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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: CSI CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION THE FIRST SEASON

TV Reviews

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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Timothy E

Timothy E

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Posted June 25 2009 - 08:44 AM

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Studio: Paramount
Year: 2000-2001
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 17 hours, 6 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish


Release Date: May 12, 2009

The Series
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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation premiered at 9:00 p.m. on October 6, 2000, on the CBS television network. The series was an immediate success, and in the last 9 years CSI has spawned many imitators on CBS and other networks, as well as 2 different spinoff series, CSI: Miami and CSI: New York. Most of the procedural crime dramas on television today are influenced stylistically or otherwise by the original CSI.

The first season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation introduces us to the forensic scientists of the night shift at the Las Vegas Police Department crime lab. Gil Grissom (William Petersen) is the eccentric but brilliant head of the night shift. The assistant night shift supervisor in season one is
Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), a single mom who worked her way through college as an exotic dancer. Nick Stokes (George Eads), a former college baseball player from Texas, now a crime scene investigator, is competing for a promotion against Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan), an audio-video analyst who is also a recovering gambling addict. Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) is a newcomer to the Las Vegas crime lab after working at the crime lab in San Francisco. The crime lab scientists are aided in their investigations by homicide detective Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) and chief medical examiner Doctor Al Robbins (Robert David Hall).

Although the series characters are all well delineated, the most interesting facets of each episode are the crimes themselves and the unique ways in which these mysteries are solved. As with many procedural crime dramas, although there is some continuity of story between episodes, most crimes on CSI are solved in an hour including commercials. Although CSI has received criticism for this cliche of solving most mysteries in an hour or less, this is a dramatic licence of which most television crime shows are guilty. Fortunately, the style of execution of this cliche is superior in CSI to most other procedural crime dramas, and CSI does this better than any of its imitators.

This Blu-Ray edition of season 1 marks the first time that these episodes have been available on home video in their original 1.78:1 screen aspect ratio. CBS was still broadcasting shows in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio during the 2000-2001 television season, even though CSI was being filmed from its inception in the widescreen 1.78:1 ratio. The standard DVD set of CSI Season One, released in 2003, included episodes only in the 1.33:1 format in which the episodes aired in their original network run. (Beginning with Season Two, DVD season sets of CSI have been released in the 1.78:1 format.) The studio has no plans to release Season One on DVD in this widescreen format so this Blu-Ray set is the only way to own all of the first season in 1.78:1 format. This set contains all 23 episodes of CSI from the 2000-2001 season as well as the unaired director’s cut of the pilot episode.

The first season of CSI includes one of its most memorable and acclaimed episodes, Unfriendly Skies (airdate December 8, 2000). This episode was selected by TV Guide in 2001 as one of the 10 best television episodes for the entire season. Among the guest stars in season one who became bigger names later include Dakota Fanning and Rainn Wilson(The Office).

Video
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This set is touted as the “Special Widescreen Edition” and the episodes definitely benefit from being displayed in the 1.78:1 screen aspect ratio. The wider screen format opens up the view and lends itself to a more immersive experience. The episodes were obviously framed originally in the 16 X 9 widescreen format with an eye towards panning or cutting the framing to fit the broadcasting aspect ratio from 2000 through 2001. All of the episodes, including the unaired director’s cut of the pilot, are in 1080i HD. It is mystifying that this set is interlaced rather than progressive scan. Nonetheless, details are extremely sharp without any signs of DNR or edge enhancement. An appropriate amount of film grain is present and the presentation preserves the over-saturated appearance of the original episodes consistent with the producers’ intent.

Most of the deleted scenes are presented in 480p as noted in the comments on the special features below.

Audio
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The DTS HD 7.1 surround sound track puts the viewer in the middle of things with ambient sounds, whether they be city traffic, gunshots, or slot machines. Most audio comes through front and center with minor enhancement from the rear speakers for incidental sounds of traffic and the like. The Spanish soundtrack is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Special Features
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The special features are spread out among all 5 discs in this set. The special features are as follows:

Unaired Director’s Cut of the Pilot (Disc 1): This includes an optional commentary provided by series writer/producer/director Danny Cannon. There are also a couple of deleted scenes from the pilot viewable separately with optional commentary. These deleted scenes are in HD widescreen format, whereas the remainder of the deleted scenes in this set are displayed in standard definition 1.33:1 aspect ratio.

Deleted Scenes: The deleted scenes are spread out through the discs so that the scenes are viewable on the same disc having the episode from which the scenes were deleted. Unfortunately, the deleted scenes are displayed in standard definition 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with the exception of the pilot episode’s deleted scenes, which are in 1080i widescreen (1.78:1) format.

Series Promos: CBS network commercials for CSI linked on the BD menu with the specific episode. In addition, disc 5 has a number of generic CBS network commercials that are not specific to any single episode. These promos are all in standard definition in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio consistent with their original airing on the CBS television network.

Gag Reel(3:53): Several minutes of line flubs and mistakes by the cast members in standard definition.

CSI - People Lie... But The Evidence Never Does (19:11): Overview of the series with interviews of cast members in 480p format. This extra was also part of the 2003 DVD release of season one.

CSI Season One - Rediscovering The Evidence (27:54): This overview of the series with cast interviews is new to this set and is displayed in 1080i format.

Star Trek: The Original Series on Blu-Ray trailer: This trailer comes up automatically at the beginning of disc 1 and is also accessible from the BD menu.

These Blu-Ray discs are BD Live compatible to allow downloads from the Paramount server.

Conclusion
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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was the first and is arguably the best of all of the crime dramas that have aired on television in the last 10 years. After all of this time, the first season of CSI holds up surprisingly well without seeming dated. The quality of this show was inherent from its beginning so it is little surprise that it became a hit show with multiple spinoffs and imitators. In spite of the interlaced format of these Blu-Ray discs, the video and audio quality is sublime. It is unfortunate that many of the special features are not offered in high definition, although it is understandable at least regarding the network promos which have only existed in standard definition. A couple of the special features from the 2003 DVD release have not been ported over to this BD release: A music video of the theme song “Who Are You?” by the Who set to video clips from the series is missing here, as are the character profiles text feature from the earlier set. This “Special Widescreen Edition” is recommended to fans of the series since the widescreen format enhances the entertainment value of these episodes. Collectors of the standard DVD sets will be annoyed that this widescreen edition is not also being released on DVD.

#2 of 3 OFFLINE   Todd Erwin

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Posted June 26 2009 - 04:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy E
All of the episodes, including the unaired director’s cut of the pilot, are in 1080i HD. It is mystifying that this set is interlaced rather than progressive scan.

It is very likely due to the episodes being originally rendered in 1080i for broadcast on CBS, with no thought at the time for a 1080p home video release. I think Anchor Bay gave this as the reason for the Blu-ray editions of "Masters of Horror" being 1080i rather than 1080p.

I got a real chuckle earlier in the week when I watched "Howard the Duck" for the first time in years and realized that Paul Guilfoyle was in it. Posted Image

#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Nicholas Martin

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Posted June 26 2009 - 12:52 PM

When I picked up the delayed Canadian release I expected it to be slightly different, but instead the delay was simply to put the Alliance logo where the Paramount logo would be on the packaging. I'd been looking forward to this more than anything lately, and that they added the original episode promos is icing on the cake, since I love that sort of thing.

It even has a shiny slipcover. Posted Image