The Crime Scene Investigation franchise - Las Vegas, Miami, New York - is exceptional in one regard. It doesn't simply maintain high standards; it improves on them each season.

Miami was where David Caruso ended up, having departed NYPD Blue after a successful first season and failed to make it as a movie star. He could have walked into the role of Horatio Caine with the nonchalant ease of Tom Selleck picking up a paycheck, but he didn't. He took it seriously and now his presence dominates the show.

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His style is uniquely his own, extenuated to the point of parody and yet addictive, like watching Bruce Forsyth and waiting for the catch phrases, except Caruso is nothing like Brucie. Humour is not his thing. Intensity, repressed passion, determination, mixed with styalised gestures - hands on hips, delicate four-finger technique with sunglasses, legs apart in Sheriff of Dodge pose, softly spoken, head on one side, eyes diverted, few words perfectly chosen with pauses between so wide you could drive a bus through them - is his signature and, at first, it looks so theatrical in a detective cop show, where macho banter rules, that you want to laugh. It doesn't take long to realise that this is what entertainment means in television terms, creating a character who is instantly recognisable and sympathetic, with physical trademarks and emotional integrity. Caruso is so good at this, you don't notice (or care) how small he is. When he smiles, which is rare, he touches you.

The plotlines in this new season are more intricate, clever and satisfying than before. The A and B story formula has more or less been abandoned, in favour of an intricate case study per episode, which concentrates the mind.

Things are never as they seem. The gang war scenario in Shootout turns into something entirely more domestic. The absorbing After The Fall has nothing to do with an accidental death and everything to do with the corruption of power. A suspected case of mass murder and boatjacking in Pirated has a darker, racist element ("When did Miami become a foreign country? You walk six blocks and never hear the English language"). The distressed, elegant woman, who throws herself in front of a bus in Under The Influence, may have been the victim of a female stalker. Or yet again, may not.

"What do I do now?" the prime suspect asks.

"You. Do nothing," Caine says. "You wait. Until you see. What we do."

And what they do is done with precision.

As ships go, this one is tight. As series go, it takes some beating.

Reviewed on: 29 May 2006
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CSI: Miami 3.1 packshot
The plots are cleverer and the production values higher, as Horatio Caine and his team solve multifaceted mysteries in Miami.
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Director: various

Writer: various

Starring: David Caruso, Emily Procter, Adam Rodriguez, Khandi Alexander, Sofia Milos, Jonathan Togo

Year: 2004

Runtime: 524 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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