Writing a review for season six of CSI: NY immediately after reviewing House season six makes me feel that maybe I’ve been a little harsh on House. I criticised it for having a lot of un-memorable fluff around a few amazing minutes each episode. Then I come to look at CSI:NY and realise that the fluff is for the most part just as unmemorable, there are no amazing minutes and the only memorable bits are only memorable because they’re kind of awful.
The problem with New York is that it feels like it’s a television show, that everything is written and guided to maximise ratings, product placement, celebrity appearances and mostly, to generate an exciting looking trailer for next week’s episode. The cases and character developments all feel contrived; nothing seems as if it’s stuff that has just happened and has to be dealt with, it always feels as if a committee of writers has sat down together and decided what would be interesting this week. The next week they may decide something different and the previous events are just forgotten. It means that each episode is quite enjoyable in a disposable way, but when I come to write the end of season review I feel weirdly angry about the whole thing.
The science is really suffering along the way. Too often the episode is about an artificial puzzle created by the criminal to specifically grab the attention of the CSIs. As if they too have seen their smug faces on TV and want to have a shot at beating them. The thing is the puzzles aren’t satisfying for a viewer because they always require huge amounts of exposition to explain and are always solved only just in the nick of the time. It all felt too artificial, crossing out of the realms of suspension of disbelief and leaving me rolling my eyes. The science is often compromised along the way, fitted in around the puzzle or the need for a flashy effect.
Characters suffer from the same flip-flopping continuity issues. The cliff-hanger of season five effected the whole team either directly through injury or loss, or indirectly seeing their colleagues and friends struggling with grief or physical issues. But after a few episodes that all seemed to be mended, it was only when I started writing this and looked back at the episode guide for the whole season that I remembered the apparently life altering turmoil the characters had been through, by the end of the season it was as if none of it had happened.
When they’re being written well, I like the New York characters; they act like a big dysfunctional family and fall into their roles easily. I was worried last year that the Lindsey and Danny relationship would have a negative effect on the show, but it’s either been handled carefully so it has minimal effect on the story or it was a victim of the uneven continuity and some of the writers just forgot about it. I like it when Mac loosens up a bit and gets off his self-righteous horse and he’s done that a bit more this season. Hawkes I find annoying in the extreme, but he had very little to do in the second half of the season, so that was fine by me. While depressed Flack at the start of the season was very well played, in some ways I was glad that the writers forgot that arc and returned him to carefree sarcasm. I thought it was a real shame that the Stella and Adam relationship wasn’t investigated more though, Adam is a great spark of life to the show (much like Greg in CSI:Original’s early years) and his lack of confidence is a really great contrast to the self-righteous CSIs.
I think New York is struggling to identify itself. It’s always been the quiet younger sibling compared to the trend setting oldest and explosive middle child; but at 6 years old, it really should be able to stand on its own. Maybe this season long arc of puzzle solving is it staking a claim as to the approach it’s going to take to the CSI genre, but if it is, I’m afraid I don’t like it. CSI:Original went through a few years of not quite knowing what to do with itself, until the recent massive cast shuffle gave it a new lease of life. With CSI:NY’s relatively low ratings, and a move to the Friday Night death slot in the US next year, I have a suspicion the show may not survive much longer, and while I am glad to have watched past seasons, if season 6 is an indication of the direction the show is going to take I don’t think I’ll miss it very much.