I was really impressed at season ten of CSI; having been through a rocky transition it all seemed to be working beautifully – fun and interesting stories, engaging characters and nicely written relationships. It was confident and relaxed, underplaying storylines and allowing things to develop smoothly and gradually. While it wasn’t exactly appointment television, there were some real gems of episodes, and it was rarely disappointing.
Unfortunately ‘disappointing’ is one of the key words I’d use to describe season eleven, all I really remember of it were the attempts for the BIG storylines, over-egged character stories and utterly hammy villains. It all felt forced, as if someone had told the writers that everything had to be dialled up to 11.
Annoying super-villain Nate Haskell returned to monologue and slime his way through another season, taunting Langston and getting under his skin in a way that could only happen in television land. Maybe if Catherine had just had an Essex Friday night style “leave it Ray, he ain’t worth it!” screaming fit in episode one, or Brass had done a manly “just get over it” intervention we would have been saved a lot of ridiculous trials, escapes and inevitable violent confrontations. It’s bad enough when CSIs get overly involved in the case-of-the-week and no one pulls them away, but this went on and on all bloody season.
Meanwhile there were… other cases. None of which I can remember. Oh Justin Bieber turned up at one point, except if (like me) you have no idea what a Bieber is it just came across as a couple of unremarkable episodes with weird lingering shots of a guest star. And there was some supposedly famous burlesque dancer. I expect that kind of ratings grabbing from CSI:NY, just like I expect the over-the-topness from CSI: Miami, but I kind of thought the original series was better than that.
Overall I think there was way too much emphasis this season screaming for attention, as if they were worried that no one would care about their eleventh season if they didn’t do something spectacular. Sadly they missed the point – getting to an eleventh season is the spectacular thing, have some confidence and self-respect, there’s no need for a mid-life crisis, you were doing just fine. Hopefully the writers have got it all out of their system and season twelve can just settle down again.