Quality film news, reviews and features
21st November 2005 00:00:00
Posted by Eamonn McCusker

CSI: New York - The First Season

DVD Video Review

It's time to talk once more about Horatio Caine. Although I only do so because of the presence of Horatio (David Caruso) within this boxset. As CSI: Crime Scene Investigation begat CSI: Miami in the crossover episode Cross-Jurisdictions, so CSI: New York jumped out of a CSI: Miami episode, Miami/NYC Nonstop, in which Caine travelled to New York in pursuit of a man thought responsible for a double murder. In doing so, this one episode, which is missing from the Region 2 CSI: New York set that was released some weeks back, reveals much about the setting and the production of each series in the CSI franchise. In CSI: Miami, Caine looks fine, not terribly old and flattered by the bright sunlight of the southern state. In New York, though, Caine appears tired and looks as though he's aged years in the short flight from Miami to JFK. His hair is, well, unremarkable and despite there being a minute or two in which he appears to have carried the Floridian glow with him - I wasn't sure that you could so easily bring the colour of a place with you, although it might explain why Londoners always look to be trapped, miserably, in something like a dirty, brown haze - that soon dissipates within the dark blue gloom of New York. Indeed, so curious is his appearance that he actually looks to have been digitally edited in to the scene in the manner of a hologram from the Star Wars films, albeit with a bright orange hue instead of blue.

And yet it's not this curious look that Caine brings with him from Miami that's most odd about Miami/NYC Nonstop, more the arrogance of the man. As the most senior member of the CSI team in Miami, one might have thought that a simple telephone call to New York would have been in order to alert them to his coming. But no, for Horatio who not only decides on a whim to fly to New York but doesn't even make the local CSI office his first call. Instead, he just shows up at the last known residence of his suspect to make the arrest his own. All of this is based on nothing but a promise from Horatio to the daughter of the murdered couple. Giving him more time than he clearly deserves, Mac actually listens as Horatio demands jurisdiction based, again, on this promise and that Miami has executed convicted murderers in recent years whilst New York has not. The whole thing is just so ludicrous that you wish for Mac to throw him out on the street rather than listen to any more of Caine's verbal strutting but, as an episode, it works so well, simply to remind you of how much better this show is than CSI: Miami.

You'll be glad, though, should you have this set, that Caine fails to make an appearance in during any of other twenty-three episodes that have been included. What you're left with is a show that begins very much like what we've come to expect from a CSI spinoff but which eventually drifts closer to a classic cop/crime drama. Whilst it may have been hinted at in my review of the Region 2 Season 1 Part 1 boxset, it's only been in watching the entire season again with this Region 1 release and I can state how great a show this is. As the season passes the halfway mark with Recycling, there's the feeling that the actors are beginning to feel more at home with their characters and the first signs of this actually being a drama begin to flicker into life. At first, there are only occasional mentions of a life outside of the CSI lab - Danny talks about an early flirtation with crime and the Tanglewood Boys gang before joining the police - but, later, there are some lovely moments between the cast that will be a real surprise to anyone who's used to the emotionless forensics of CSI. Highlights between Danny and Aiden are their laughing incredulously at the Robospanker during their investigation of New York's fetish scene that hints at some sexual tension between the two, which is later snuffed out when she tells him that she's way out of his league. There's conflict between Danny and Mac, particularly when the former pursues an investigation against Mac's orders. Flack is forced to confront and to bring down his mentor in The Fall whilst police corruption throughout the force is examined in The Dove Commission.

But it's Gary Sinise as Mac Taylor who makes the show what it is and he shows, particularly as the season nears its end, that he's capable of doubting his own evidence, that he's still in mourning over the loss of his wife and that he's troubled sometimes by what he's called upon to do. Grissom in Las Vegas may occasionally have been asked to review his evidence in court but he never did it with such a sense of duty as Mac does in The Closer. We're also shown how Mac has to manage his team, including two Internal Affairs investigations against detectives Stella and Danny. What's particularly impressive is that this came at the same time as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation unsatisfactorily muddled a way out of Ecklie breaking up Grissom's team in its last season. Indeed, CSI: New York promises to get even better as early in Season Two, Mac is forced to fire one of his detectives, which will be a first for CSI. Best of all, though, are the rather touching conversations between Stella and Mac about the death of Mac's wife and how he's finding it difficult to move on. There's never been a moment in CSI as tender as Stella asking Mac, in The Closer, why he still wears his wedding ring but, equally, there's never been a happier, more satisfying moment than when Mac arrives at a bard to meet Rose Whitley (Penelope Ann Miller) for a drink.

Having already made these points in the review of Season 1 Part 1 boxset, it feels odd coming back to them, almost that I'm repeating what's already been said. Watching the full season, though, is such an enjoyable way to come to CSI: New York that it was almost like picking up the first viewing of the show once again. And, I suspect, I've made the point more times than enough - this bounces CSI: Miami out of one's memory, which is all the better for that, and, personally, even betters CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. William Petersen may not have been happy at seeing David Caruso lead a spinoff to his show - he's famously not interested in either of the later two CSI shows - but his discomfort must surely be noticeable to all at seeing the ease with which Gary Sinise has made CSI: New York come together.



Episode Guide

This episode guide brings over the first twelve episode reviews from the Season 1 Part 1 article that was recently posted come the release of that set in the UK. These have, however, been expanded upon with episode reviews for the remainder of the season.

Miami/NYC Nonstop (44m38s): Leaving a party to return home, a teenage girl finds that her mother and father have been murdered but before he begins his investigation, Horatio Caine promises her that he will personally bring their killer to justice. As he finds, though, this requires a trip north when he tracks a suspect to New York, meeting Detective Mac Taylor at the crime scene. As Caine discovers, though, his suspect was not only an undercover cop but has been dead for seventy-two hours and, together, he and Mac's CSI team track down the real killer, who then used the cop's ID to fly down to Miami to commit the double murder.

Blink (41m42s): In a story that owes much to Mark Billington's Sleepyhead, the CSI team investigate a serial killer who imprisons his victims within their own bodies - their minds remain active but their bodies do not respond to stimuli. Mac investigates and believes that he has a suspect, identified by one of the victims who appears able to communicate via blinking. Stella, however, is unconvinced.

Creatures of the Night (41m38s): At a society gathering near Central Park, a woman, who is bloodied and bruised, staggers out of the park and apologises to her father, who is in the crowd, for being late. It appears that she was raped whilst walking through the park but despite there being much evidence in the park, Stella and Danny find it hard to present a convincing case. Elsewhere, Aidan and Mac are investigating the death of a drug-dealer but, like their colleagues, have trouble making a cause due to a missing bullet. But when Mac sees that rats are living nearby and that there are bites on the victim's body, he wonders if a rat have eaten the evidence.

American Dreamers (42m29s): As an open-topped bus drives through Times Square, a young couple ask a man to take their picture but are horrified to find that it is only a skeleton that has been dressed and placed on the bus. Mac initially suspects that the skeleton is only a student prank but when Hawkes finds that the skeleton is of a young boy who died of a blow to the head, he urges the CSI team to investigate the disappearance of any boys in 1987, which leads him and Danny to those who live rough in subways and bus stations.

Grand Master (41m18sm): Mac reluctantly enters the world of hip-hop when an up-and-coming DJ is found stabbed to death following his success in a DJ'ing contest and his recent signing to a major label. All that exists to link the suspect to the murder is a voicemail message of some scratching that Mac asks Aidan to interpret. Meanwhile, Stella and Danny investigate the death of a fashion designer whose body was found in the swimming pool in her apartment, which leads to a seafood restaurant that specialises in serving food on the bodies of nude young women.

A Man a Mile (40m48s): During the construction of Water Tunnel No. 3, a man is found to have died during a planned underground explosion. As Mac and Danny investigate, they come under pressure from the mayor's office who are keen on there not being a delay to the opening of this tunnel but their efforts are complicated by the closed shop run by the construction workers' union. Above ground, Stella and Aidan look into the death of a young college student at a prestigious girls school who was found strangled and abandoned in a creek.

Outside Man (44m11s): Following a series of shootings at a restaurant, where the victims had plastic bags put over their heads before being shot, Mac offers Danny a chance at promotion and asks him to lead the investigation. As he and Aidan progress on the case, it leads them to believe that one or more of the employees may have been involved in setting up the shooting but they can't point to who. Meanwhile, Mac and Danny learn of a subculture obsessed with the amputation of limbs and of amputees when they investigate the death of a man and the discovery of his left lower leg.

Rain (41m58s): "It's Chinatown, Mac!" So says Stella when she and Mac are called to investigate the robbery of a bank that ended with the death of a security guard and two of the robbers, who were burned alive. But the discovery of a charm leads Stella to uncover a kidnapping plot involving the manager of the bank, which leads the CSI team to ask whether the robbery was connected to the kidnapping.

Three Generations are Enough (42m42s): CSI enter the world of day trading when an abandoned briefcase on a trading floor causes panic and a bomb alert. As Mac investigates the contents of the briefcase after determining that it is not a bomb, he and Danny find that it belonged to a broker who was looking into illegal trades being conducted by a number of other parties and who disappeared two nights before the discovery of the briefcase. Elsewhere, Flack and Stella talk catechism when the body of a pregnant woman is found near to a church.

Officer Blue (43m34s): When a NYPD mounted officer is shot whilst on his horse, Mac finds that the only evidence that still exists is a shard of bullet that is lodged in the horse, which is still alive. Convinced that the shot came from a sniper, Mac must decide whether it is better to save the animal or to have the horse put down in order to extract the evidence. Elsewhere in New York, Aidan looks into the death and burning of a kid in an alleyway, which leads her to an Italian restaurant and a possible link to the Mafia.

Night, Mother (41m51s): When the CSI team are required to investigate a murder, the obvious suspect is the woman who was found at the scene with the blood of the victim all over her hands and body but as she is revealed to be a parasomniac - a blanket term that includes any sleep disorder, such as sleepwalking, night terrors, rhythmic movements and sleep talking - Mac is not convinced about her guilt. Danny and Aidan are busy elsewhere in New York, investigating the death of a professional pickpocket who was found beaten to death.

Tri-Borough (41m31s): Following Aidan's earlier investigation involving the Mafia, Danny must now become involved with a case that flirts with the Mob as he looks into the murder of an art gallery owner whose final sale may have been that of a forgery to someone with a reputation to uphold. Meanwhile, Aidan and Mac and Stella are spread over two other boroughs in New York with the death of a worker on a construction site and the discovery of a body on the live rail on the subway. As Mac discovers, with the help of Hawkes, the electrical burns on the victim were applied post-mortem meaning the murder occurred elsewhere with the body being moved after the fact. From where, though, is what Mac and Stella must find out.

Recycling (41m35s): That there is no love lost between New Yorkers and bicycle couriers is evident when Stella and Danny investigate the death of one and find that few of the witnesses care to stick around. Their work is made more difficult when they realise that the courier may have been stabbed at any point along his route, which covers almost five miles. Meanwhile, Mac and Aidan find out what some dog owners are prepared to do to become best in show when a trainer is murdered at a dog show but, again, find that few of the owners take their work seriously when Mac's cold demeanour leaves a few of the dogs feeling upset.

Tanglewood (44m12s): Snow has settled on New York and after the discovery of a body in a park - a young man who was beaten and left to die - Mac and Stella begin their investigation, which leads them back to another murder earlier in the evening and to a gang of Mafia kids known as the Tanglewood Boys. Given the reputation of their parents, these guys think they're above the law but Mac is about to let them into a fact of the New York criminal justice system...they're not. Danny, though, finds that his past comes back to haunt him when it's revealed that, before he joined the police, he was close to being a member of the gang. He's busy on another case, though, with Aidan, looking into the death of a woman in a hit-and-run. When they find sperm on her clothing, their search leads back to a massage parlour and that the victim liked it rough. But rough enough to die?

Blood, Sweat & Tears (41m37s): A small box is dug up on the beach at Coney Island and it's found to contain the body of a young trapeze artist, which leads Mac and Stella to the circus where he worked. There, they find that love on the high wire makes for trouble. Elsewhere, Danny and Flack check out the discovery of a body left bleeding in an apartment, suspecting that the murderer is the abusive husband of the dead woman's ex-flatmate but when he can account for his whereabouts on the night, they struggle to close the case.

'Til Death Do We Part (43m36s): This episode opens with the marriage of Hannah Bloom but before she can make her vows, she passes out and dies at the altar. Mac and Danny begin an investigation but find that they are hampered by Hannah's father refusing to release the body until it is blessed by a rabbi, which, in itself, causes problems as any evidence may be corrupted should the rabbi be delayed. Meanwhile, Stella, Flack and Aiden investigate the discovery of a hand and an abandoned monastery that is reputed to be haunted. Flack, always superstitious about such things, lets the ladies enter the building first, who jump to a conclusion about the crime but are left baffled when the prime suspect, who actually confesses to the crime, couldn't possibly have committed it.

Hush (43m25s): The discovery of the naked body of Debbie Bogda on the expressway leads Aidan and Danny to investigate the world of bondage and extreme sexual role play. These, they find, played a crucial part in her death, particularly when they discover that she was strapped to the front of a truck and driven at speed on the expressway. Over at the docks, Mac and Stella look into the murder of Paddy Dolan, a longshoreman, whose body was crushed between two shipping containers. Although it looks like an industrial accident, at first, Hawke confirms that Dolan was murdered prior to being crushed but Mac and Stella are confronted by a wall of silence presented to them by the dockworkers. But then another body turns up, this one inside a shipping container and Mac begins to apply a little pressure back.

The Fall (41m27s): Personal loyalties are called into question when Mac, Stella and Flack investigate the murder of an alcohol store owner but find that the first officer on the scene, who was a mentor of Flack's when he was a beat cop, may have deliberately contaminated the evidence. Meanwhile a movie producer is found dead on the balcony of his apartment, within which was a party attended by plenty of people who would be happy to see him dead. Despite that, was it really murder and does the answer to the puzzle sit with the sweet wrappers scattered about the balcony?

The Dove Commission (40m13s): When a number of prominent policemen and the chief investigator of a report detailing corruption within the NYPD are gunned down at a party the day before the report is published, Mac assumes that information in the report will lead him to the murderer but, given the nature of the document, he has a tough time getting a copy. When he does, the claims that it makes are so wide-ranging that it will take months to narrow down the list of suspects but then the forensic evidence suggests the use of a unique murder weapon and the investigation becomes a little clearer. Elsewhere, Danny and Aiden investigate the death of a gypsy cab driver but their work is hampered by Danny's prejudices against gypsy's despite the evidence pointing to the cab driver as being a decent and honest man.

Crime and Misdemeanor (40m49s): The dead body of a young woman, dressed only in her underwear and wrapped in bed linen, is found at a laundry facility and this leads to Mac and Stella investigating who was staying at a hotel used by diplomats attending sessions at the UN. Their fear is that the murderer will use their diplomatic immunity to escape prosecution but that's not how things work out. Danny and Aiden, meanwhile, look into the death of a homeless man dressed as a human statue but despite Mac urging him to close the case, Danny refuses, which puts him in disagreement with his boss. And, as we discover, this is not the last time the two will argue over the direction of a case.

Supply and Demand (40m55s): Time is short when Mac investigate the death of a college student shot and beaten to death in their apartment over what looks to be a drugs deal that went wrong. The drugs in question appear to be pure and uncut heroin and as the bodies begin to pile up, Mac begins to put pressure on the suspect's family to cooperate. But, when a civilian complaint is made against Stella - her fourth in three years - her career is put at risk, particularly when Internal Affairs begin an investigation against her.

On the Job (42m48s): Whilst investigating a crime scene alongside Mac, Danny is attacked by a suspect who had been hiding in the victim's wardrobe. Giving chase, Danny tracks him to a subway station where Danny, the suspect and an undercover cop get involved in a shootout. When the police arrive, they find the suspect gone and the undercover cop dead, which leads to Internal Affairs investigating Danny. As well as the original crime scene, Mac now orders his team to the subway station to save Danny's job.

The Closer (40m37s): It looks like a rough day at the baseball ground when a Boston Red Sox fan is found dead after a loss to New York on the same day as a sports agent is run down by a truck after attending the game. Meanwhile, Mac reopens an old murder investigation when Quinn Sullivan (Michael Clarke Duncan), who was convicted of the crime, telephones him to question his evidence and, again, swears to his innocence. Will Mac trust his instincts in the evidence or will he do what he believes to be right, questioning his own testimony in pursuit of the truth. Stella tells him that Sullivan is guilty and to leave the case alone but Mac isn't so sure.

What You See Is What You See (40m08s): When Mac stops in for a coffee at a local diner, he witnesses a shootout, which leaves one man dead and a waitress injured, who Mac stays with rather than chase the gunman. As Mac investigates, he is troubled by another diner (Penelope Ann Miller) who, believing that Mac saved her life, asks him out for a drink. But Mac, despite Stella urging him to the contrary, isn't so sure that he's ready for a relationship after his wife's death in the collapse of the World Trade Centre on September 11.



Transfer

This is largely a reprint of the same section in the review of CSI: New York Season 1 Part 1.

The obvious influence on the look of the show is not only the two previous CSI shows - Las Vegas moreso than Miami - but also David Fincher's Seven, particularly the opening of an episode like Rain and the discovery of the dead body in Outside Man. As such, it's vital that the DVD handles the rich colours that we expect of CSI but also dark shadows and both interiors and exteriors. Regular viewers of CSI on DVD will know, then, exactly what to expect of CSI: New York and to not be surprised that its a fine transfer with few faults - colours are good, it flatters the series with a sharp picture and there are few flaws in the image. There isn't very much between the R2 and R1 releases, though, with the latter only being that slight bit sharper.

Similarly, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track is also a tradition with CSI on DVD and this one is as good as any of the previous ones. The surround channels are used infrequently for both dialogue and action but are used much more often for ambient effects and the score. It is, though, a complementary audio track and whilst one never notices anything standing out, as such, there are also no obvious faults with it.

None of the episodes feature subtitles.



Extras

The Cast Examines The Characters (14m39s): Anthony Zuiker and Ann Donahue present this short feature that gives some background to each character as well as allowing the actors to talk about their favourite moments in the show. Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, Carmine Giovinazzo, Vanessa Ferlito, Hill Harper and Eddie Cahill all have a moment in the spotlight, which offers a few of the show's highlights as well as giving a good overview of the characterisation in CSI: New York and why it's vital to the success of the show.

The Science Behind The Scenes (5m59s): Featuring an interview with Anthony Zuiker, Gary Sinise and Vanessa Ferlito, all of whom appear in praise of Bill Haynes, who is the show's technical advisor and who is there on-set to advise the cast on their use of equipment and scientific terms. Sinise and Ferlito appear grateful for the advice offered by Haynes but with brevity of the piece does little but flatter Haynes' input to the show.

CSI: New York - Set Tour (9m05s): Production Designer Carey Meyer, who worked on the second season of CSI: Miami, including the crossover episode Miami/NYC Nonstop, but who later transferred to this show, introduces this feature and walks us through the sets used on the show, including the CSI lab and the Autopsy room. It's not terribly interesting but a tour of the lab is a common feature of these CSI DVDs and this is no different.

The World's Largest Crime Scene (8m50s): This is a short introduction to CSI: New York and briefly describes how Anthony E. Zuiker, Ann Donahue and Carol Mendelsohn went about creating the show via trips to the city. It even features an interview with Jerry Bruckheimer, which is something of a rarity for CSI boxsets, and whilst it won't offer any new information to someone who's enough of a fan of the show to have bought this set, it's not bad.

The Zoo Year (9m27s): Animals in CSI? This short feature looks at the use of animals in CSI: New York - a horse in Officer Blue, rats in Creatures Of The Night, an elephant in Blood, Sweat And Tears and dogs in Recycling - and how they presented new challenges to a production team unused to them.

Audio Commentaries: There are seven audio commentaries spread over the twelve episodes included in this set - Miami/NYC Nonstop (Ann Donahue), Blink, Officer Blue and Tanglewood (Anthony Zuiker), Creatures of the Night (Pam Veasey), Outside Man (Timothy Lea) and Recycling (Lea and Zachary Reiter) - but of those, only those contributed by Zuiker and Donahue can be considered a necessity. What makes their commentaries stand out are that they are much less specific about each episode, preferring to talk about their overall vision for the show and how it differs from those set in Las Vegas and Miami. There are, though, plenty of gaps in their commentaries, which says that none of them should be considered essential.

All of these features are subtitled but only in Spanish with none of them featuring English subtitles.



Overall

Looking back, though, on my review of the Region 2 boxset (Season 1 Part 1), a nine was being over generous. Some of you may have felt that it wasn't so much a case of over-egging the pudding as trying to cram an entire henhouse full of clucking hens into the bowl in which it was being mixed and I concede the point. A nine was being too kind and it is, therefore, probably worth noting that I've gone back through all the past CSI reviews and have taken a point off each, reducing CSI: Miami to a five, which is probably a more reasonable assessment of its merits, or lack thereof.

This, though, remains the high point of any of the CSI shows to date with the exception of the very best episodes from the original Las Vegas show, which I've listed so many times elsewhere that I'll refrain from doing so again. To have the entire season in a single boxset with all of the extras listed above for only £29.99 from our sponsor is something of a bargain. All, then, that I need now is for the new year and for Five to begin showing the second season, which promises, with what I've heard so far, to be even better than this.
Details and Specifications
DVD Video Review

Region: 1

Certificate: NR

Distributor:
CBS DVD

Running Time:
1080 mins approx
Soundtracks:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish

Subtitles:
None

Director:
Rob Bailey
Kevin Bray
Danny Cannon
David Grossman
Tim Hunter
Deran Sarafian
Greg Yaitanes
Alex Zakrzewski

Main cast:
Gary Sinise
Melina Kanakaredes
Carmine Giovinazzo
Vanessa Ferlito
Hill Harper
Eddie Cahill
Sonya Walger
-- more --
Ratings
Film
8
Video
8
Audio
8
Extras
6
8