CSI: NY - Season 1, Part 1

CSI: NY - Season 1, Part 1


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

This is the third change of venue since the franchise began. First there was Las Vegas and then Miami and now New York. You would have thought exhaustion might have set in by this stage, accompanied by cynicism and greed. Why bother finding good (expensive) actors and committed (pricey) writers when they could wing it with Class C substitutes? That's what they do in Hollywood after the second sequel.

The CSI crowd, led by Anthony Zuiker, Ann Donahue and Carol Mendelsohn, don't operate that way. They worry about detail and make certain that they have the best crews available. Enthusiasm and energy remains undiminished, despite shooting on tight budgets, sometimes all night. CSI: NY proves the point. It is gritty, urban and serious. The glossy sheen of Las Vegas and Miami has been replaced by a reality chip. These stories may be richly inventive, but their telling is as clean as a surgeon's knife.

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Much of the success can be attributed to Gary Sinise's leadership and performance. As Mac Taylor, head of the department, he is as far from the showboat styles of William Petersen and David Caruso as it is possible to be. Here is one of Chicago's finest actors digging deep into the psyche of an ex-Marine detective whose wife was killed on 9/11. Always in a suit and tie, quietly determined, totally dedicated, snatching four hours sleep a night if he's lucky, Mac sets an example that is not based on sex appeal, rather dogged, single-minded police work. He may not be a party animal - he doesn't drink and, you suspect, goes home to a cold bed - but treats his team with paternal care.

They, on the other hand, are impossibly attractive. Detective Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) is as tall as Mac, with fine, aquiline features and a mane of Medusa locks and legs designed for the catwalk. Detective 3rd Grade Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) is boyishly good looking with a smile that would melt Monrovia. Aiden Burn (Vanessa Ferlito), the junior member from Brooklyn, mid-twenties, with long black hair and an attitude that burns holes in a man's ego (at a crime scene to a NYPD detective: "Don't check out my ass when there's a kid dead in the street. Have some respect"), is film star material, however hard she tries to hide it. Dr Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper), the pathologist who examines the bodies is in perfect contrast to the emotionally connected Dr Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander) from Miami. His precision and knowledge is both professional and extensive. His catchphrase: "This caught my attention." NYPD homicide detective Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) is the gopher, the tough cop who pulls in the suspects, a no-nonsense New York hard hat with a good face and a lean frame.

The technical wizardry that tends to dominate in Las Vegas and Miami - they have smarter, bigger lab facilities - are more practical and understandable in NY. The episodes are beautifully written, often so clever you sit there with your jaw in your lap - catching the reflection of a killer's outline in the cornea of a sleepwalker, blow fish poison on the toes of a lap dancer, "There's no feeling on earth to watching the life draining out of an animal's eyes," serial killer's confession. The colour is muted, almost monochrome. The acting remains respectful, sliding in under the storylines, giving them body and strength. These, after all, are detective stories and solving them is an artform.

Reviewed on: 23 Oct 2005
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CSI: NY - Season 1, Part 1 packshot
New York gets its own grittier version of the crime scene invesigations.
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Director: Deran Sarafin, Rob Bailey, Alex Zakrzewski, David Grossman, Tim Hunter, Kevin Bray, Greg Yaitanes

Writer: Anthony E Zuiker, Pam Veasey, Eli Talbert, Zachary Reiter, Andrew Lipsitz, Timothy J Lea, Janet Tamaro

Starring: Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, Carmine Giovinazzo, Vanessa Ferlito, Hill Harper, Eddie Cahill, Sonya Walger, Chad Lindberg, J Grant Albrecht, Ron Yuan, Denice J Sealy

Year: 2004

Runtime: 540 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US/Canada


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CSI: NY - Season 1, Part 2