kanakaredes a lot, I think Sela Ward will do just fine. Nothing in any of the three shows this season has changed my mind that this one is taking the lead and hanging on to it. This was the best of the three for at least the second season in a row. If you haven’t yet given it a try, what are you waiting for? This thing is nothing short of “22 rollercoaster rides of suspense and mystery”.