The 8th season of CSI: New York begins with the strongest and most emotional CSI episode ever. The show flashes back to what the team members were doing during the 9/11 attacks. It’s very tastefully done. They never actually show the planes hitting the buildings, but they do show the disaster as it unfolds on the streets of New York. We get to see Mac spending what will be the final moments with his wife, who was killed during the attacks. We always knew that these people were likely working that day. Now we get to see what they were doing and understand the impact it must have had on their lives.
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 behavioral 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 who most often works with the team.
After the 9/11 episode we return to the standard storytelling of the series. There are some big changes. Danny ends up getting promoted to sergeant. But that takes him off the CSI team and back in uniform. It doesn’t help that he ends up having an affair with his first partner. It all brings his relationship with Lindsay as one of the forefront stories of the year.
Sid usually doesn’t get a lot to do, but this season he sells a pillow patent for 27 million dollars, and the money will struggle to change him. Adam gets more work to do this season. He gets out of the lab, and his video game skills help the team to close a case this season. Mac gets a new love interest.
It’s a season of family and ends with Mac getting shot. It might just be one of the best seasons of the series so far. It certainly demonstrates why this spinoff survived while the Miami one did not.
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. 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 intended. The occasional ambient sound catches your attention in the rears, but not often enough to give me that extra WOW feeling.
Honoring Our Heroes: (10:43) A look behind the scenes of the show’s 9/11 tribute.
A New York Halloween: (7:28) Of course, there’s a creepy Halloween episode with old cemeteries and an underground crypt. Take a look behind the scenes of that episode.
Flash To The Past: (10:30) Another episode takes us back to 1957 and guest stars Lee Majors. Here’s a closer look at that special episode.
The Magic 8: (22:44) This is the standard season summary.
Gag Reel: (3:36)
It’s almost as if these guys believed they were not going to continue after this year. There’s a greater sense of closure here than on Miami. Even in the extras they talk like they might be ending. Fortunately, that’s not the way it went. It’s all here to get you ready for another new season. “That, ladies and gentlemen, is what’s known as the ripper effect.”