I continue to be amazed by how great television is these days. Sure, some of you may claim that primetime is riddled with all these cheesy reality shows, and that certain shows are well past their glory days. Well, I can't really argue with that theory. Like most people, I am guilty of overlooking television shows for no real reason. Up until a few weeks ago, I had never watched an episode of "CSI." 45 minutes later, and I was completely hooked, and wanted more. That's why I demanded that I be the one to review "CSI: The Complete First Season."
What separates "CSI" from all other detective shows is that it takes a radically different approach. Shows like "The Shield" and "NYPB Blue" are excellent in their own right, but seem to focus more on the central characters, rather than the crimes they're investigating. "CSI" takes us inside the crimes committed, and lets us see them from different perspectives based on what we know at the time. For instance, a man claims to have shot a man in self-defense. We are then shown the crime according to that claim. Later on in the investigation, we learn more facts about the crime committed, and we are treated to an updated version. When the crime is finally solved, we get to see what REALLY happened. I know it sounds confusing, but trust me it's one of the best ideas I've seen in a long time.
"CSI" revolves around a group of people working for the Las Vegas Criminalistics Division. The group includes veteran Gil Grissom (William L. Peterson), single mother Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), as well as a host of others. As crime scene investigators, they explore every detail and piece of evidence possible concerning a crime. I know it may sound a little tedious, but when they make a breakthrough in a case, you'll be in awe. Trust me, the show is that good.
"CSI: The Complete First Season" features 23 episodes, each having a running time of approximately 45 minutes. Below are episode summaries broken down per disc. Be forewarned, there are some potential spoilers in their descriptions.
Pilot - Without a doubt, one of the greatest pilots I have ever seen. The team investigates a forced entry, and a suicide. Brown and Stokes compete for a promotion.
Cool Change - Sara Sidel comes in to investigate a shooting, and Gissom and Stokes investigate the suicide of a casino jackpot winner.
Crate and Burial - Grissom, Stokes, and Sidel are on the lookout for a kidnapped woman. Willows and Warrick investigate a hit and run.
Pledging Mr. Johnson Grissom and Willows investigate a severed leg. Sidel and Stokes investigate a fraternity.
Friends & Lovers - Grissom and Warrick investigate the dead, naked body of a young man. A school dean is murdered, and Willows and Stokes are on the case.
Who Are You? - Willows' ex-husband is accused of rape. Grissom and Stokes investigate a skeleton buried in cement.
Blood Drops - A teenager and his sister are the sole survivors of their family's murder, and the crew is there to investigate.
Anonymous - An old case is reopened, and the murderer is toying with Grissom. Warrick and Stokes investigate a case involving a man driving his car over a cliff.
Unfriendly Skies - A person dies on a first class flight, and the crime scene investigators attempt to decipher what happened based on the accounts of the other passengers.
Sex, Lies and Larvae - Grissom and Sidel investigate a decaying body. Warrick is accused of gambling while on duty.
I-15 Murders - Grissom investigates a supermarket kidnapping. A bathroom stall claims five women have been killed.
Fahrenheit 932 - A convicted arsonist seeks assistance from Grissom. The world of sports gambling is investigated.
Boom - A bomb goes off, killing one and injuring many others. Stokes is a suspect in the death of one of his friends.
To Halve and to Hold - Grissom and Willows attempt to piece together a dismembered skeleton. Warrick and Sidel investigate the death of a male stripper.
Table Stakes - A woman turns up dead at a fundraiser. Warrick investigates a professional hit.
Too Tough to Die - A woman is kidnapped and tortured. Willows and Warrick handle evidence for an upcoming trial.
Face Lift - A woman is burned to death in her home, and Sidel and Warrick investigate. A body is found in a pottery store.
$35K O.B.O. - An anniversary turns deadly, and the subsequent rain doesn't help the investigation. Three elderly women are killed in a structure collapse.
Gentle, Gentle - The parents of a kidnapped child are investigated.
Sounds of Silence - A deaf man is killed by two women, or was he? Willows and Stokes investigate a mob hit.
Justice is Served - A wild animal kills a jogger. The murder of a young girl at a carnival is investigated.
Evaluation Day - A dismembered head is found in the trunk of a car, and the team is there to investigate.
The Strip Strangler - The crew sets out to finally find the man who's been evading capture since the first episode. Great finale.
"CSI" is presented in full frame 1.33:1. Personally, this makes no sense to me, as the show is broadcast in 16x9 every week on CBS. Anyways, even with the full frame transfer, "CSI" looks great. Flesh tones are dead on, and there is essentially no grain or artifacting present. The wild and vivid colors of Las Vegas look great here, with no color bleeding whatsoever. Aside from my issue with it being full frame, this is one of the best TV-to-DVD transfers I've seen yet.
The audio is presented in Dolby 2.0. There are no audio dropouts whatsoever, and character dialogue is crisp and clean. The soundtrack sounds great, as the DVD presentation gives my system a good workout (although I'm VERY tired of The Who's "Who Are You" theme song). I did expect Dolby 5.1 however, considering it's a fairly new show with a big budget. Regardless, I'm very satisfied with the presentation.
Every DVD, except for the sixth disc, has the same exact menu. An interactive screen with audio allows you to select between four episodes (the sixth disc has the three episodes, plus the special features). The menu allows two options: "Episode Selection" and "Set Up" (English or Spanish Audio Options). Everything is laid out neatly, and everything is easily accessible.
"CSI: The Complete First Season" has very few, if any, special features worth mentioning. The first is a music video from The Who (you guessed it, it's "Who Are You?"). The video is filled with clips of the band and scenes from "CSI." Next up is a fluff featurette called "CSI – People Lie… But the Evidence Never Does." It's a few minutes long, and features comments from the cast and crew. The last of the special features are "Character Profiles." As a fan of the show, I must say that the special features present are VERY lame. They should have at least given us a commentary or something along those lines. Oh well.
This one is a toughie. The show is excellent, but the DVD presentation is nowhere near as good as it could have been. Had this set been given a better treatment (i.e. 16x9, commentaries, etc) I would have gladly given it a "Highly Recommended." But because of the somewhat high price tag, the lack of extras, and the full frame transfer, I'll "Recommend" it for newbies, and proclaim that it's good purchase for fans of the show.