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Review: CSI 9x1

Posted on October 10, 2008 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

CSI

In the US: Thursdays, 9pm ET/PT, CBS
In the UK: Five, Five US, Living, etc, ad infinitum

It seems that just about every time I review an episode of CSI, I make the following points:

  • It's the only smart series in the CSI canon, with CSI:Miami being dumb, conservative propaganda with minimal resemblance to reality and CSI: NY being little more than live action fan fic now
  • It does dark and nuanced well
  • The characters feel like characters rather than plot advancers

And this time's no different. We open, as we have in most previous years, with a big character-related episode. And my, isn't it a tear-jerker?

The episode follows on almost immediately from last season's finale, in which original CSI Warrick Brown gets shot by Las Vegas's corrupt Under Sheriff. He's not quite dead, though, and I won't spoil it for you by revealing whether he dies or not. Suffice it say, the CSIs want to find out whodunnit, although they presume it's a corrupt cop who had tried to frame Brown and who's now gone missing.

If this had been CSI: Miami, everyone would have been sad for a bit, shouted and then everyone would have fired up one of Professor Zharkov's magic prognosticator rays that would have handily revealed the killer's identity - then vaporised him. And then David Caruso might have said something vastly insensitive in a staccato voice.

But this is CSI, where everything's far more thoughtful. Much of the time, it feels like an actual procedural, with cops behaving like cops and CSIs behaving like CSIs, each to the best of their abilities. There are some decent character moments for all concerned, although my favourites are the low-key exchanges between Brass and Grissom that demonstrate both fine acting and writing. Forensics is shown to have limits, there's corruption and subtleties in law enforcement that are explored, there are genuine emotions on display and if you aren't crying at at least one point in the episode, probably because of the quality of William Petersen's excellent acting, you're either new to the show or dead inside. Also coming back to help out is a familiar face, assumed to be long gone, which is a lovely touch - and there's the potential for him/her to be around for a while.

There will be changes coming to the show soon - not all immediately obvious from this episode - so newbies leaping in right now will find themselves all at sea. Old hands will need hankies to deal with all the emotions. But if you aren't watching already, you need to because the show remains one of the smartest on US TV.

Here's a very slightly spoilery YouTube promo, which also contains clips from a couple of forthcoming episodes.

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