Plot: What’s it about?
The juggernaut that is CSI is still going strong. Now entering its sixth season, the show is still consistently #1 in the ratings every week. The CBS Thursday night that starts with “Survivor” is anchored with “CSI” and even though there are now two spinoffs (CSI: Miami and CSI: NY), the original is still the one to beat. This fifth season saw a lot happen to Grissom and his team and the season finale was written and directed by none other than Quentin Tarantino. For the few folks out there who haven’t really followed the series (or any of its spin-offs) here’s the abridged version. The CSI team is the crime lab that tries to put the pieces of the puzzle (usually a murder) together by collecting evidence. These days it all boils down to DNA and as Grissom (William Peterson) and his crew collect the evidence, they narrow down the list of suspects until they finally get their man, woman or child. And in a nutshell, that’s it. I will say that television has come a long way in a short amount of time. CSI is very gruesome, showing things that I didn’t even know they could show on TV nowadays and scenes that we’d only see in a “Friday the 13th” movie a few years ago. That said, the show is extremely well-written, with dynamic characters and generally leaves the audience member wanting more. The backdrop of Las Vegas only adds to the allure, making the impossible – possible.
The fifth season saw some changes as Ecklie (Mark Vann) has been promoted to the Assistant Director of the lab. He then breaks the team up with Grissom leading one team and Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) leading the other half. There are cases in mental institutions in which Sarah (Jorja Fox) is attacked; we see some more personal sides to the characters as well. Greg (Eric Szmanda) has crawled out of the lab and has become a full-fledged member of the CSI team and once they found his replacement, everything seems to work well. Possibly the best and most interesting episode of the season is the season finale that was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Naturally I don’t want to give away what happens, but suffice it to say that Nick (George Eads) has a lot of time to do some thinking. Love it or hate it (and not many hate it), CSI is one of the more intriguing shows to come on the air. Its graphic depiction of violence might leave some stomachs turning, but it’s a lot more real than most of the “Reality TV” out there. The cases change every week and the show is smartly-written, leaving even the most dedicated viewers wanting more. I’m not knocking CSI: Miami and CSI: NY, but suffice it to say that more often that not, the original is usually the best.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are shown in a very good-looking 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer just as they appear on TV (a reason to own a widescreen TV if you don’t have one). The quality is consistent on all of the episodes, though there are plenty of differences in the actual quality of how they appear. This is done for dramatic effect and not a result of the transfers. Flesh tones appear warm and natural and with the movement of some of the team to the day shift, we actually get to see what they look like in natural light and not just at night! These discs accurately represent what they looked like when they originally aired, and even a bit better in some spots. A nice effort here.
Audio: How does it sound?
While it’s true that most of the television shows out there aren’t geared for Dolby Digital 5.1, the “C.S.I.’s” are an exception to that rule. In almost every episode the speakers are humming and rattling about with action coming through the surrounds and fronts in nearly every scene. Dialogue is very clean and though the soundtracks differ from episode to episode, it’s a great way to experience a television show. Granted we’re not talking major explosions or anything, but when you listen to it CSI sounds more like a movie than a TV show.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Although the show is #1 in the ratings it’ll still take a very dedicated fan to fork over the $90 that this season will run. Paramount is no dummy and the seven disc set comes equipped with commentary tracks on 9 of the 25 episodes. The tracks are informative and they’re not limited to the shows producers or writers, several of the actors including Jorja Fox, George Eads and Marg Helgenberger offer up tracks that explain offer up some more information on the episodes. Four other featurettes are included, namely “CSI: Tarantino style” which is a look at the making of the season finale that so captivated viewers. Next is and 8 part featurette “Forensic Procedures on the Scene vs. on the Screen” showing the research involved to make what we see accurate. This is complimented by “CSI: Maintaining the Accuracy” where we see how much trouble the producers go through to make sure the show is represented as accurately as possible. Lastly, “CSI Season Five – a Post-Mortem” is included with some looks at the highlights of the season. Chances are if you turn on CBS on any given day of the week you’ll see at least one of the CSI’s and though it might top off at three, the original is still the favorite of many.