DVD Review HTF DVD Review: CSI: Miami - The Fifth Season

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt Hough, Oct 29, 2007.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer

    Apr 24, 2006
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    Charlotte, NC
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    Matt Hough
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    CSI: Miami - The Fifth Season
    Directed by Joe Chapple et al

    Studio: Paramount
    Year: 2006-2007
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
    Running Time: 1048 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, 2.0 stereo Spanish
    Subtitles: CC
    MSRP: $64.99

    Release Date: October 30, 2007
    Review Date: October 29, 2007

    The Series


    The producers of CSI: Miami made some serious mistakes in their fifth season on the air. In trying to stir the waters and give each of the actors something meaty to play, scenarios were invented for each of them which did add drama to the mix, but (especially in the case of one character) compromised the very foundation of that character’s spirit and persona. Though the season contained a fair share of surprising and tension-filled episodes, a sour taste remained at the end of the season for at least this viewer.

    Lead criminalist Horatio Caine (David Caruso) remains in charge of the crime lab with second in command Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter) still the most grounded and conscientious of the subordinates. Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) and Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo) are still going at their not always friendly rivalry for bragging rights within the lab. Joining the investigators now in the field is Natalia Boa Vista (Eva La Rue), who was identified at the end of season four as the interdepartmental mole sending confidential information to internal affairs about the lapses in procedure and protocol at the lab. Also joining the series as a regular in season five is Frank Tripp (Rex Linn) who had been the regular lead detective on cases since Sofia Milos left the series at the end of season three.

    The season was a difficult one for both Delko and Wolfe. Delko is shot and seriously hurt, his head injury causing him some chronic problems which occasionally intruded on his effectiveness as an investigator. But the series’ low point was the problem the writing staff foisted on Ryan Wolfe, a plot machination so absurd and so counter to his rigid by-the-numbers persona introduced in season three that it ruined the last few episodes of the season for me (it was set up early in the season and then came back in the latter three episodes). Brighter was the beginning of a legitimate romance for Calleigh, something that she hadn’t had since both a police detective and a federal treasury agent individually let her down.

    The season premiere didn’t get things started off on a proper note either as Caine and Delko formed a two man vigilante squad traveling to Rio and seeking out the criminal who had murdered Caine’s wife and Delko’s sister. One could easily understand their grief and anger, but sworn lawmen, heroes of one of CBS’ highest rated procedurals, throwing out the rule book and stopping at nothing to fulfill their blood vengeance? Not cool. However, fans of David Caruso’s posing, quip-clipped acting style will be delighted to learn that he’s only gotten more mannered and deliberate in his eccentric take on Horatio Caine.

    Here is the list of the season’s twenty-four episodes. Note that they are in the order of broadcast (with corresponding out-of-chronology numberings). An asterisk (*) notes an episode with a commentary track. Names in parentheses denote the participants in the commentary.

    *1 - Rio (Sam Hill, Sunil Nayar, Brian O’Neill)
    4 - Going Under
    *3 - Death Pool 100 (Sam Hill, Adam Rodriguez, Carey Meyer)
    2 - If Looks Could Kill
    *5 - Death Eminent (Jonathan Togo, Corey Miller, Larry Detweiler)
    6 - Curse of the Coffin
    8 - High Octane
    *7 - Darkroom (Eva La Rue, John Haynes)
    9 - Going, Going, Gone
    10 - Come as You Are
    11 - Backstabbers
    12 - Internal Affairs
    13 - Throwing Heat
    14 - No Man’s Land
    *15 - Man Down (Karen Gaviola, Gonzalo Menendez)
    16 - Broken Home
    17 - A Grizzly Murder
    18 - Triple Threat
    19 - Bloodline
    20 - Rush
    21 - Just Murdered
    22 - Burned
    23 - Kill Switch
    24 - Born to Kill

    Video Quality


    The show is broadcast on CBS in 1080i, and this 480p down conversion of the broadcast is what is contained in this set. CSI: Miami has the most individualistic look on television: hyper-saturated color, blazing contrast, and brightness to an almost eye-searing degree. This standard definition release comes as close as non-high def material can in capturing this very intense, über-colorful image. With that vibrancy, however, comes problems. Sharpness is all over the place, sometimes beautifully sharp and three dimensional and sometimes soft and flat. The frequent flyovers and fly-bys often result in aliasing and moiré patterns jumping out at the viewer. There is edge enhancement in highly contrasted images. Still, these DVDs come closer than any other standard definition DVD set I’ve reviewed in the last three months to capturing what I routinely see in high definition at home. Each episode has been divided into 5 chapters with the exception of the season premiere which has 7 chapters.

    Audio Quality


    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack very accurately conveys the at-home audio experience from the CBS broadcasts. The series’ music score, a mix of heavy salsa and hip-hop rhythms, blares full and loud through the fronts and rears (sometimes too loud overpowering dialog in the center). There is more than adequate bass represented, and occasionally (though not often enough for such an action oriented series) the rears get used for whizzing bullets, zooming cars in high speed pursuits, and other panning sounds.

    Special Features


    Five episodes contain audio commentary with selected actors, writers, producers, and directors (see specifics in the episode list above). Except for the last commentary which contains several long silences, the commentaries are lively and informative. The season premiere talk, which doesn’t have any actors present in the room, is the best as the ego-stroking can be set aside and information of the actual filming of the episode can be given.

    The five featurettes presented in this year’s set are all in a mix of nonanamorphic widescreen and 4:3 clips from the shows. As has been the case with all of the Paramount TV-DVD sets I’ve reviewed, it seems silly that an anamorphic TV package doesn’t have its bonus features also done in anamorphic video. The featurettes are also spread out among the six discs that make up the set rather than all being crammed onto one disc.

    “Rio Grand: CSI: Miami Goes to Rio” is just what the title implies: an 8-minute overview of the location film work that went into the season premiere. The running commentary for episode 1 gives much more information, but this featurette does allow the viewer to hear actor David Caruso speaking in his own natural voice rather than the guttural utterance style he affects for the show.

    “If Looks Could Kill: Special F/X Makeup” is a very interesting 13-minute chat with both the makeup and special effects directors on the show, both of whom explain their jobs in giving the corpses, the injured, and the survivors the looks they need to make the crimes on the show believable. We’re also shown some models that are used in filming the graphic insert shots when objects penetrate the bodies on the show.

    “Turning Up the Heat: The Look of CSI: Miamigives us 9 minutes with the art director, the production designer, and the colorist, all of whom contribute to the show’s highly stylized candy color motif on the show.

    “Dressing the Part” is the least interesting of the featurettes. It’s a 5½-minute interview with the show’s costume designer as she explains her choices for the looks of four of the show’s stars this season.

    The longest of the set’s featurettes is “The Real MDPD” which features co-star Jonathan Togo visiting the actual Miami-Dade Police Department and exploring various departments (which, of course, look nothing like their network TV counterparts). He interviews workers in the evidence lab, the DNA lab, the ballistic unit, the marine patrol unit, and the Special Response Team (Miami’s version of SWAT). It’s an engaging 25-minute tour of the real-life setting where actual crimes get investigated and solved.

    The set contains the usual promotional trailers for other Paramount series including Twin Peaks, Criminal Minds, Ghost Whisperer, and Dexter, among others.

    In Conclusion

    4/5 (not an average)

    CSI: Miami didn’t have its greatest season in its fifth year, but there are enough entertaining and surprising episodes present to make the set a must-have for fans of the show.

    Matt Hough
    Charlotte, NC
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    Oct 21, 2007
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