Friday, November 23, 2007
Written by Senora Bicho
CSI is currently in its Eighth Season and shows no signs of slowing down. The show and characters continue to mature and improve. The Seventh Season was extremely well done and is one of the best in its history.
Anthony E. Zuiker created CSI at the request of Jerry Bruckheimer who was looking for an idea for a television show. Based on a suggestion from his wife, Zuiker pursued the idea of a forensic crime show and the rest is history. CSI follows a Las Vegas crime scene investigative team headed up by Dr. Gil Grissom (William Petersen) that uses science to capture the bad guys. One thing that sets CSI apart from other crime dramas is its look and feel. Fundamentally, it is a well-written show with thought-out cases and interesting characters but being set in Las Vegas adds another layer to the show. The writers fully exploit the aspects of the city. For example, in the season premiere one of the murders occurs in one of the Cirque Du Soleil theaters. They also visit casinos, hotels, and brothels.
The colors of the city also come to life and play off of the inherent darkness of the show. Perhaps my love of Vegas enhances my love of the show but the amazing shots of The Strip really helps to set the stage for the terrible things that happen in every episode. The first time I watched CSI in high definition on a big screen I was memorized. The picture looks incredible; this is one show that really benefits from HD and I couldn’t imagine watching it any other way. There is also an intentional use of color for different scenes to set the mood, for example there is a blue hue in the lab and in the morgue that creates a creepy atmosphere. The special effects are also top notch, especially their signature visual explanations of fatal wounds. In addition to the great look of the show, the sounds are equally good. I have discovered a lot of terrific songs thanks to the show and the score selected always matches the tone of the scene perfectly.
Season Seven continues the formula that makes CSI so successful while adding in some new ideas. For the first time in the shows history, there is a season long arc. In the season opener, we are introduced to the miniature killer and the hunt continues until the finale. While the show is extremely dark and intense, there are also moments of light and fun. “Toe Tags” is one of my favorite episodes of the season and it really highlights the cleverness of the show. It tells the tales of four crimes all from the eyes of the murdered people while they sit in the morgue. “Lab Rats (aka While the Cat’s Away)” is another amusing episode where lab technician David Hodges (Wallace Langham) gathers all of the lab techs together to try and solve the miniature killer murders.
A new character is introduced for part of this season. Petersen requested time off to return to the theater, so they needed someone to fill that space. Liev Schreiber was the perfect addition as Mike Keppler, a crime scene investigator from Baltimore. Keppler is an interesting character with an intriguing storyline. He also brought a different dynamic and friction to the group; I was sorry to see him go after only four episodes. There are many other great guest stars in Season Seven including Roger Daltrey (it is very appropriate that he finally makes an appearance since his vocals have covered the opening credits since the debut of the show with The Who’s “Who Are You?”), John Mayer, Ned Betty, Ally Sheedy, Kevin Federline and Danny Bonaduce to name a few.
The crimes are always at the forefront but there are intimate moments with the characters that further their development and continue to form a bond with the viewer. The romance between Grissom and Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) continues and is finally unveiled to the rest of the team. What I like about the show if that they give you a glimmer of the characters personal lives but it doesn’t become like a soap opera. The main characters are never completely free from harm, which makes them vulnerable. In the season opener, Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) is slipped a date-rape drug and ends up naked in a run-down hotel room. Later in the season Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) is brutally attacked by a group of thugs and in the finale Sidle is pinned under a car thanks to the miniature killer.
Numerous commentary tracks are provided in the season collection. Naren Shankar, Executive Producer and Co-Writer, and Ken Fink, Co-Executive Producer and Director, discuss “Built to Kill, Part I”, “Sweet Jane,” and “Living Doll;” Richard Lewis, Director, and Dustin Lee Abraham cover “Fannysmackin;” Martha Coolidge, Director and Matthew Mungle, Make-up Effects Artist, walk through “Living Legend;” Richard Catalani, Writer and Technical Adviser, and Lewis dissect “Law of Gravity;” and Brad Tanenbaum, Director, and Sarah Goldfinder, Writer, along with all of the lab techs chat about “Lab Rats”. All of these commentaries are extremely production heavy and provide the thoughts and ideas behind the scenes and storylines.
The other special features include “Inside ‘Built to Kill’” a making-of featurette that showcases all of the production work that went into shooting in the Cirque Du Soleil theater. “Miniature Murders” discusses the origin and development of the “miniature killer” storyline along with information on the construction of the miniatures, both of which are really interesting. “Who are You? Inside ‘Living Legend’” is about the creative process behind that episode. “Las Vegas: The Real Crime Solvers” is pretty self explanatory, Dr. Albert Robbins (Robert David Hall), the head coroner on the show, visits the real Las Vegas crime lab and talks with the people that work there. It is definitely nowhere near as glamorous as the lab on TV. “The Evolution of CSI: Season 7” talks about how the show has progressed over its history. “Smoke and Mirrors: Directing Feature Television” highlights the directorial efforts behind the series and provides interviews with some of the directors from Season Seven.
CSI is deeper than a simple crime drama and Season Seven raises the bar even higher. It is intricate and smart. There is a lot going on at any one time with characters and storylines that continue to evolve. The writing, directing and acting combine to create something unique. It is hands down the best forensic crime drama on television and sets the standard for all others to try and live up to.