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HTF REVIEW: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Second Season (1 Viewer)

Scott Kimball

May 8, 2000

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Second Season

Studio: Paramount

Year: 2001 - 2002

Rated: NR

Length: 16 hrs 45 min

Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen

English 5.1, Spanish 2.0

Release Date: September 2

CSI is a rarity. It's a show that isn't dumbed down for the lowest-common-demonator, yet it manages to be popular enough to keep it on the air. It's a one-trick pony of a show with a "trick" that is so compelling, it keeps you wanting more. It's "Dragnet with personality" meets "Quincy without a cause."

To be honest with you, I had never seen CSI until I received this set to review. You see, I've almost given up on network television. It is so rare to see a show with smarts. We have all the attitude we can handle on TV these days, but intelligence is sorely lacking. When reality shows make the headlines and are touted as the shows to watch, one assumes that's the best that the networks have to offer. Once in a while, though, they sneak in a gem like CSI.

The show follows a forensics team in Las Vegas as they use their particular brand of science to solve crimes. It's as simple as that. No personal dramas distract us from the meat of the show. We follow the investigators around the crime scenes and in the labs. We watch them as they investigate. We don't follow them to bed at night. The show uses humor to great effect, offsetting the seriousness of the subject matter.

The team is led by Gil Grissom (William Petersen) - a scientist who uses intuition, as well as science (and dogged determination) to do his job. Petersen consistently turns in a low-key, witty and believable performance, and he is backed up by an excellent cast, including Marg Helgenberger, Jorja Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, George Ead and others.

The show isn't afraid of making an occasional twist or turn, occasionally going so far as to conclude, after a lengthy investigation, that no crime was ever committed. This sort of thing is decidedly uncharacteristic of network fare. CSI pulls no punches, and it consistently delivers solid, smart entertainment. Of the episodes I have watched, Chaos Theory, Caged and Anatomy of a Lye are particular standounts, though none of these episodes are likely to disappoint.

I'm basing this review on only about eight episodes, so I'm sure there are people reading this who could do better than I when it comes to describing the tenor and history of the show. Let me just say this: if you like the "investigative cop show" genre, you have a sense of humor, and you like a good mystery - this show is for you.

Disc 1
Episode 201: Burked *
Episode 202: Chaos Theory
Episode 203: Overload
Episode 204: Bully for You

Disc 2
Episode 205: Scuba Doobie-Doo
Episode 206: Alter Boys *
Episode 207: Caged
Episode 208: Slaves of Las Vegas

Disc 3
Episode 209: And Then There Were None
Episode 210: Ellie *
Episode 211: Organ Grinder
Episode 212: You've Got Male

Disc 4
Episode 213: Identity Crisis
Episode 214: The Finger
Episode 215: Burden of Proof
Episode 216: Primum Non Nocere

Disc 5
Episode 217: Felonious Monk
Episode 218: Chasing the Bus
Episode 219: Stalker
Episode 220: Cats in the Cradle...

Disc 6
Episode 221: Anatomy of a Lye
Episode 222: Cross-Jurisdictions
Episode 223: The Hunger Artist
Special Features

(* Commentary included on this episode)

The Video

CSI: Season Two is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The picture is generally high in contrast, mostly due to the stylized, theatrical lighting. Theatrical style lighting is frequently used to indicate the strong desert sunshine - we frequently see lots of strong backlighting. The image is very sharp, and it appears that there may be some very mild artificial sharpening present - though this is only visible in a few low contrast scenes on my 32" monitor. Generally, sharpening artifacts are invisible. Some fine grain is present in darker scenes, though it appears to be accurately transferred from the original elements, not introduced as digital noise during the transfer. There is no evidence of the high-frequency filtering that is often seen with TV-on-DVD. The colors are beautifully saturated, showing off the Vegas Strip every time you see it in the background.

This is quality stuff as far as TV product is concerned. I dare say there are a number of feature films in my collection that could have benefitted from the care that went into this transfer. I've seen very little television product on DVD that looks this good.

The Audio

The Dolby Digital soundtrack really pops. I was surprised at the agressiveness of the mix, given what we usually get from TV product. Dialog is clear and full-bodied, without being bass-heavy - and it is firmly anchored in the center channel. The music makes use of a wide range of frequencies, and expands to fill the front soundstage. Surrounds are very active with ambient noise, even in hallways and offices. Telephones ring behind you and off to the side. Equipment beeps are heard from where we know the equipment is located in the room. Low Frequency Effects are present, but you'll hear more activity from your subwoofer when the music plays.

Special Features

CSI: Season Two includes a host of special features.

Episode 201: Burked: Commentary by Anthony Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn and Danny Cannon
I only had time to listen to one commentary, and I chose "Burked," figuring there might be more of interest since it is the season premiere. The commentary is very laid-back and straight-forward. We learn a bit about research and writing processes, effects shots, and the mechanics of directing what seem like simple scenes - but turn out to be logistically challenging. We hear anecdotes about events on the set, and how the actors work. There's nothing earth-shattering, here. Informative... mildly interesting, but hardly compelling.
Episode 206: Alter Boys: Commentary by Ann Donahue and Danny Cannon
Episode 210: Ellie: Commentary by Anothony Zuiker and Gary Dourdan

I would like to have seen some commentary by William Petersen or Marg Helgenberger.

Makeup, Music & Special Effects (09:55)
Here we see the process of creating a corpse for "Anatomy of a Lye." We sit in on a recording session with composer John Keane. Finally, we go to Stargate Films and watch the filming of some of CSI's trademark effects scenes.
CSI Shooting Locations (06:27)
An interview with Paul Wilson, location manager. We learn how locations are found, and how California locations often double for Las Vegas. We are also told of the several days per year that shooting is done on-location in Las Vegas - on the strip, in the casinos, and in the surrounding desert and mountains.
The CSI Tour (08:33)
Richard Berg, production designer, takes us on a tour of the CSI set. We see how Grissom's office is "dressed." We learn about the importance of the layout, the paint color and the glass walls at the CSI labs. We tour each of the major offices and labs, and the major set-pieces in each.
Tools of the Trade
This isn't really a featurette... it's more of an interactive tour of the lab equipment at CSI. You choose from the DNA Lab, Ballistics Lab, and Trace Fingerprint Lab. Once you make your selection, you are presented with still shots of the lab. You highlight a piece of equipment and select it - and Technical Advisor Elizabeth Devine explains what the equipment is, and how it is used in real-world situations.
The Making of a Hit (11:37)
Jerry Bruckheimer, Anthony Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn, Danny Cannon, and Ann Donahue talk about the making of CSI, and what has made CSI a hit. We learn that most of the stories are drawn from the news. We learn of the dramatic license often taken (no, DNA can't be processed in two or three hours), but we are told that the technology and science is real (if not embellished). We learn about the development of the Grissom character, and the evolution of the show over season two.

The special features are fullscreen.

Final Thoughts

CSI is a wonderful, intelligent show. The CSI: Season Two disc set is a terrific set with a nice transfer and some interesting special features (though the show itself is far more interesting than the behind-the-scenes stuff presented). If you're looking for some good entertainment, CSI is well worth investigating.

Eric F

Sep 5, 1999
Nice review thanks.

CSI is a good show, but I have to wonder why they released the first season in 4:3? They obviously realized their mistake and I'm glad they resolved it- but after watching on CBS-HD all this time, I can't go back.

It would be nice if they reissued S1 in 16:9, but I don't expect it. Since I'm a completest I won't be purchasing any of them. Oh well, plenty else to buy...

Dane Marvin

Jul 21, 2003
Thanks for the review. I would also like to see cast commentaries from Marg Helgenberger and William Peterson, but Gary Dourdan will have to do this time out. I'm looking forward to this one, as the first season blew me away. I just wish Paramount's price would compete with fellow one-hour drama titles NYPD Blue and ER.

Joel C

Oct 23, 1999
I've never been a huge fan of C.S.I. simply because I prefer more character-based drama (rather than stand-alone cases). But it always annoys me when people say they've given up on TV because all the shows are stupid, but they'll praise a "gem" like C.S.I. Or 24. Or The West Wing. Or Alias. Or Gilmore Girls. Or Friends. Or The Simpsons. Or E. R. Or...

The point is, the good-to-bad ratio for TV is roughly the same as it is for movies or books. Yeah, Joe Millionaire was lowest common denominator stuff, but didn't Just Married top the box office for weeks?

People who don't like TV because they think all of it is terrible simply don't watch enough to have an informed opinion.

Kenneth Cummings

Supporting Actor
Aug 7, 2001
I going to get to this dvd, but it will take time as I am yet to buy the first season because of the 65 dollar price tag. Thanks for the good review on this series.

Tony Scello

Second Unit
Sep 8, 1999
Thanks for the great review. I very much enjoyed Season One but it sounds like Paramount really stepped it up a notch with Season Two. Anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround and additional bonus materials make this a no-brainer purchase for me. This is just a wonderfully compelling TV show with high production values that deserves the best video/audio presentation. Bring on September 2nd!


Second Unit
Feb 12, 2002
Real Name
Jeanette Howard
Nice review. I rarely buy "TV-based" DVDs, yet CSI and Sex and the City are the exceptions for me. Will buy every season, every time. Yeah, it would have been fitting for the first season of CSI to have been released in widescreen (OAR), but I won't allow THAT STUPID DECISION to dampen my enjoyment of the show.

I'll be the first in line for Season Two!

David Brent

Stunt Coordinator
May 21, 2002
Great review of a very attractive set, and nice to see a reference to CSI's antecedent, Quincy.

The adventures of Jack Klugman's irascible coronor are repeated in an endless loop on the UK's main TV channels but still remain incredibly enjoyable and popular.

Surely the success of CSI and its ableit inferior spin-off should prompt Universal to release season sets of this trailblazing forensic detective show on DVD?

Still, looking forward to getting my hands on CSI S2, in the assumption that the Canadian release is identical?


Scott Kimball

May 8, 2000
The point is, the good-to-bad ratio for TV is roughly the same as it is for movies or books. Yeah, Joe Millionaire was lowest common denominator stuff, but didn't Just Married top the box office for weeks?
I can't argue with you there... but that doesn't refute my point.
Just because we accept that the noise-to-signal ratio with regard to quality television programming, good cinema, or a good read is so high, doesn't mean we SHOULD accept it. I'm sorry, but when "Survivor" was on (the first time), the ending made front-page news, above the fold, on many major U.S. newspapers. And this is for typical trash television (okay... I should reserve such harsh words, because I never tuned in... but I'm not going to).

If the GOOD shows, like CSI, 24... and the SMALL handful of others in whatever genre floats your boat, were promoted as heavily as the trash that's cheap to produce and so is less risky, viewership of these shows may rise - and we would all benefit.

I won't watch a show or movie, or read a book, if I.Q. points are going to drip out of my ears as a result. I refuse. It is very scary to me that a show like The Osbournes (never watched it, never will) - which is insulting, degrading, and just plain SAD - can have such a following. My guess is people watch it for the same reason they crane their necks when driving by a car accident.

And while people are craning their necks to watch the car-wreck that is today's average television program, another quality show gets bumped off the air.

This turned into more of a rant than I expected.
Of course, we're all entitled to our opinion, and I respect the opinions of others - whether or not I agree. ;)


Second Unit
Oct 7, 2001
Good Review Scott. I just started getting into CSI recently when I catch it on here or there. Its a great show.

Greg S

Supporting Actor
Mar 13, 2000
CSI is a great show. I got into about 4 months (or longer ago) when they started with Season 1 reruns on TNN (spike TV now) and got hooked. I have Season 1 and began watching it last night (finally got the time) and its great!!

The debate on the 4:3 issue for the first season has been beaten to death on all the forums. The end result is that "supposedly" the first season was meant to be in 4:3 all other seasons are to be widescreen. This is simply what I have heard so decide for yourself!!

In reference to TV shows being bad some are some aren't!!

Personally I collect the following "current shows" -- 24,CSI, Alias (will be soon), Sex in the City, and the Sopranos. My wife is all over Friends, Buffy, Angel, Mad About You, and Felicity.

Other than that I can think of only the Star Trek Series (all but Enterprise), Battlestar Galactica, Married w/Children, JAG, NewsRadio, and Spin City TV Shows I would like on DVD.

Oh and would be in line at any store to get American Choppers, Monster Garage, & Monster House on DVD!!! I love these shows!!

Anyway thanks for the review on CSI - I am ready for this but 24 Season 2 comes FIRST!!



Stunt Coordinator
Jun 21, 2002
Real Name
Felix Wieme
Promising review, thanks for the effort !

If I'm not mistaken, there are no subtitles present ?
Sad, because the German release doesn't include subtitles either. And I need them badly because many of the actors mumble a lot :) I didn't mean this show, just in general !


Feb 7, 2003
I've never been a huge fan of C.S.I. simply because I prefer more character-based drama (rather than stand-alone cases. But it always annoys me when people say they've given up on TV because all the shows are stupid.
Sorry to say Joel but most of the TV shows on TV today are stupid. Take a look at any line up, Race for the Money, Joe Millionare, Fear Factor (tho this is a guilty pleasure for me) rot the air waves. Infact most of the character driven TV is on HBO or other cable stations, which many people can't afford.

So its nice that once in a while, something comes along that not only puts regular TV to shame (Like 24, or CSI) but also puts a lot of Cable programming to shame.

However, it is also your opionion, and you are entitled to it.

Steve Ridges

Stunt Coordinator
Jul 26, 2000
I'm a fan of CSI but one thing is really starting to bother me. Have these people ever heard of a light switch?!? I swear, everything is done in the dark. They collect evidence in the dark. They search homes in the dark. Even in the lab, the lights are off. I've seen them in a dark lab looking at photos...not slides...on a back lit table. TURN ON THE STINKING LIGHTS!! The Maglite company must be one of their major sponsors.
Jan 11, 2001
to say CSI is not a character driven drama sells it short. i love watching CSI when i have the time and i have to say that when compared to a show like ER or NYPD Blue, it provides the viewer with character information in a much slower manner. watch the entire season and tell me you don't start to identify with the characters in a way you would with ER. subtle plot lines like Grissum's degenrative hearing loss, Catherine's rocky relationship with her ex husband, Warrick dealing with being a recovering gambling addict (in Vegas no less) or Sara's relationship problems or lack thereof are fleshed out over the entire season in little tidbits here and there. the writers make sure that the crimes play the major role of each episode, but they also throw us a bone or two in each one as well to help learn and to identify with the characters. fantastic stuff if i may say so.

steve- one of the reasons the show is so dark is because Grissum's forensic team works the night shift.


Senior HTF Member
Sep 13, 1999
Real Name
Chris Caine
no subtitles.

there is EE present, but it's not distracting.


Stunt Coordinator
Jun 21, 2002
Real Name
Felix Wieme
Ah, I see :)
CC won't help without a decoder, but thanks anyway.


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