Written by Senora Bicho
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation first aired on October 2, 2000 in its first timeslot of 9:00 on Friday nights. In February 2001, CBS moved the show to Thursday nights at 9 while moving another new show, Survivor, from Wednesday to the 8:00 slot. This set up a hugely successful line-up for CBS, ending NBC’s “Must-See TV” dominance. CSI has been solid in the ratings since and has spawned two spin-offs CSI: Miami and CSI: New York.
I have been a huge fan of the original CSI since the premiere episode and was excited to see the first season finally make it to Blu-ray. One of the unique aspects of this show is its look, which is one of the stars alongside the actors. The cinematography is at times dark with a trademark blue hue during investigations and is contrasted with the bright and beautiful Las Vegas location with all the color and light of its casinos.
The first time I watched a CSI episode with my HDTV cable box it was amazing and brought the show to a whole new level. This Blu-ray release provides the first season in 1080i High Definition with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The colors are vivid, the details sharp, and the contrasts distinct.
In addition to being able to enjoy the heightened look of the first season it also provided a chance to go back and see how it all started. The pilot episode doesn’t do a lot of initial set-up; the viewer is immediately brought into the action at the first murder scene. It is clear that Doctor Gilbert “Gil” Grissom (William Petersen) is in control of the lab. Each of the other main characters, Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), Nick Stokes (George Eads), Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan), Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) and Captain Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle), are also introduced. There is not much character information, which is what I like about the show; you get hints of it but the episodes stick to being focused on the crimes and forensics. The team starts off referring to themselves as being from Criminalistics, later changed to Crime Lab, a much smarter and less nerdy referral. It is fun to go back and see events that will have a big impact on the characters in later seasons. Willows struggles with her soon to be ex-husband, Brown’s gambling problems, and the future romance between Grissom and Sidle are all initiated here.
All of the actors look much younger but what is most disturbing is the appearance of Helgenberger. I thought that she was beautiful and is one of my favorite characters for being a strong female role model. In later seasons, she has become much more sexed-up with more makeup and tighter, more revealing clothes. I have noticed it as the seasons have progressed but to go back to the first season makes it that much more obvious and disappointing. There was absolutely no reason to do this and it makes her less credible along with being a sad progression for a female character.
The audio is presented in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and makes a point of immersing the viewer within the ambiance of the scenes, regardless of whether it’s sounds in offices or out on the streets. The soundtrack and score are balanced well and the dialogue is clear and distinct.
The special features include deleted scenes, series and episodic promos, and a gag reel. There is also a director’s cut of the pilot along with an audio commentary by director Danny Cannon. “CSI People Lie . . . But the Evidence Never Does” is a featurette from 2003 which offers interviews with the creators, cast and crew. “CSI: Season One – Rediscovering the Evidence" (HD) presents new interviews and a look back a season one. The extras are nothing special and are not the reason to purchase this DVD collection.
CSI is still one of the best crime drama’s on television and the first season set the stage for all that was to come. Whether you are a new viewer or longtime fan here is your chance to see the first season in all of its glory.