In 10 Words or Less
Solving more crimes in the big city
Loves: The CSI franchise, Gary Sinise
Likes: Danny Messer, "CSI:NY"
Dislikes: New York City
Hates: Crazy-ass taxi drivers
The Story So Far...
The second spin-off from the successful "C.S.I." series, "C.S.I.:N.Y." follows the New York City-based forensics team led by Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinese) as they track down criminals in the enormous, dense and diverse city of Manhattan. The show takes full advantage of Gotham's world-famous and iconic locales, as well as the wide variety of residents, businesses and lifestyles, to tell stories unique to this series. The first season of the show was released on DVD in October of 2005, and was followed by season two in 2006. DVDTalk has reviews of both sets: Season One | Season Two
The third season of "C.S.I.:N.Y." breaks some of the unwritten rules of modern semi-serialized TV, as the episodes, until the final stretch, are more about the individual stories, as the investigators attempt to solve the various criminal puzzles and catch the bad guys. In a way, it's kind of refreshing keeping the spotlight on the cases, giving the show a very in-the-moment feel, while still flirting with the character-driven story arcs that give the CSI franchise its depth.
Though less accentuated this time around, these plots are no less interesting, like bad-ass Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) and his developing relationship with Lindsay (Anna Belknap), whom he affectionately calls "Montana." It's the only really positive interpersonal story for the team, as Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) struggles with the possibility that she contracted HIV at a crime scene, and Mac becomes a pawn in a game of police politics, along with discovering an extended family member he never knew. Stella's story was particularly effective, as it wasn't handled like an afterschool special, instead coloring her work and life by the situation. Her character's toughness has been well-established, and the reaction to this possibly illness is a natural extension of the character.
In order to avoid becoming stagnant, the show made a few changes in the cast, bumping up the role of Adam (A.J. Buckley) a laid-back lab tech who provides a bit of comic relief, and introducing Dr. Peyton Driscoll (Mallrats' Claire Forlani), the new medical examiner and a love interest for Mac. Forlani gives Mac some new areas to explore in himself, but outside of that, she could have been any character. Thankfully, she doesn't take screen time away from the far more interesting M.E., Sid (Robert Joy.) It's unlikely that Peyton will add much to the series, but at least she lightens up Mac's grim world a bit.
A couple of villains become recurring characters in this season, including a code-based college killer and a horrifying murderer who is freed because of Mac's actions, but corruption remains of of the team's most aggressive enemies, coming to a head in "Consequences," which draws in Detective Flack (Eddie Cahill), before culminating in the sharp "...Comes Around." You don't need to see all their appearances to follow along either, which lets everyone in on the entertainment. This season is marked by great stand-alone episodes like "The Lying Game," which ventures into the world of the transgendered and transvestites, or "What Schemes May Come," a pretty philosophical look at life and what you do with it, centered around the deaths of two strangers linked by DNA evidence. The only noticeable negative about the storytelling is a reliance on "team against the system" plots, which appear frequently, including Mac's arc, the Hawkes-focused "Raising Shane," and the revelations about Stella's background in "Cold Reveal." If a department ever was accused of crimes as often as Mac's team is, there's no way they'd be allowed to keep working.
While the main cast gets the best storylines, guest stars fare well on "C.S.I.: N.Y.," integrating with the city setting with ease, which makes their episodes stand out from the rest, especially since so many get to play the bad guy. Edward Furlong, Criss Angel, Judd Nelson, tennis legend John McEnroe, singer Nelly Furtado...the list is quite diverse and none of them are out of place. In fact, one of the most memorable characters of the season was a guest star, as Joey Lawrence (yes, that one) plays a frightening killer that's absolutely believable. After watching him on this series, I see him in a much different, less "whoa"-influenced light.
The final episode of the season is the best 44-minutes the show has ever offered, and just might be the most intense hour of network television ever produced. In "Snow Day," a heavily-armed Irish gang invades the C.S.I. lab, looking to recover evidence from a recent drug bust, which traps Mac, Stella and Hawkes in the building, unarmed, while Danny and Adam are held hostage by other members of the gang at the crime scene. I've never had a TV show evoke the sense of dread and the thrills this episode brought out, as some incredibly beautiful action sequences join with gripping performances by Sinese and Giovinazzo to create what's essentially a mini action film. It's not just an incredible finale...it's simply incredible television.
Once again, the 24 second-season "CSI:NY" episodes arrive on six discs, with the extras spread throughout the DVDs. The packaging remains consistent with the previous set, as four clear trays, two of which are double-sided, hold the discs in a book-like format with an episode listing. The book is packed in a beautiful embossed, holofoil slipcase.
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 gorgeous, delivering vivid colors, a very high level of detail, and an overall sharp image. There was no noticeable dirt or damage in the picture, and there are no obvious digital artifacts, as the intricate special effects shots come off looking great, right down to little details like thin laser beams.
The audio presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, is well reproduced, using the sides and rear speakers to pump up the excellent music used in the show as well as delivering some subtle sound effects. Though you won't find any panning or directionality in the mix, the dialogue is crystal clear and nothing sounds "off."
Another solid collection of bonus material is presented this season, but it's a bit lighter than last time, with one less commentary and one less featurette. It seems like the extras are getting cut back each year, after giving us seven commentaries and five featurettes on the season one set.
Things start with four audio commentaries:
- "Not What it Looks Like": Writers Pam Veasey and Peter Lenkov and director Duane Clark
- "Oedipus Hex": Writer/creator Anthony E. Zuiker and Suicide Girls founder Missy Suicide
- "Consequences": Veasey and Cahill
- "Silent Night": Lenkov and writer Sam Humphrey
Smartly, they brought back Lenkov for a pair of chats, as he was one of the best commentators in season two, and added Cahill, making the first appearance by an actor on this series, and Suicide, giving a bit of an outsider perspective. Zuiker and Suicide make a solid pairing, delivering an enjoyable, informative track, with a few dead spots, while Cahill and Veasey have a lot of fun chatting about a key episode. The choice of episodes is well-done, with four unique and/or important chapters of the season.
The featurettes kick off with "Breaking the Killer Code," a 12 and a half minute look at the Shane Casey storyline that started in "Hung Out to Dry." It was a good choice for a featurette, with the gruesome murders and the interesting t-shirt code that's the key to the arc's plot. Interviews with members of the cast and crew, Furlong (who was making his TV debut) and the t-shirt designers help flesh out the production story, making for a nice behind-the-scenes piece. "The Making of 'Silent Night'" treads similar ground for just over eight minutes, but this time covering the guest-star heavy episode that featured Olympic skater Sasha Cohen and Marlee Matlin, which gives it a different point of view. Matlin and Cohen sit down for interviews, along with key cast and crew.
The most impressive extra in the set is the 22-minute "Hill Harper Explores the Body Farm," in which the actor visits the famous forensics training and research center at the University of Tennessee. The concept of the farm was introduced to mainstream America in season two of "C.S.I." and it's a fascinating place for anyone remotely interested in forensics. Hill asks a lot of questions that let the Body Farm staff share a great deal of info about their work and keeps things moving and very disgusting, as the footage is pretty graphic, as the warning before the piece lets you know.
Another warning precedes the 12-minute "The Suicide Girls Do 'C.S.I.:N.Y.'" which explores the burlesque/erotica group The Suicide Girls, who guest star in "Oedipus Hex." The piece starts as a profile of the girls before going onto the set to look closer at the production, including interviews with Zuiker, the Girls and Tim Kern, the tattoo artist who did the design of the key clue in the show.
PC gamers get an extra bonus, as the set comes with a demo of the new C.S.I. game, "Hard Evidence," on a separate packed-in disc. The game is similar to the others in the C.S.I. series, with a point-and-click format, but if you've never checked it out before, here's your chance.
Disappointingly, there's nothing here covering the season finale, which would seem to offer tons of material for extras. A commentary would have been appreciated, or even just a short featurette like last season.
The Bottom Line
The series took a detour from the "C.S.I." playbook in the third season, focusing more on plot-driven stories than character-driven stories, and the results are several stand-out mysteries and a finale that's just unbelievable. The DVDs look and sound great, and the extras, though limited in quantity, are rather in-depth. If you enjoy high-octane thrillers or deep, involved mysteries, you can't go wrong with this season, especially with the great finale.
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.