HTF REVIEW: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Complete Third Season (Recommended)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Scott Kimball, Mar 19, 2004.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    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.
     
  2. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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    Definitely one of the smartest shows on TV... Slick and thought-provoking. Widescreen and commercial free, the DVD package is the way to go.

    Will definitely be there when the store opens on 3/30.
    My BestBuy never seems to get a large enough shipment to meet the demand for this series(or "Alias").

    Thanks for the excellent review!

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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    Great review Scott [​IMG]

    This is yet another must buy TV show. Now if we could just get that season set of Without A Trace....

    Season 3, IMO, is the strongest season of CSI, with the second half really raising the bar.

    Chris
     
  4. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    Great review of one of my favorite shows!

    Waiting for my preorder to arrive. Cant wait. [​IMG]

    Reminds me I still need to buy S1 but I did rent it from netflix. After that I bought S2 and ordered S3. Im hooked.
     
  5. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

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    Surprised to find this on the shelf today. Despite my bringing their attention to the error, they insisted that today WAS the release date. I picked up a copy (regular price of $72.99) and will just price-match on next Tuesday and get 10% of the difference as well.

    At least I can start enjoying it tonight. I usually avoid TV-DVDs, but "CSI" is an exception. Excellent picture!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Screenwriter

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    I picked this up yesterday (yes, a week before release date). I watched two episodes last night and it was really outstanding. I have the first two seasons as well, but this one even outshines Season Two, which looked pretty darn good on its own. Why can't this kind of care be taken with ALL TV Shows on DVD?
     
  7. Joseph S

    Joseph S Cinematographer

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    Exactly!!!!!

    That's the very reason I'm not buying this set, season 2, or season 1.
     
  8. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    I found it on the shelf on Tuesday as well. Im already on disc 3. (Had yesterday off work [​IMG] ) It really does shine on DVD.

    Loved "Fight Night".

    Are they going to release CSI Miami?
     
  9. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    You have me thoroughly confused. In protest to other shoddy TV on DVD releases, you're boycotting one of the best DVD releases? That will...uh...send the message.

    I've been very impressed with the CSI releases, which are vibrant demonstrations of this great show. I can't say no to any release. I can't believe they are continuing to improve the image quality. Great news.
     
  10. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

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    I didn't quite understand what he was getting at, either...

    -Scott
     
  11. Joseph S

    Joseph S Cinematographer

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    and Season 2, 4 and beyond as well. They had my money for the UK import which was released 6 or so months before the announcement of the US release until the reviews came in. That order was cancelled and I'm not buying any of the series until Season 1 is corrected at which point I would buy the rest.
     
  12. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

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    Scott,
    Thanks for the heads up on Miami.

    I know some of us CSI fans dont like it but its still good.
     
  13. Yousaf

    Yousaf Second Unit

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    Jenna,

    Try Circuit City! They'll more than match BB's price if it's lower, and at least when I worked there, we couldn't get rid of Alias if we tried [​IMG] (Everyone was, of course, buying at BB). CSI was the same deal if I remember correctly...
     

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