In 10 Words or Less
Back on the New York City streets
Loves: The CSI franchise, Gary Sinise
Likes: Danny Messer, "CSI:NY"
Dislikes: New York City
Hates: Dirty Water Hot Dogs
The CSI franchise flirted with overexposure with the introduction of a
third version of the forensics drama, but managed to maintain its
momentum, as "CSI:NY" found a following and a spot among the ratings
leaders. That made the show's next move even riskier, as the executives
decided to change the show's mood and look to make it lighter and more
colorful. They could have killed the show's biggest strength (the gritty
atmosphere), but instead the alterations enhanced the crew's down and
dirty work with increased contrast.
The change in mood wasn't the only difference in the series in the
second season. Along with moving Hill Harper's excellent medical
examiner Sheldon Hawkes from the morgue to the streets as a newly-minted
CSI, they swapped sexy Aiden (Vanessa Ferlito) for corn-fed cutie
Lindsay (Anna Belknap), who brought a nice counterpoint to the cynical
city dwellers, and provides those unfamiliar with the Big Apple with a
character to relate with. The transition between the two women was
handled smoothly and realistically, without any forced introduction, and
set up one of the season's best episodes when Aiden's path crossed with
the CSIs once again.
It should also be noted that the cartoonish New York stereotype that was
CSI Danny Messer (played by the highly appropriately named Carmine
Giovinazzo) grew a bit in the second season, and though he maintains one
of the harshest city accents to ever grace TV, he has become more real,
and has found the requisite in-office sparks with Lindsay on his way to
becoming a key part of the show.
With the hard work of establishing the crew done after the first season,
the second run focused on delivering the goods in terms of some
city-focused mysteries, excellent acting and good use of the settings
NYC provided. When a series is set in a place with such iconic
locations, they have to take advantage of it, so you get investigations
at Strawberry Fields, the Empire State Building and the Museum of
Of course, you can't blow all your great locations in two seasons (might
be fun for the group to hit the Bronx and visit the Bombers at some
point...), so some stories are a bit less grandiose, with strip-club
shenanigans and panic-room scenarios among the plotlines. But even when
they stray from the tourist traps, they find unique settings, like the
roller derby in "Jamalot" or "All-Access," where Kid Rock becomes a
murder suspect and performs a song (sadly without any Pam goodness.)
Most of the cases have some nod to urban life, be it art galleries,
advertising posters or high society. It's the easiest way to fool people and
keep that city feel, even if the episode's not entirely New
There are a number of memorable episodes here, including "Manhattan
Manhunt," the second-half of a crossover with CSI: Miami.
It may just be his "NYPD Blue" experience coming through, but David
Caruso works very well with the NY group. It would interesting to see
the lead CSIs shifted around if/when William Petersen leaves Las Vegas,
as Caine and Melina Kanakaredas' Stella Bonasera have excellent
chemistry, moreso than she does with Gary Sinese's detective. "Manhunt,"
thanks to some useful flashbacks, works as a standalone episode, but it
wouldn't hurt to check out the first part from Miami (which is available
soon on DVD.)
Aided by the series' excellent use of music, there are several episodes
that do a number emotionally on the audience, especially as the season
comes to a close. The penultimate episode, "Heroes," ties into Mac's
military past, but that's just the start of things, as a storyline
started earlier in the year returns in a way that affects all the CSIs
and says goodbye to one of the cast in a wonderfully fitting way.
The finale again explores Mac's Marine background, by putting him at the
center of a terrorist's New York bombing campaign. Caught in a blast
that critically injures Detective Flack, Mac is trapped in the rubble,
bring back memories of his active-duty days. It's a tense episode, and
considering that no one is safe in the world of CSI, it packs some major
drama, putting a great cap on an excellent season.
This time, the CSI:NY shows come on six discs, instead of seven, with
the extras spread throughout the DVDs, instead of saved for a bonus
platter. The packaging that made the first season unique in the
franchise returns for the second set, with some slight improvements. The
book format now has just four, thicker, sturdier trays, two of which are
double-sided. The book, with its well-designed art, is in an embossed,
holofoil slipcase that's equally attractive.
The discs feature the same style of animated anamorphic widescreen
menus as last season, which offer a choice to select episodes, adjust
languages and, when applicable, check out bonus content. Audio choices include Dolby Digital 5.1 English and 2.0 Spanish. There are no subtitles, but closed captioning is included.
The anamorphic widescreen transfers are rock solid, looking nearly as good as they do when broadcast in high definition. Colors are vivid and reproduced without smearing, the level of detail is very high, and the overall image is very sharp and clean. There's not a speck of dirt or damage to be found and the franchise's trademark special effect look great as well.
The audio presentation, delivered in a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, is very strong, using the surround speakers to emphasizing the series' excellent soundtrack, as well as some atmoshperic effects. The mix isn't the most dynamic sound you'll hear from your receiver, but the dialogue is crystal clear and nothing is muddy or distorted.
Five audio commentaries are included, spread throughout the first three discs. There's a range in terms of the energy and quality of the participants, but none of the tracks stood out as boring or disappointing. As is usually the case, series creator Anthony Zuiker provides the best commentary, though the tandem of executive producer Peter Lenkov and director James Whitmore Jr. are fun to listen to. These are mainly for fans of the series, who want to know the making-of details.
"Summer in the City": director David Von Ancken & editor Bill Zabala
Five informative featurettes are sprinkled throughout the set, starting with "Top of the Heap: The Cast and Crew Look at Season 2." Though it feels a bit EPK-ish, as if it was shot to promote the show at the beginning of the season, the 10-minute piece has some good interview clips and info. The 7:30 "Rolling with 'Jamalot'" looks at the unique production challenges of a show about women's roller derby. "Behind the Scenes: 'Heroes'" spends 7:30 doing most of the same for that important episode.
"Grand Murder at Central Station": director Scott Lautanen & writer Zachary Reiter
"Manhattan Manhunt": creator Anthony Zuiker & writer Elizabeth Devine
"Bad Beat": Reiter & director Duane Clark
"Trapped": Lenkov & Whitmore
"A New Look from the 35th Floor - 'CSI:NY' Set Tour" features Zuiker, as he guides the viewer on an almost nine-minute tour of the second season's new set. Though he can be a bit cheesy, it's interesting to see the set in more detail and to see how much of the sets are fully functional. The set wraps with a 6:30 look at the season finale, again like the previous two on-set featurettes. In all, there's not much about the show thematically that hasn't been covered.
The Bottom Line
I certainly didn't start out as a big fan of "CSI:NY," but as the cast gets more comfortable in their skins, and the writers get a better handle on the cast's strengths, the series get better, earning its spot alongside Las Vegan and Miami. Making some interesting changes to the show, has not messed with the series formula, and instead has lifted the show. The disc arrives in a well-done package with some interesting and entertaining extras. Fans of the series will enjoy this collection, and those new to this entry are getting a great first look.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or follow him on Twitter
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.