"CSI" remains one of the biggest hits that CBS has had in ages, so it's understandable that the popular mystery/drama has spawned not one, but two spin offs - the first of which takes place in the very mystery-friendly Miami. The show focuses on lead detective Horatio Caine (David Caruso, finally making his comeback), who solves - with his forensics crew - some of Miami's toughest cases. They go through blood stain evidence, ballistics and every other possible detail relating to the case. Helping Caine are Calleigh Dusquene (Emily Procter), recovery expert Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) and others.
The show often spends the hour going through one distinct, standalone crime. Although the focus often hovers around the Caruso character, the supporting players do good work, and occasionally get their chance to shine in some of the episodes. The visuals are as slick as the series the show has spun-off from - a series of experienced cinematographers bring the sort of golden-hued look that producer Jerry Bruckheimer's feature films often sport. The elaborate trick shots that get the viewer into the middle of the evidence also return here, as well. The 8th season of the series also sees the show switch from filming on film to using HD video.
The eighth season of the series still sees the series chugging along reasonably well, thanks to continued fine performances from the main cast members and the show's ability to craft mysteries that - at least for the most part - proceed with a brisk pace and manage to keep the tension up. The show also continues to benefit from Caruso's performance, as while the actor's effort is not going to find a place in the Television Hall of Fame, it's a performance that often does go over-the-top (and then some) with seriousness and attitude, but Caruso manages to walk the line quite well and the result is a character that's fun to watch and a great engine for the show.
Still, one mild concern remains the writing, which has moments where it becomes inconsistent - while Caruso's performance can go over-the-top in a "knowing" way, some of the stories become a bit much ("Dude, Where's My Groom", where the CSI's have to recreate a bachelor party to solve a case, as well as a "Hannah Montana"-like story and another involving Calleigh being haunted by a victim.) While Caruso has the ability to apply his particular brand of ultra-seriousness to even the most unusual situation in the series, some of the rest of the cast - not as much.
The eighth season of the series opens weaving in the old and the new, as "Out of Time" follows the team as they search for Delko, while we are shown flashbacks to years prior, following what lead the CSI's to become CSIs. The episode is a compelling and well-written way to start off the season. Additionally, the early episodes also introduce two new cast members, starting with Jesse Cardoza (Eddie Cipriani, who seems like a fairly good fit with the rest of the cast) Another new cast member, Walter Simmons (Omar Benson Miller in a good bit of casting) joins the team as a lab tech. Finally, in a welcome move, Khandi Alexander returns to the series in a couple of appearances.
Despite a few episodes that do go a little bit into absurdity, there are still a number of highlights this season, such as the powerful "Dishonor", where Caine's son, Kyle (Evan Ellingson) returns from war and asks Horatio for assistance with a case. It's a powerful episode, with solid performances from both Ellington and the core cast. "Kill Clause", while it has a kind of ridiculous front regarding jellyfish, goes in an interesting direction and eventually focuses on something going on in corporations today (although certainly not to the extent shown in the episode, but is based upon an upsetting trend in reality.) Other highlights include "Bone Voyage" (which sees Laurence Fishburne's "CSI" character traveling to Miami and then to "CSI: NY" for a case), "In Plane Sight" (the CSI's look for who's responsible in a case involving a hated man who cheated investors), "Spring Breakdown" (the team splits up to solve different Spring Break cases) and others.
Overall, while the season does have some mis-steps, it's mostly another engaging round of cases with Caine and his fellow CSIs.
168 8-01 21/Sep/09 Out of Time
169 8-02 28/Sep/09 Hostile Takeover
170 8-03 05/Oct/09 Bolt Action
171 8-04 12/Oct/09 In Plane Sight
172 8-05 19/Oct/09 Bad Seed
173 8-06 02/Nov/09 Dude, Where's My Groom?
174 8-07 09/Nov/09 Bone Voyage
175 8-08 16/Nov/09 Point of Impact
176 8-09 23/Nov/09 Kill Clause
177 8-10 07/Dec/09 Count Me Out
178 8-11 14/Dec/09 Delko for the Defense
179 8-12 11/Jan/10 Show Stopper
180 8-13 18/Jan/10 Die By The Sword
181 8-14 01/Feb/10 In The Wind
182 8-15 08/Feb/10 Miami, We Have A Problem
183 8-16 01/Mar/10 L.A.
184 8-17 08/Mar/10 Getting Axed
185 8-18 22/Mar/10 Dishonor
186 8-19 12/Apr/10 Spring Breakdown
187 8-20 19/Apr/10 Backfire
188 8-21 03/May/10 Meltdown
189 8-22 10/May/10 Mommie Deadest
190 8-23 17/May/10 Time Bomb
191 8-24 24/May/10 All Fall Down
VIDEO:"CSI: Miami" is presented by Paramount in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The season saw a change in filming style as the season saw the series move from filming on film to filming in HD. The picture quality is very good - in my opinion, the image remained as excellent as the prior season presentations. Sharpness and detail remained fantastic throughout, as the level of definition remained very pleasing. Fine object detail was often apparent, and there was often nice depth to the image.
The presentations largely seemed flawless. Some light shimmering occured a couple of times, but I didn't notice any instances of edge enhancement, pixelation or print/element flaws. Colors remained bright and vibrant, with nice saturation and no smearing. Flesh tones remained accurate, while black level remained solid. Overall, this is superlative work.
SOUND: "CSI: Miami" is presented by Paramount in Dolby Digital 5.1. The show's audio is pretty good for a television program. Surrounds aren't put into terribly aggressive use, but the rear speakers do come in during many episodes to deliver some nicely placed sound effects. Audio quality remained superb, as sound effects and dialogue remained crisp and seemed well-recorded. The opening Who track also has a dynamic, full quality and kicks off the episodes strongly.
EXTRAS: Commentaries are included on "Out of Time" (Sam Hill, Larry Detweiler, James Wilcox and Paul Codiga) and "Backfire" (Don Tardino, Claudia Yarmy, Emily Proctor and Adam Rodriguez). The commentaries for this set continue to be excellent additions to the set, with cast and crew providing terrific behind-the-scenes insights about performances, filming, story lines, technical details and more. Perhaps given the crossover episode in this season, "Bone Voyage", a pair of crossover episodes are also included - one from CSI: NY ("Hammer Down") and one from CSI ("The Lost Girls")
A series of featurettes is also offered, including "MDPD Files", which is an introduction to the season's two new cast members. "It's Been Reel" is a short piece that tracks the reactions of the behind-the-scenes crew to the transition from filming "Miami" on film to video. "Blast to the Past" follows the production as it films the flashback scenes in the first episode, and "Twist of Eight" provides an overview of the season. Finally, "Langston Heads East" follows "CSI" actor Laurence Fishburne and his work on cross-over episodes on "CSI Miami" and "CSI NY". The commentaries on this set are very good, and quite informative. The featurettes, however, were fairly average and somewhat promotional in nature at times.
Final Thoughts: "CSI: Miami" feels a bit inconsistent at times during season 8, but there are also still certainly some very good episodes and continued solid performances from the ensemble cast. Paramount's DVD set once again provides superb audio/video quality and a solid selection of supplemental features. Recommended.