Directed by Duane Clark et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 1019 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, 2.0 Spanish
Release Date: October 9, 2007
Review Date: October 6, 2007
The three CSI programs on CBS currently constitute the most successful (ratings-wise) franchise on network television. Of the three, the newest CSI: NY has always been given the least respect despite having two charismatic stars in the leading roles and a writing staff that continues to churn out top-notch forensic-based mysteries by the dozens. In my mind, however, during the 2006-2007 season, CSI: NY was the best of the three CSI series. Unlike the Las Vegas and Miami incarnations, CSI NY stayed grounded in what the series does best: mysteries solved by using honest detective work paired with solid forensic science leading to amazing solutions to seemingly baffling cases. Yes, there were shards of the personal lives of the leading scientists woven through the season’s 24 episodes, but unlike the other two CSI programs, the series’ equilibrium was not disturbed by having the characters “feeding on themselves” to the detriment of the core investigations. CSI: NY provided riveting mysteries solved through an ever-astounding variety of scientific experimentation and conclusion.
The team remained intact during season three. The New York forensics unit is still headed by Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinese) who during this season embarked on a romantic relationship with one of the medical examiners (Claire Forlani) and also connected with his late wife‘s son. Co-star Anna Belknap took maternity leave during part of the season (under the pretext of going back to Montana on a case; the actress’ character Lindsay Monroe was not pregnant), but Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) continued his slow pursuit of her affections. Second-in-command Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes), former M.E. and now CSI Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper), and police detective Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) each endured on-the-job trauma during the course of the season. Among the guest stars for the season were Marlee Matlin, Sasha Cohen, John McEnroe, Edward Furlong, Joey Lawrence, and Judd Nelson.
Despite the intrusion into the series of bits from the personal lives of the characters, the focus was (as it should be) on the murder cases, and this year provided some real eye-openers. Most weeks featured two distinct cases which would split the team in two though occasionally one case was so complex that the entire team would be assigned to work it. As with all CSI shows, the graphic inserts that microscopically detail the science being discussed are a large part of what gives the franchise its “wow“ appeal (especially when viewed in high definition).
I can’t say that I found Sinese and Forlani a compelling romantic duo (and I don‘t find her a very convincing actress; he‘s always marvelous), but several episodes really allowed Kanakaredes, Giovinazzo, and Cahill acting opportunities beyond the routine questions and explanations that are part and parcel of the territory on a crime procedural.
Here is the list of episodes for the 2006-2007 season. An asterisk (*) marks those episodes which have commentaries. The participants’ names are in parentheses.
1 - People With Money
*2 - Not What It Looks Like (Pam Veasey, Peter Lenkov, Duane Clark)
3 - Love Run Cold
4 - Hung Out to Dry
*5 - Oedipus Rex (Anthony Zuiker, Missy Suicide)
6 - Open and Shut
7 - Murder Sings the Blues
*8 - Consequences (Pam Veasey, Eddie Cahill)
9 - And Here’s to You, Mrs. Azrael
10 - Sweet 16
11 - Raising Shane
*12 - Silent Night (Peter Lenkov, Sam Humphrey): the best episode of the season
13 - Obsession
14 - The Lying Game
15 - Some Buried Bones
16 - Heart of Glass
17 - The Ride-In
18 - Sleight Out of Hand
19 - A Daze of Wine and Roaches
20 - What Schemes May Come
21 - Past Imperfect
22 - Cold Reveal
23 - …Comes Around
24 - Snow Day : a superb season finale
The series is broadcast on CBS in 1080i, and the down converted 480p images are on the whole very striking. Color is deeply saturated, and the image is usually very sharp often appearing near-high definition in quality. There is occasional grain present, and momentary aliasing does occur but doesn’t really distract. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is surprisingly active throughout each episode. Even if it’s just ambient chatter in the background or a beeping phone or machine, the rears contain almost a constant stream of activity, and car engines often pan across the rears or from back to front to impressive effect. Occasionally the rock soundtrack is too loud drowning out voices in the center channel, but generally speaking, the dialog is easily discerned.
Four episodes contain audio commentaries (see above episode list for specifics), but the first and last, neither of which contain actors as part of the commentating team, are by far the most enjoyable as the writers and/or director talk about the specific problems they had in preparing the episode and don‘t waste a lot of time stroking the egos of the actors present. Each also points out continuity problems that a rushed production schedule made impossible to fix.
Instead of piling the bonus featurettes on the final disc of the set, Paramount has thoughtfully placed the episode-specific featurettes on the discs where the episodes appear. It’s irritating, however, that these features are all presented in nonanamorphic letterbox and clips from the episodes are 4:3 clips rather than the widescreen versions anamorphically enhanced.
Disc one has “Breaking the Killer Code” which deals with the mythological basis for the plot in episode 4 and features interviews with the regular cast and guest star Edward Furlong. This feature runs 12 minutes.
Disc two offers “The Suicide Girls Rock CSI: NY.” Show creator Anthony Zuiker saw the Suicide Girls and flipped over them, so he personally wrote the episode in which they could be featured. This 11 minute featurette introduces us to all of the members of the troop who performed on episode 5.
Disc three presents “The Making of ‘Silent Night.’” This 8-minute feature contains interviews with episode 12’s two main guest stars, Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin and Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen.
Disc six features “The Body Farm” in which co-star Hill Harper gives us a tour of the actual University of Tennessee forensic body farm whose donations have more than doubled since the CSI shows have started focusing on the work and study that goes on there. This 21½-minute feature contains a disclaimer warning the viewer of the graphic remains that will be featured in this fascinating documentary.
The set also comes with CSI: Hard Evidence, a playable PC game demo of the latest CSI-based computer software game. I didn’t load and attempt to play the demo, but it’s for PCs that run either Windows XP, 2000, or Vista.
Previews of current or upcoming CBS/Paramount DVD sets including the CSIs, Criminal Minds, Ghost Whisperer, Twin Peaks, and Dexter are on disc one.
CSI: NY has finally come into its own providing strong mysteries and a solid cast of characters whose lives have been given some heft and interest. This 6-disc set of its third season presents the show in its best possible light, apart from a high definition release, that is.