Well, you have to give the folks at CBS a certain amount of credit for keeping “C.S.I.” fans happy: at the end of each season, we can always count on the release of the full-season sets of each entry in the franchise. It might seem like a given, what with just about every show’s previous season coming out on DVD as soon as the new season begins, but the same can’t be said for NBC’s long-running franchise, “Law & Order,” so CBS definitely earns kudos for their quick turnaround.
Unfortunately, there’s something else about “C.S.I.” that’s unlike “Law & Order”: whereas each of the “L&O” series has developed its own identity, for the most part, the only thing that’s different about the “C.S.I.” series tends to be their casts and locations. Otherwise, they’re virtually interchangeable.
C.S.I. - Season Six (2005)
The original “C.S.I.” series remains the best of the bunch, possibly because the cast is so solid, and because we slowly but surely continue to learn about each and every one of the major characters. We get more glimpses of Catherine Willows’ (Marg Helgenberger) daughter and father, more details about Lady Heather, the professional dominatrix who never fails to raise Gil Grissom’s (William Petersen) eyebrows, as well as a look into the psyche of semi-new character Sofia Curtis (Louise Lombard) in the two-parter, “A Bullet Runs Through It.” The big reveal in the season’s other two-parter – the season finale – was the revelation that Grissom and Sarah Sidle (Jorja Fox) are indeed an item. The flirtation between the pair had been obvious from the very beginning, and the sexual tension had been palpable in recent seasons, so it wasn’t the biggest shock in the world to find out they were sleeping together, but for TV geeks, seeing them together was as gratifying a sight as the first time Ross and Rachel kissed. Oh, right, and somewhere in one of those episodes, Captain Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) got shot, too…but that was secondary, really.
C.S.I. - Miami: Season Four (2005)
The biggest problem with “C.S.I. Miami” is now and always has been its star, David Caruso, as Lieutenant Horatio Caine. He’s the 21st century’s TV cop equivalent of Jack Lord – Steve McGarrett in “Hawaii Five-O” – and he utters every line in such an overly dramatic manner that you just want to laugh at him. Thankfully, Emily Proctor has toned down her accent when playing Calleigh Duquesne, because she used to warrant just as much mockery. The show lost a major piece of its likeability when Rory Cochrane left the cast early in Season Three, but the pair of Adam Rodriguez and Jonathan Togo keep things solid, as does Khandi Alexander (Catherine from “NewsRadio”) as the most sympathetic coroner in the business. “Miami” sets itself apart on occasion by focusing on the rampant gang activity and drug running in the fair Florida city, but that damned David Caruso still makes it the least of the three series.
C.S.I. - New York: Season Two (2005)
In that it’s only beginning its third season this year, “C.S.I. N.Y.” is still getting its feet wet as a series, but it has one major thing going for it: Gary Sinise. As actors go, the guy’s about as dependable as they come, and he’s saved many a mediocre film from being completely unwatchable. Like the original “C.S.I.” with Las Vegas, this series has a tremendous scenic palate to work from, thanks to the urban sprawl of the Big Apple. Season One found Mac Taylor (Sinise) lightening up a bit, having had some time to recover from his wife’s death in 9/11…but that doesn’t stop him from firing a member of his team – Aiden Burn (Vanessa Furlito) – for compromising evidence on a rape case. Aiden returns at the end of the season, resulting in a conclusion to that case, as well as one of the harshest episodes of the year. “N.Y.” is finding its footing nicely; at this rate, it may well rival the original “C.S.I.” for top honors amongst the trio.
Special Features: Each of the sets includes commentaries and featurettes, but, fortunately, none of the featurettes on any set seem to step on the toes of the others. “Miami” has a three-part saga: “Creating Feature Television” (on concept, script, and pre-production), “Producing Feature Television,” and “Finishing Feature Television” (on post-production). “N.Y.” has a tour of that show’s set, a retrospective of the second season, and individual looks at three different episodes, while the docs on the original series focuses more on the real-life side of being a crime scene investigator.