DVD
CSI: New York
Season 2 Part 1

Starring: Gary Sinise, Melina Kanaka Redes, Carmine Giovinazzo and Anna Belknap
Momentum Pictures
RRP: 39.99
MP416D
Certificate: 15
Available 17 July 2006


Set in the city that never sleeps,
CSI: New York is the latest spin-off from the hugely popular CSI series. Following on from Vegas and Miami, this CSI has a distinct New York City flavour and style. Dealing with a city with a three hundred year history and eight million residents is a whole different ball game...

It's all change for the CSI: New York team as Season Two gets under way. Out goes Aiden Burn to be replaced by fresh-faced transfer Lindsay Monroe - the jury's still out on whether Aiden left the show in the best way possible for her character. While I wasn't expecting a blaze of glory she does leave a bit weakly - as thought the writers really couldn't be bothered. Pathologist Sheldon Hawkes, after expressing his interest in moving out of the coroner's office, makes his first forays into the field as a CSI field agent. He is replaced by Dr. Sid Hammerback, a man with a rather bizarre sense of humour.

I started to get a bit nervous at the start of this collection. Why? Well, Mac started to show signs of becoming a pain in the ass - like Caine in CSI: Miami. On a couple of occasions he acts the hard man by threatening witnesses before he has any proof. And, most annoyingly he twice delivers naff Scooby-Doo style lines. In fact, in Summer in the City he actually does say: "And you might have gotten away with it..." Thankfully though this is short lived and he soon gets back to being the nice, friendly Mac that we know and love.

This season kicks off on the right foot with the episode Summer in the City. Mac and Hawkes investigate the suspicious death of a free climber attempting to scale the Empire State Building. In fact, this is the crime that opens the show. Meanwhile Danny and Stella unravel the mystery of why a world famous designer was found dead wearing one of his own creations: a bra covered in millions of dollars worth of diamonds; and Aiden revisits an unsolved rape with potentially career-ending results. The opening to the episode also gives us an indication of the shock tactics that the producers are going to use throughout this season - when the climber hits the ground, we see a quick shot of something big and bloody that has managed to separate from his body on impact. It soon transpires that this is his brain.

Other highlights include:

Zoo York - At the Bronx Zoo Mac, Danny and the new CSI Lindsay Hamilton look into the death of a man thrown to the tigers. Across town Stella and Hawkes are called in to find an elegantly dressed young woman dead on a carousel; the investigation leads from Central Park to Park Avenue in search of a debutante's killer. This episode has two very clever murders. Again, as in Summer in the City, this episode goes for the jugular with the gore. This time it's the body parts strewn around the tiger enclosure that will have you reaching (or retching) for a sick bag.

Corporate Warriors - A man is found beaten to death at the San Gennaro festival and the trail leads Mac and Stella from the narrow alleys of Mott Street to the power players of Wall Street, where they find themselves confronted by the code of the corporate warrior, which insures that the weak perish at the hands of the strong and the price of disloyalty is death. Meanwhile, Hawkes probes the tragic death of a young boy trapped in an apartment fire off Washington Square Park, birthplace of New York City's outdoor chess world and end of the line for an arsonist. Okay, the title sort of gives away some of the suspense here. When Mac and Stella start looking into the work place of the first victim it becomes pretty obvious that it's a work related death. Still, there are some clever element to this episode, and anyone who is interested in ancient Japanese weaponry will find this especially entertaining. The second crime, that of the death of a small boy, is rather tragic - especially when it is revealed how he died.

Dancing with the Fishes - Mac, Stella and Lindsay team up to discover why a struggling young dancer with a winning lottery ticket in her pocket was thrown from the Roosevelt Bridge Island Tram. Hawkes and Danny wonder why an honest fisherman seems to have met with an unfortunate death. Again, this episode starts with a particularly gruesome scene as a young woman lands on the bonnet of a car. It's a cheap trick to get the audience to jump, but it works. The second story sees the CSI team entering into the world of the fish trader when they find a body that has been dumped - a body that smells of fish.

Young Blood - The witness to a brutal elevator slaying has disappeared, and as the CSIs track her down they uncover the world of Manhattan "Lolitas", young girls who trawl for older men, never thinking of the potentially murderous consequences. Uptown, a body is discovered in the boat pond in Central Park, and as the CSIs investigate they discover that the victim has two identities from two very separate worlds. Powerful evidence points to a six degrees of separation scenario gone horribly wrong. While the first crime was interesting, it was the second murder that was really clever. When the CSI team find a body weighted down in a pond, they are at a loss to explain why half of his clothing looks like it belongs to a tramp, while the rest is expensive labels.

Bad Beat - When murder comes to play at a high-stakes poker game, Mac and his team work to find out why. In Central Park's Strawberry Fields, Hawkes and Danny come across a body they instantly recognise- she's the popular weather girl at Channel 2. Who would want such a sunny personality dead? I liked this episode for one huge reason. I worked out both murders before the reveal! Yay me! That doesn't happen often. Again, there's some pretty gory make-up as one of the poker players gets a shotgun in the face. And poor old Hawkes spends a lot of time in the rain trying to work out why the weather girl was killed.

City of the Dolls - In a New York doll "hospital", Mac and Danny recover the corpse of the doll "doctor" beneath hundreds of body parts - doll body parts. Meanwhile, Stella and Hawkes find a young woman dead in her apartment; evidence leads to several suspects. After all, who wouldn't kill for a residence with a view of the park? The main story, about the doll hospital is creepy, but not hard to fathom. As soon as you see the CSI team open up a doll with a voice box, you just know that some evidence or other is going to be recorded on it. The other murder, of a woman in a block of flats, is interesting in that it takes you all over the place, making you suspect everyone, before the real killer is revealed.

Jamalot - A rising roller derby star drops dead in the middle of a match, and Mac and Stella come to the rink to investigate. A deeper inspection reveals a gruesome discovery: she cooked to death - from the inside out. What could have caused such a meltdown? Hawkes and Danny unravel the mystery of why a struggling novelist was killed and left in an expensive oriental rug. While the main murder of a roller derby star is not particularly interesting, the crime surround the novelist is. The twist in the tale here is totally unexpected, and very cleverly handled.

Trapped - An eccentric billionaire is found dead in his bedroom and when Danny begins to process the scene he inadvertently trips a "panic" button, sealing himself in with the victim. There's no way to open the room in less than 12 hours, so he must resort to old school MacGuyver like forensics to ensure the murderer doesn't get a head start. While I loved this episode, in fact it was probably my favourite in this collection, I did have a few issues with it. Firstly, I couldn't really fathom why they couldn't get Danny to bag up all the evidence and wait until he could be freed from the room. Surely the evidence wouldn't be compromised that much by the heat. Also wouldn't it be inadmissible in court? The testing wasn't done in a controlled environment, like their labs, so goodness knows what sort of things could mess with the results. If they were hurrying because they wanted to trap their killer, and every second counts, surely a few hours is not going to make a lot of difference when it comes to ensuring that the evidence is processed properly. There was also a sort of an A-Team feel to this episode - Danny trapped in a room that just happens to have all the necessary chemicals and materials to allow him to do his job.

In fact, the only episode I really didn't care for was Manhattan Manhunt. This is the second part of the CSI: Miami / CSI: New York crossover episodes) Mac and Miami's Caine follow the evidence from steamy Miami to steely New York as they close in on the blood thirsty Henry Darius. The entire New York Crime Lab races against the clock to catch the twisted sociopath before he kills again. The story itself was okay, apart from the appearance of Caine. Now, I know this episode only really exists to migrate CSI: Miami fans over to CSI: New York and Vice Versa, but Caine's stupid little promise to some little kid got right up my nose. Am I the only person who wants to punch Caine in his stupid, smug, freckled face?

There seemed to be a bit of a trend developing here too. On a few episodes a third murder is added into the mix. And while at first this murder seems unrelated, the CSI team always managed to link it into one of their other cases.

I mentioned earlier the replacement of Hawkes by Dr. Hammerback. You might recognise the actor Robert Joy. He played Lizard in Alexandre Aja's remake of The Hills Have Eyes.

Oddly enough, this collection has no extras at all. Which (no pun intended) is a crime in itself. What happened to the audio commentaries and behind the scenes featurettes that fans have come to expect on these releases?

The whole season will set you back £80. To be honest that's daylight robbery. But, if you have the cash, the episodes are almost universally of a very high standard.

Amber Leigh

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