CSI: Crime Scene Investigation The Complete Third Season Studio: Paramount Year: 2003 Rated: NR Length: 1021 minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround, Commentaries on select episodes English Closed Captioned Special Features: 5 behind the scenes featurettes, Commentaries No SRP. Expected selling price: under $70US Release Date: March 30, 2004 CSI continues to be a smart cop drama in season 3 on DVD. Consistently rated in Neilsen’s top 10, CSI is not a reality show or a soap opera. It is a crime drama that focuses on the solving of crimes through science. It’s a smart show, and it’s nice to know that smart TV can still find ratings. Sure, you could argue that CSI is unrealistic and inaccurate in the way it portrays science. The producers have to take dramatic license to keep the show interesting - so you will see DNA results returned in hours instead of weeks. You may even see some improper police procedure here and there. The show, however, is based on scientific reality. Forensic science can deliver almost everything the CSI characters do - just maybe not as quickly or easily. I like that the show focuses on the crimes and occasionally the office politics - but rarely strays into soap opera territory. In season 3, we do see some straying with personal relationships and problems. Mostly, they are simply part of the “B” story, or just there to provide texture. The focus of CSI has always been the science of solving crime. William Petersen is the core of the show. His character is a bit mysterious. He’s a man who has difficulty relating to others, because he relates better to his work. Season 3 begins to show that he has some difficulties in his leadership role - and some of that difficulty may be due to his increasing hearing loss. Marg Helgenberger carries the most personal baggage of the cast, and some of that comes to a head in a special 90 minute episode. Jorja Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, Gary Dourdan, George Eads and the rest of the cast all turn in consistently strong performances, adding to the depth of the show. I’ve become a real fan of CSI on DVD, and my enjoyment is increased by the fact that my OTA reception of CBS is poor enough for me to pass on the original broadcasts. I see CSI first on DVD. Episodes: Disc 1: Revenge is Best Served Cold The Accused is Entitled Let the Seller Beware A Little Murder Disc 2: Abra Cadaver The Execution of Catherine Willows Fight Night Snuff Disc 3: Blood Lust High and Low Recipe for Murder Got Murder? Disc 4: Random Acts of Violence One Hit Wonder Lady Heather’s Box Lucky Strike Disc 5: Crash and Burn Precious Metal A Night at the Movies Last Laugh Disc 6: Forever Play with Fire Inside the Box Special Features All of these season 3 episodes are good, but here’s my “best” list: A Night at the Movies Grissom and Catherine try to solve the stabbing death of a patron at an art-house movie theater. Shades of “Strangers on a Train.” The “B” story involves the bizarre shooting death of a teen. The Execution of Catherine Willows Catherine’s investigation 15 years ago helped put a man on death row for the murder of a college coed. Now, eerily similar crimes are being committed - and it appears that the man Catherine helped put away may have been a copy cat - the original murderer may still be on the loose. Revenge is Best Served Cold A street racer and a poker player are dead. Revenge may be the motive for both cases. The Look CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Third Season continues to hold the bar high for TV on DVD. Starting with the anamorphic presentation in season 2, this show has been a high quality product. Season 3 continues the tradition with an ultra sharp picture, excellent contrast, good black levels and shadow detail, and nicely saturated color. I love the establishing shots of the Vegas strip... the colors seem to leap off the screen. There seems to be less ringing in the picture than in season 2, for a picture that is a marginal improvement over that already impressive product. There is some grain in the picture, from the original photographic process. It’s part of the style of CSI. The Sound Similar to season 2, this season 3 set contains a dazzling use of subtle surround cues. Sounds emanate from all around you: phones ringing behind you and to the left, a printer makes noise on the right, footsteps are heard in the hallways... it’s candy for the ears. Frequency response is admirable, allowing for great sounding musical cues and very realistic character voicing. LFE won’t knock your socks off, but overall the aural experience of CSI on DVD rivals or exceeds most other TV on DVD product. Don’t expect blockbuster motion picture sound - you won’t find it... but this 5.1 surround track is a real treat for the ears. Special Features The CSI Tour: Police Station (9:24) Production designer Richard Berg hosts a walking tour of the police station, as seen in CSI. Included are: the reception area, the hallways, the interrogation rooms, the bullpen, and Captain Brass’s office. Berg calls attention to the many windows used on the set, to create an open an active atmosphere. The CSI Shot: Making it Real (11:45) Executive Producer Danny Cannon recalls the use of the CSI shot in the very first script, and how it has become the show’s trademark. This featurette includes behind the scenes footage of the effects unit making these shots, as well as interviews with producers and visual effects staff. The Writer’s Room (11:42) Producers Carol Mendelsohn, Anthony Zuiker, Naren Shankar and the writing staff talk about the collaborative writing process for CSI. CSI Moves Into Season Three (13:14) William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, Jorja Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Eric Szmanda and Robert David Hall reflect on season three and the evolution of their characters and the show. Clips from the show are included, as well as input from some of the producers of CSI. Crime Scene Field Kit Technical Advisor Richard Catalani introduces us to the items found in a CSI’s field kit. Items include: ALS, flashlight, forceps, gel lifters, gloves, ground penetrating radar, phenolphthalein, scalpel and swabs. Commentaries “Revenge is Best Served Cold” with commentary by Danny Cannon and Anthony Zuiker. This commentary seems to be more a scene specific collection of anecdotes than a running commentary. Comments are made about photography, lighting, digital processing, story pacing, etc... but there are long periods of silence in between nuggets of information. In fact, the participants comment at one point that they are getting wrapped up in watching the episode and forget to say anything. There are some interesting tidbits here, though... In one shot of a dead body, it is brought to light that the gray pallor on the body’s face is not makeup - it is a digital effect. There are also interesting comments about a scene about 12.5 minutes in utilizing multiple shots with the camera locked down, giving a time lapse effect. “The Accused is Entitled” with commentary by Ann Donahue, Elizabeth Devine and Ken Fink. “Fight Night” with commentary by Richard Lewis and Naren Shankar. The sections of this commentary that I sampled were pretty much down to business and by the numbers. No juicy tidbits on casting choices, etc. There is some practical information given on a few casting choices, but this commentary deals more with camera technique and shooting logistics on location. Comments on the signature CSI Shot are basically limited to verbal admiration of the effects crew with no inclusion of the processes required to get the shot. Not a bad commentary, for those interested in nuts and bolts shooting logistics. “Snuff” with commentary by Ann Donahue and Ken Fink. “Random Acts of Violence” with commentary by Danny Cannon and Naren Shankar. “Lady Heather’s Box” with commentary by Richard Lewis, Anthony Zuiker, Naren Shankar and Josh Berman. Final Thoughts For any fan of CSI, purchasing this set should be a no-brainer. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, I suggest you check it out on CBS. This DVD set is what all TV on DVD should aspire to be, with top quality picture and sound, nearly an hour’s worth of featurettes, and commentaries on six episodes. The only thing that would make the set better would be the inclusion of an actor commentary or two. Recommended.