So, four months after the release of the first part of Season 6, fans on this side of the Atlantic finally get to add the second piece of the puzzle – prompting you to think that it’s just as well the characters don’t have huge amounts of back story for us to forget in the interim.

The gang is all here – from beetles fan Gil Grissom (William Peterson) and senior investigator Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), to the lower ranks of the team, Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan), Nick Stokes (George Eads), Sarah Sidle (Jorja Fox) and, the latest addition to the CSI ranks Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda), now firmly established out on the street.

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Hodges (Wallace Langham) has become a firm fixture as the ‘lab rat’ replacement for Greg, while Brit actress Louise Lombard has also cemented her presence as tough cop Sofia Curtis with the stand-out mid-season climax (contained on the Season 6.1 box set) A Bullet Runs Through It (arguably a stronger double episode than the Season 6 finale).

The second part of Season 6 suffers from much the same problems as the first, in that the character back stories are treated in far too off-hand a fashion. Occasionally, there is a glimpse behind a curtain – for example, a hint at romance between Sarah and Gil – but more often than not these storylines are dropped in so infrequently that when they come it makes them less believable. While many a primetime drama has ended up drowning in soap, CSI could do to take a shower in it a little more often.

Perhaps the biggest gripe over the back stories is that, even when presented with something really juicy, such as the Nick Stokes burial episode back in Series 5, the show makes little capital of it. So despite giving it a key role in the 6.1 episode Gumdrops – the writers then seem to draw a line under the whole thing. This means that even when in the second part of the series a woman is found bricked in a chimney (Up In Smoke) it warrants no reaction from Nick at all – surely an opportunity missed?

The second part of Season 6 is also surprisingly lacking in humour. Although, episode 13, Kiss-Kiss, Bye-Bye offers some fun – largely due to an excellent cameo by Faye Dunaway – several other episodes, including Poppin’ Tags, Pirates Of The Third Reich and Up In Smoke are almost unremittingly grim.

Thankfully, there is some room for levity in Rashomama, which shows each CSI recount their version of an investigation and I Like To Watch, about a reality show filming the crew - while this is not a new concept these days, it at least permits for some dry wit. Episode 14, Killer, also shows some creative flair, with most of it shot from the perspective of the murderer, while The Unusual Suspect also takes some risks by making the audience try to choose which of two children is a murderer.

However, it is Paul Gilfoyle as Captain Jim Brass – so excellent in the mid-season dust up – who again gets to shine in the last two episodes, despite spending one of them on life-support. Could this be because he has the most well-documented back story of any of the cast – an estranged, drug addict daughter Ellie (Teal Redmann) – which means we truly care about what happens to him? Perhaps there is a lesson in there for the writers.

The weekly puzzles are still a challenge but, at six seasons in, too much mystery still surrounds the core characters.

Episodes included: Kiss-Kiss, Bye-Bye; Killer; Pirates Of The Third Reich; Up In Smoke; I Like To Watch; The Unusual Suspect; Spellbound; Poppin’ Tags; Rashomama; Time Of Your Death; Bang Bang; Way To Go.

Reviewed on: 01 Jun 2007
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Second half of the sixth season, sees Brass run into trouble. Out to own from June 4.
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