“ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Las Vegas - Complete Season 3 (DVD) / Director: Alec Smight, Brad Tanenbaum, Christopher Leitch, Jeffrey G. Hunt, Kenneth Fink / Actor: William Petersen / DVD released 2010-03-01 by Momentum Pictures / Features of the DVD: Box set, PAL „
* Prices may differ from that shown
*DVD extras not reviewed*
Third season of the long running crime show CSI. Based in Las Vegas, CSI follows the night shift of the crime lab as they crack down on criminals in the city of sin.
Created by Ann Donahue and Anthony E. Zuiker
CSI has been on our TV screens since the year 2000, with two spin offs and a 12th season due to start in the autumn it is one of the longest running and successful series of recent years. The early success of CSI in the US led to the influx of other crime shows; it could be argued that there are too many now. In my opinion, it's not really the volume but the quality that is the problem, too many substandard crime shows have been green lit in recent years.
I have watched CSI since its debut on channel 5 all those years ago, I've probably watched too much of it to be honest. As I am a nerd, I have been going through the box sets methodically (what else is a recent graduate supposed to do with their time?!?). Although I do like the recent seasons with Laurence Fishburne and I'm interested to see how Ted Danson fits in when season 12 airs, I do think CSI was at its best when William Petersen was on board. So with Petersen at the helm, watching season 3 of the perennial crime show again was a joy.
Each episode of CSI follows a suspicious death from the moment the team is called onto the scene to them solving the case/reaching a dead end. Obviously, solving crimes isn't done overnight but as the writers are trying to create an entertaining TV show the real-life process is sped up somewhat. I have read that the science on the show is nearly always correct, the writers have made a few errors over the years apparently (I have no idea, I do not get science).
In my opinion, the strength of the ensemble cast is one of the reasons for the huge success of CSI. The crime of the week takes centre stage but the writers still fit in back stories and personality to make you care about the criminalists. Below is a list of the regular cast members of season 3:
William Petersen (Manhunter) stars as night shift Supervisor Gil Grissom. He is the boss who always seems to be one step ahead of the other CSIs, he knows pretty much everything. Grissom is an expert on bugs but he struggles with human interaction and often comes off as cold to his co-workers. Petersen commands the screen more than any of his co-stars with Marg Helgenberger being the only other one who seems like a lead to me. He was perfect for the role and held the show together well in the early years.
Marg Helgenberger (Mr Brooks) is Catherine Willows, second in line to Grissom. Willows is a single mum who despite being a great CSI makes the occasional big mistake that threatens the integrity of the lab. As I mentioned above apart from Petersen, Helgenberger is the cast member that you'll remember most after watching an episode. That is partly to do with the writing, from the beginning she has consistently been given big storylines, and also partly down to her as an actress. Also, she has the best surname ever, Helgenberger. Brilliant.
George Eads (Evel Knievel) stars in the role of Nick Stokes. Nick sympathises the most with victims and their relatives; this can sometimes get him into trouble as he lets his emotions get the better of him. Eads is strong in the role and gets to show some passion, which often makes him stand out in episodes.
Jorja Fox (ER) is Sara Sidle. Sidle is the moodiest of the CSIs and always seems to have a bee in her bonnet about something or other. Fox is probably my least favourite member of the cast, I find her character annoying. To be fair, it's the way her character is written that annoys me more than Fox as an actress.
Gary Dourdan (Alien: Resurrection) plays CSI Warrick Brown. Warrick is the guy who messes up most in the crime lab. In the first season, his fondness of gambling got him into trouble; in the third season, it's Brown's dislike of the system that causes him and the lab problems. Dourdan seems so relaxed, sometimes he's got less life in him than the corpses. He does well when he is given a bit of a storyline and gets the opportunity to do something more than just collect evidence. The problem is he doesn't get enough to do in the third season.
Paul Guilfoyle (LA Confidential) is Captain Jim Brass of the LVPD. In the first season of CSI, Brass seemed almost to be an enemy of the CSIs but he's definitely more of an ally in this season, unless CSI accuse a police officer of committing a crime of course. Guilfoyle is better in the friendly cop role than the jerk he played in the earlier episodes in my opinion. He has appeared in every episode of CSI so it was a wise choice to soften him up a bit, his character would have grown old quickly otherwise.
Eric Szmanda (The Rules of Attraction) plays DNA analyst Greg Sanders. Sanders is the comic relief in the crime lab, he basically acts the fool. Season 3 sees Sanders attempting to move out of the lab and into the field. Szmanda is a great fit as Greg, not saying he's a fool but he is very convincing in the role.
Robert David Hall (The Negotiator) is Dr. Al Robbins. Robbins is the coroner, so he tells the CSIs what the cause of death is etc. Despite only being in each episode a relatively small amount of time, the writers do a good job of giving him some good one liners. Hall has good chemistry with the other cast members, especially William Petersen. His role on the show has helped raise awareness of disabled actors and he actively campaigns for the hiring of more disabled actors.
Now that I've been through the characters, I will move on to the episodes of season 3. The main arc to the season is Grissom losing his hearing and the effect it has on career. Personally, I don't think they went as far with this storyline as they could have, I would have liked the loss of Grissom's hearing to have had a bigger effect on the season. They built it into the season nicely but it didn't cause as many problems as I was expecting.
There is also a budding relationship between Grissom and Sara Sidle, which seemed to come out of nowhere, Grissom has always had more 'personal' conservations with Catherine than Sara. But Catherine has enough stuff going on in her personal life in this season so maybe the writers decided to go for the only other female on staff.
I found all 23 episodes of the season entertaining; all have something different to offer. Some episodes are very serious, some filled with a lot of lighter moments. My favourite episodes were:
- The Execution of Catherine Willows (ep 6) - A case from Catherine's past comes back to life after a man on death row is given a reprieve
- Random Acts of Violence (ep 13) - Warrick gets personally involved in a murder that happened in his old neighbourhood
- Lady Heather's Box (ep 15) - Melinda Clarke returns as Lady Heather; two male prostitutes that worked for her are found dead
- Inside the Box (ep 23) - Catherine makes a discovery that has a massive impact on her and the entire lab
To sum it up: I love CSI. I love the cast, the storylines, the way it is shot, everything. The CGI recreations of organs being shot/brains dying/other gruesome stuff may be kind of cheap but they do add to the show and help the audience understand what they are talking about. They do use quite a lot of CGI throughout a season and they don't have as much time to polish an episode as movie producers do, for example. So I think the average CGI is forgivable.
CSI also has the best theme tune ever. 'Who Are You' by The Who, I can't help but hum/sing/bop along to it every single episode (I did say I was a nerd...).
You need this box set in your life, I have seen these episodes multiple times and I am sure I will watch them over and over again. The price of the box set does vary a lot; you're probably best buying it from eBay or keeping an eye out on amazon, they alter their CSI prices quite a lot. Or you could just watch 5/5*/5USA, I think it's on every day at some point. I cannot recommend CSI enough.
'CSI Moves Into Series 3' featurette
'The CSI Tour: The Police Station' featurette
'The CSI Shot: Making It Real' featurette
'The Writer's Room' featurette
Crime scene field kit
William Petersen - Gil Grissom
Marg Helgenberger - Catherine Willows
George Eads - Nick Stokes
Jorja Fox - Sara Sidle
Gary Dourdan - Warrick Brown
Paul Guilfoyle - Captain Jim Brass
Eric Szmanda - Greg Sanders
Robert David Hall - Dr. Al Robbins
Also posted on ciao under the username shabbating