Review: CSI/CSI:Miami/CSI:NY crossover

A wasted opportunity

CSI crossover

In the US: Monday 9th, Wednesday 11th, Thursday 12th November 2009, CBS
In the UK: Five, 2010

So this week has been ratings stunt week over in the US, thanks to it being sweeps time, and CSI, CSI:Miami and CSI: NY have pulled off the biggest sweeps stunt of all the shows: they’ve had a crossover story involving all three shows. Laurence Fishburne went first to Miami, then to New York before returning to Vegas on the trail of missing women.

This wasn’t, of course, the first time there’s been a CSI crossover. CSI: Miami was launched in a second season episode of CSI; CSI: NY was launched in an episode of CSI: Miami. There’s also been a CSI:Miami/CSI:NY crossover stunt and a CSI/Without A Trace crossover.

So after the jump, my thoughts on how this compared with previous crossovers, whether this was merely a stunt or whether there was a decent story, and which show had the most merit. Spoilers ahoy.

On the whole, this struck me as a slightly ridiculous crossover. The plot involved a gang that abducts women and ships them around the US in trucks, for use as prostitutes, organ donors, sex slaves, etc. It’s just about plausible that this network would link New York, Miami and Las Vegas, but not that it wouldn’t involve any other cities along the way. Less likely was that Laurence Fishburne, junior CSI in Vegas, would be the one getting helicoptered from city to city, chasing down lost girls. You could get Catherine Willows to travel coach class at most, maybe, but helicopters for our Larry? Nope.

CSI: Miami
The starting off point for this whole escapade was CSI: Miami. Here Larry hung out with David Caruso. Now, I ditched CSI: Miami from my viewing schedule a few weeks ago, after having watched every episode until then. Even so, boy have their been changes. Eric’s gone – Calleigh didn’t seem too cut up about this. He’s been replaced by the guy who joined Eleventh Hour midway through its run as a fat (I’m not being sizeist – they made jokes about it all the time), slightly thick FBI agent who needed everything explained to him while yucking it up. Here, he plays a fat (I’m not being sizeist – they made jokes about it all the time), slightly thick CSI who needs everything explained to him while yucking it up

I also seem to have lost the immunity I’d built up to the show over the years, because boy this was appalling. I’d hoped that Larry would have made DC raise his game, but if anything, Caruso brought our Larry down to his level. Obviously, no one could quite get there without some form of obscure surgery to assist, but our Larry was definitely not putting the same effort in that he does normally. This might be so that he didn’t shame everyone else (cf Tim Roth in Lie To Me), of course.

Anyway, the whole thing was standard CSI: Miami. Magical science, magical guesses (“This man has sand and salt on his trousers. It’s very high concentration salt. It’s also a bit radioactive. I’m thinking… the Nevada desert salt flats where they did nuclear testing!”), David Caruso standing at odd angles, accusing everyone in sight of crimes, before they mysteriously reveal their depraved natures, and ridiculous over the top moments. Most ridiculous: a celebrity butcher/chef/restauranteur with links to a gang (played by that bloke of Prison Break), and Louis Mandalyor as a pimp/fashion guy with links to gangs who goes around hacking people up on demand.

In contrast to the aforementioned CSI:Miami/CSI:NY crossover, our Larry did get a decent amount of screentime. He got to share scenes with both Emily Procter and David Caruso, and he drove the narrative. There was an attempt to remember continuity, but unfortunately it just made our Horatio look like a tit: sorry, but you send your condolences to Catherine about Warwick’s death somewhat closer to the time, rather than a year late.

I also got a little confused. We had two dead girls. I understood their issues. But then there was another girl who they thought might have been responsible for the killings, but she wasn’t. She was with some skanky guy. The police let them go, but then it turns out he’s abducting her? And then our Larry suddenly gets obsessed with helping her by CSI: NY time? Why? What?

Rating: 1/5

So now we head off to New York to follow up on innocent girl (who they arrested for credit card theft), who may have been in a truck after having been abducted from a rest stop in Orlando, skank guy getting killed in the process. Truck has an accident. Mac and co get called in.

Of the three episodes, this was probably the most interesting. I’m almost tempted to start watching CSI: NY again in fact. But it wasn’t awesome.

This at least had a proper actor in the lead role (Gary Sinise), Larry helping out a little bit less this time. It mainly revolved around the hunt for the trucker, and had a pleasing amount of running around, and people getting shot it. There was an attempt to have the CSIs be more than just cardboard cutouts (unlike CSI: Miami), by involving just about all their back stories (bar Greek woman’s for once, and as is traditional, Mac’s marine background got a mention). This actually worked, with Sinise and Hill Harper coming out this best. But I’m worried that our Larry is developing a bit of a dad fixation though, because he seems to be bringing him up every episode now.

As we know, CSI: NY occupies the middle ground in terms of plausibility between CSI: Miami (ridiculous) and CSI (pretty good), and there was a fair old amount of sci-fi forensic science on display. But on the whole, this was reasonable quality stuff, right up until the moment Larry gets on a dirt bike with a shotgun and starts driving around the place after crims. Oh yes, and when they let some old guy get a liver transplant from a dead girl they’ve found.

The trucker gets caught by the end, but innocent girl, by some bizarre miraculous event, has been handed off to another trucker heading back to… you guessed it, Las Vegas

Rating: 4/5

Normally, you can rely on CSI to be the bravest, smartest and realistic of all the shows. But here, it all just seemed a little bit silly and inconsequential. For most of the ep, you’d be forgiven for wondering how it related in any way to the previous two episodes. It was bleak and dark and nasty, showing a lot of women being very badly treated in the sex industry of Las Vegas. But it didn’t really dwell enough on it to make this horror anything more than a footnote to finding the missing girl.

And so it plodded along, with our Larry questing along for the girl – apparently, they’ve had a tip-off that she’s on her way to Vegas – and discovering that some Russian literature professor who really didn’t understand Nabakov was also a pimp and gang member who might be able to help the FBI and Homeland Security. Plausible? Of course not.

But it’s still more plausible than the idea that lesser gang members were trying to turn a TV weather girl into a hooker, or that Russian pimp professor guy would hand over a large wodge of cash for the missing girl then simply turn her out on the street. We’re competing for CSI: Miami levels of daftness but without the crassness, here.

In the end, thanks to a lot of text messages, our Larry is able to find missing girl and reunite her with her mom. Ah, a happy and utterly implausible ending to a bleak show. How unlikely.

Most of the rest of the cast failed to get a look in, and none of the Miami or NY crew got to appear on the mothership at all, except by sending text messages to our Larry. Actual dialogue? No thank you. Who says the producers of CSI look down on the rest of the franchise? And where was Sara, BTW?

Rating: 2/5

On the whole, there didn’t really seem to be a need for our Larry to go from city to city like that. All the CSIs in the respective cities could have done the investigation without him, since he didn’t really add much to the mix. Attaching the whole story to tracking down one girl made what could have been a terrible situation seem less than it was, when you could have the CSIs properly busting up major gangs in each town. The return to Vegas at the end was implausible, and the major league gang really wasn’t touched or even investigated properly.

So, I’d say that while some of it had its merit (mostly that in CSI: NY), this was unfortunately a stunt rather than a decent, well developed crossover, unfortunately. Nice to see the different parts of the franchise mixing it up together – and for CSI to be in the mix for a change – but not as good as previous crossovers and it could have been a whole lot more, given a chance.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

    View all posts