CSI – It Doesn't Suck

Did you ever see that movie, Arthur, with Dudley Moore? Someone asked him what it’s like to be so rich, and he replied with great irony, “It doesn’t suck.”

My family uses that phrase quite often as an expression of satisfaction. When we like something a lot, we say “it doesn’t suck.” That about sums it up for CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The first and still the most entertaining of the in-depth forensic investigation shows, CSI boasts solid performances, a likable cast, and engaging stories.

Side note: it’s much less annoying than CSI: Miami. How can CBS continue to subject the viewing public to David Caruso’s bizarre line delivery? Every sentence transforms into a question on the way out of his mouth. “Well, they’re not going to be partying anymore now, ARE THEY?” he says as Horatio Caine. Miami has a good cast that performs well (with that notable exception), and interesting plots, but the irritation factor alone causes my television to change its own channel.

In a recent episode of the first CSI, the officers investigated three cases. One drive-by shooting, a small, emaciated boy found dead in a plastic container in the trash, and a man assaulted during a riot at a holding cell.

The original team lost its unity this season, as several plot points caused a shift in personnel. Gil Grissom’s (William L. Petersen) nemesis and head of the day shift, Ecklie, got promoted to head of the department. Ecklie, in turn, promoted Catherine Willows, played by Marg Helgenberger, to head of the swing shift and moved Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) and Nick Stokes (George Eads) to her shift. Ecklie then demoted his former right hand, Olivia to the night shift with Grissom, Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) and Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda).

With this shift, romantic tension seen between Catherine and Warrick should escalate, but that probably won’t happen until next year given the hermit crab’s pace this show uses to show character development among the CSIs.

The new teams took different assignments, but it didn’t proceed differently than normal. (Thus, why the change, but we’ll have to wait to find out.) Catherine’s team pulled the assault. Grissom’s team took the drive-by shooting and the boy in the trash who starved to death. The new cast member, Olivia, recovered the evidence and solved the shooting in short order, leaving the dead boy for her team. Olivia, Greg and Sara processed the evidence from that scene, which led to a soldier on leave and then eventually to a prostitute.

Warrick and Nick on Catherine’s shift solved the holding cell assault with trace evidence from a gun and a boot footprint on the victim’s face.

The gathering and processing of the evidence by the officers remains as much a draw as ever. Watching the various lab procedures provides most of the entertainment. Still, the show contains one very large flaw. (Other than the anomaly of allowing crime scene investigators to conduct interrogations and be primary through the door in a raid.) Some of the scenes need to end about one line of dialogue before the actual cut.

For example, when Sara and the Medical Examiner talked about the boy who starved to death, the ME said, “I have to say, this seems especially cruel and unusual.” To which Sara replied, “When it comes to kids, it usually is.” Dun dun duh! Melodrama and cliché all wrapped into one.

But wait, that’s not all. At the close of the episode, after Nick and Warrick have followed the evidence to the perpetrator of the stomping, the CSI’s laid the evidence out for the suspect and his lawyer. The lawyer said, “Can we have some time?” Warrick said, “How about twenty-five to life?” What a way with words. Almost as good as Schwarzenegger’s gift of gab.

CSI, still good, needs better editing.

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