Directed by Oz Scott et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 885 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, 2.0 stereo Spanish
MSRP: $ 72.99
Release Date: September 22, 2008
Review Date: September 21, 2008
For the second year running, CBS’ CSI: NY has produced a season of episodes which far surpasses its two sibling dramas. Not that the shows are in competition with each other, but since they were all begun with the same basic formats, it’s been interesting to see how each one of the shows has progressed through the many years of each program’s run. CSI: Miami now is a total mess, often unwatchable except as a farce while the “mothership” version has simply begun to wind down with as many dud episodes as winners each season. The New York version of the show, on the other hand, has learned how to balance its procedural format (often following two different cases each week though they sometimes are revealed to be connected) with very light forays into the personal lives of the investigators. The personal stuff is adored by the actors, but it almost always gets in the way of the science and the surprise that these shows must have in abundance if they are to continue to thrive. Currently, CSI: NY is the most consistent performer of the trio.
The team remains intact during season four. The New York forensics unit is still headed by Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinese). Second-in-command Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes), former M.E. and now CSI Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper), and police detective Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) are all on the job as before. More frequent appearances are made in the lab this season by A. J. Buckley as CSI Adam Ross. Lindsay Monroe (Anna Belknap) and Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) began dating near the end of last season, but traumatic events occur during the season that put that relationship in jeopardy. Indeed, the season was not kind to the relationships of any of the CSIs who were bold enough to embark on them while suggested peeks into the love life of Flack at the start of the season weren‘t focused much at all later on during the strike-shortened season.
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. And there are two multi-episode story arcs that run for approximately half the season each. The first involving a stalker known as the “333 Caller” gets wrapped up by episode 10. A later long range story involving the “Cabbie Killer” goes all the way to the penultimate episode of the season, and then there is one final episode that ends with the usual season cliffhanger. All of the primary actors do very fine work this year, but Sinese, Kanakaredes, and Giovinazzo are given especially juicy dramatic material which they perform with great expertise moving far beyond. the routine questions and explanations that are part and parcel of the territory on a crime procedural.
Here is the list of episodes shown during season four of the program and collected on the set‘s six discs.
1 - Can You Hear Me Now
2 - The Deep
3 - You Only Die Once
4 - Time’s Up
5 - Down the Rabbit Hole (very unusual episode set in a virtual reality world)
6 - Boo (a Halloween episode; my favorite of the season)
7 - Commuted Sentences
8 - Buzzkill
9 - One Wedding and a Funeral
10 - The Thing About Heroes (a satisfying end to the “333 Caller” story)
11 - Child’s Play (the year’s most poignant episode)
12 - Happily Never After
13 - All in the Family
14 - Playing with Matches
15 - DOA for a Day
16 - Right Next Door (an excellent mystery)
17 - Like Water for Murder
18 - Admissions
19 - Personal Foul
20 - Taxi
21 - Hostage (a gripping season finale with some great twists)
The program is broadcast on CBS in 1080i, and these 480p down converted transfers really look terrific. Sharp, clean, and colorful images predominate with especially good black levels and excellent shadow detail. True, you’ll see some slight moiré in flyovers between scenes, but otherwise the picture repeats the previous high water mark of last season’s box set. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track seems identical to the broadcast version, and as such is one of the more exceptional audio tracks currently in use on network television. Fully immersive and involving, the fronts and rears are filled with ambient sounds of the lab and the outdoors and lots of music of varying styles. Occasionally the rears are a little overpowering somewhat overwhelming the dialog in the center channel. Otherwise, this is an exemplary track.
There is one audio commentary with creator-producer-writer Anthony Zuiker, episode 5 “Down the Rabbit Hole.” More a sales pitch for CBS’ Second Life virtual computer world (accessed through the CBS website) than an in-depth description on the making of the episode, it’s something of a disappointment, but Zuiker is wildly enthusiastic about this virtual reality world (it was subsequently used in episode 15 “DOA for a Day.”)
The four bonus featurettes are all presented in anamorphic widescreen.
“Art Imitates Second Life” is another CBS infomercial for its Second Life virtual reality website. It runs 15 ¼ minutes and repeats much of what Anthony Zuiker talked about in his audio commentary about the making of the episode “Down the Rabbit Hole.”
“Dante’s Infernal Episode” is a behind the scenes look at the making of episode 6 “Boo.” Film director Joe Dante was recruited to direct this episode which mixes stories similar to The Amityville Horror and Night of the Living Dead, and he‘s interviewed along with cast and crew for the episode. It runs 10 minutes.
“Art Attack” is a 4-minute interview with painter Clemente Bornacelli who contributed three paintings seen briefly at the beginning and end of episode 16 “Right Next Door.”
“Cutting to the Core: Season 4 in The Big Apple” is a 13 ½-minute summation of several of the big season events for the fourth year, everything from the Statue of Liberty murder that begins the season through the two long story arcs, and some information into the Danny-Lindsay romance. There are lots of spoilers here, so this featurette was properly placed on the last disc in the set.
There are previews of Dexter, Twin Peaks, the CSI franchise, Criminal Minds and Ghost Whisperer.
The fourth season of CSI: NY provided a variety of riveting mysteries solved through an ever-astounding array of scientific experimentation and conclusion. The set has a fair set of bonus features, but it does boast outstanding video and audio quality. Fans of the show will certainly enjoy the set.