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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Sixth Season
C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Sixth Season
Paramount // Unrated // November 14, 2006
List Price: $89.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Francis Rizzo III | posted November 11, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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In 10 Words or Less
Another year of solving crimes in Sin City

Reviewer's Bias*
Loves: The CSI franchise, the Las Vegas version, Gil Grissom
Likes: Mysteries
Dislikes: Repetition in the franchise
Hates: Catherine and her storyline

The Story So Far...
Gil Grissom (William Peterson, Manhunter) leads a team of criminologists working the beat in Las Vegas, where the crimes are a bit more involved than usual stuff that makes the 11 o'clock news. His crew uses the full breadth of forensic science to solve murders and more, while their stories are told with true visual style, excitement and a healthy dose of humor as well. In recent seasons, the action has gone beyond the crime scene, to delve into the characters' lives a bit more.

This is the sixth season of "C.S.I." to be released on DVD. The first two sets were released in March and September of 2003, respectively, while the third and fourth collections followed in March and October of 2004. All caught up, it takes about a year to get a new set. DVDTalk has reviews of all five sets: Season One | Season Two | Season Three | Season Four | Season Five

The Show
Coming off one of the best seasons in the show's run, and one hell of a finale, directed by Quentin Tarantino, "CSI" had to do a lot to keep the momentum going and maintain its spot as the top dog in the forensics world.

Bringing the team back together for the end of the fifth season was the right move, as the separation helped change the characters' relationships, but eliminated opportunities for chemistry in some cases. Having the chance to switch up partners and create different dynamics makes the show better and more varied in the interpersonal stories.

One of the things that's great about "CSI," as opposed to shows like "Lost," is the way you can jump into just about any episode and enjoy it on its own merits, but if you follow the series, subplots reveal themselves that give greater meaning to the main stories, For instance, the drama that Nick (George Eads) was put through at the end of the previous season colors the way he reacts to cases this time around. It's just one example of how the series cultivates well-rounded, believable characters.

While the characters and the fantastic actors portraying them are a big part of why the series works so well, the unique and complex stories are just as important, and the sixth year of "CSI" is loaded with them. Though there are several straightforward stories, like the first five episodes, including a pair based on well-known real-life stories, it's the two-part "A Bullet Runs Through It" that gets the ball rolling on the season.

The story of a police shoot-out that leaves a cop dead and Brass and Sofia questioning themselves, this extended story really helps establish the character of Sofia and shows how good as actor Paul Guilfoyle is. From here, the episodes get really good, exploring unique concepts including competitive eating, "werewolves," nazi experiments and psychics. These could have been hokey or over-the-top, but in the world of "CSI," they work just right. The creators even feel confident enough to mess with the format, using split screen in "Room Service," introducing a show within the show in "I Like to Watch," and changing the entire "CSI" convention in "Killer."

There are a number of truly great stories in this set, with the best ones leaving you affected deeply, beyond the effect of good TV. Episodes like "Still Life" and the fantastic "The Unusual Suspect," where a young girl steps in to take the blame for her accused murderer brother, are incredibly powerful thanks to some excellent writing, beautiful production and equally great acting, especially from the supporting cast. Among the stand-outs are Faye Dunaway's role as a fading starlet in "Kiss, Kiss, Bye, Bye" and the return of Lady Heather (Melinda Clarke) in "Pirates of the Third Reich."

It all culminates in a two-part season finale that again puts Guilfoyle in the spotlight, and cements his place in the series. Yes, it trades on the cop-show cliche of putting one of the characters in mortal danger, but it goes beyond life and death and forces one of the crew to face a decision they never thought they'd have to make. The story is told with style and a proper sense of emotion and gravitas that put a perfect piece of punctuation on an excellent season.

I had hoped that the introduction of the book format used by "CSI:NY" would catch on with the rest of the series, but for once in DVD history, packaging continuity has been maintained, as the seven discs of Season Six are packed in a well-designed acetate digipak with four stacked disc trays, three of which are double-sided. The digipak is held in a thicker acetate slipcase, but for the first time, there's no crime-tape wrapper around the set.

The discs feature animated anamorphic main menus that follow the same design as previous seasons, with options to select episodes, adjust languages and check out the special features where available. Audio tracks are available in Dolby Digital 5.1 English and Dolby Digital 2.0 Spanish, but there are no subtitles, only closed captioning.

The Quality
The anamorphic widescreen transfers on these episodes look nearly as good as I remember them from the original HD broadcasts, with an extremely crisp image, wonderful color, deep blacks and not a speck of dirt, damage or digital artifacts. "CSI" goes crazy with its visuals, and these discs reproduce them faithfully.

The audio tracks, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 format, are very nice, using the side and rear speakers to enhance the sound effects and music, while presenting very clear dialogue. Some episodes are just bursting with lush, dynamic soundscapes, while others are more subtle and intimate. Check out the excellent desert winds in the opening scene of "Pirates of the Third Reich" to see just how good this show can sound.

The Extras
Seven episode-length audio commentaries are included for six episodes, with participation from writers, directors and actor George Eads. For the first time in the CSI franchise, two commentaries are provided for a single episode, which provides a nice variety of background for the show. The tracks are good and pretty informative, but the selections could have been better. The three commentaries on the two-part "A Bullet Runs Through It" were smart, as were the tracks for the unique "Killer" and "Poppin' Tags" episodes, but why there's nothing on the important final two episodes or the big season opener is unusual.

Here's a breakdown of the tracks:
"Shooting Stars" - director Danny Cannon
"Gun Drops" - writer Sarah Goldfinger
"A Bullet Runs Through It, Part I" - producer/writer Carol Mendelsohn and writer Rich Catalani
"A Bullet Runs Through It, Part I" - Cannon
"A Bullet Runs Through It, Part II" - Mendelsohn and producer/director Kenneth Fink
"Killer" - writer/producer Naren Shankar, writer/producer Dustin Lee Abraham, and Fink
"Poppin' Tags" - Abraham and Eads

The seventh disc holds the rest of the extras, which are made up of six featurettes. First up is "The Science of Sound," a 27-minute in-depth look at the way the show's soundtrack is created. It's very interesting material, and a good look at how the show is pulled together. "Gadgets & Gizmos" is a six-part piece on the tools used by the CSIs, hosted by tech consultant Rich Catalani and running just over six minutes in length. Most people will learn a good deal about the various gear from these clips, which can be watched individually or all together.

The four-part "Coroner Reports" focuses on the morgue and the crew, including the people laying on the slabs, for four minutes. It's not the best feature on this set, and could have used more time to really cover the topic. Again, these can be viewed separately or together. It does tie in with the seven-minute "Apparent Cause of Death," a featurette about the special effects that go into the dead bodies in the morgue, which should interest the gore-hounds and FX fans.

More focused on the show itself is the 19-minute "Season Six Trajectory," which is an excellent wrap up of the show's sixth tour of duty, using interviews with the cast and crew to examine the stories and themes this season explored. Wrapping things up is "The New Title Sequence," which shows how the series' titles have evolved from the first season, and presents a title sequence that wasn't used. It's a must see for CSI junkies.

The Bottom Line
The sixth season of "CSI" managed to keep pace with the excellent seasons that passed before, with some episodes that are among the show's all-time best, and a continued effort to avoid becoming stale by developing deeper characters and trying new things with the series' successful formula. This collection looks and sounds terrific, and includes a good deal of bonus material that will be of interest to the show's fans. Those who haven't checked out "CSI" before might want to jump in earlier in the run (Season Four is a good starting point, if you don't want to go all the way back), but this is a fine pick-up for anyone into mysteries, science or just plain good storytelling.

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.

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