The original CSI is still the best in my opinion, season 5 seemed to be an attempt to re-energise the series by mixing things up a bit and introducing some new characters. I admire the attempt, but wish they’d tried pushing things a little further rather than sort of sticking a toe in the water and then backing away again.
There seemed to be an acknowledgement that the characters probably want to start moving their careers onwards so Greg made it into the field finally, Catherine moved to head up a new shift taking Warrick and Nick with her and Grissom sort of got a new sidekick in the form of Sophia. The problems come when Sophia only actually appears in 9 episodes, rarely in more than a couple of scenes, so although she seems to have interesting chemistry with Grissom nothing really comes of it. Splitting the team was a nice idea, but all it really seemed to mean was that the pairings for cases were always the same, they didn’t do much with the idea of Catherine as a manager. CSI has never really been about the characters but about the cases, so the changes just made things a bit more restricted. The only change that worked without question was putting Greg in the field, the character is great fun and introducing a ‘new’ person to the field allowed everything to be rediscovered. Also the chemistry between him, Sara and Grissom was great – a nice little dysfunctional family.
The series is still falling into the problem of trying to do everything continually bigger and more extreme. There’s almost always multiple bodies in an episode and high profile cases. The episodes that were most fun this season were the ones like Viva Las Vegas and 4×4 where the cases were smaller. The liberties with science and timing seem to be ever increasing as well.
The season finale written and directed by Quentin Tarantino came across as CSI for the big screen. It was fascinating to see Tarantino’s distinct style brought into CSI and I was impressed at how well the two merged together – it was definitely Tarantino and yet it was still CSI. Making the case a ticking clock with one of the team as the victim made for a big screen worthy plot but came across a bit fanfiction to me. It will be interesting to see if this episode is treated a bit like an alternate reality and not really mentioned or whether it’s incorporated well into the series history with suitable repercussions for the characters. It was interesting to see the actors pushed a bit further and I was impressed at how much they managed to do with limited budget and time. An interesting interlude, but it’s not what I want CSI to be about.
DVD Special Features
The region 1 dvd has a list of special features that look impressive on paper but end up being quite spectacularly dull. The commentaries usually feature writers, directors and advisers and are horribly dry and frequently suffering from “watching the episode syndrome”. The couple of times the actors appear turn into mutual appreciation meetings. The absence of a commentary on the season finale leaves a bit of a gaping hole.
The featurettes are equally dry, I can’t really remember much about most of them. The only redeeming feature is the Tarantino featurette that goes into the detail of the final episode and includes interviews with Tarantino. He is so enthusiastic and vocal about his love for the series and how he wanted to approach it that you can’t help but realise how dull everyone else is.