CSI: New York
Season 1 Part 1

Starring: Gary Sinise, Melina Kanaka Redes, Carmine Giovinazzo and Vanessa Ferlito
Momentum Pictures
RRP: 39.99
Certificate: 15
Available 24 October 2005

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...

CSI: New York, unlike CSI: Miami, gets of to a very impressive start. This is down to a number of factors. Firstly, and most importantly, the show's main character Mack Taylor (Gary Sinise) is an extremely likeable character. Also the evidence does the talking while the whole CSI: New York cast work as a team to solve each case with an objective mind.

I love the original CSI series, passionately detest CSI: Miami (due to the fact that the character of Horatio Caine is such a total tosser - fitting the evidence to support is wild theories beggars belief in some episodes). Actually, I say I detest CSI: Miami, but to be fair, I have attempted to approach each DVD release with an open mind (and have always been disappointed).

This collection gets off on the right foot with the episode Blink. Detective Taylor discovers the body of a missing woman. When a second body is discovered, on a garbage barge, the investigation leads to a serial killer who "imprisons" his victims. Taylor follows the trail to a live victim - a woman who cannot move or speak. The only part of her body she still seems to have any control over is her eyelids. With the only witness to have seen the killer unable to communicate how on earth is Taylor going to find his killer?

Blink is a pretty terrifying episode. The thought of being totally paralysed, but fully conscious and unable to communicate, is a frightening prospect. I was also impressed with the way they pinpointed the exact spot where one of the last victims was seen alive. For this they used a photograph (that was on a roll of undeveloped film in a camera that was found with her body). From the recognised landmarks in the photo the CSI team were able to use a computer program to pinpoint where she was on the day she died.

I did have a slight problem with this episode. When the paralysed woman was discovered why did they have police cars swarming to the front of the building with their lights flashing? Would it not have made more sense to discretely remove the woman and the sit and wait for the kidnapper to reappear?

Another nit-pick I spotted was in the episode Creatures of the Night. Here the trousers of a suspected rapist and the victims underwear are in the same laboratory... what about cross contamination?

Highlights of this collection include:

Outside Man: which has the CSI team guessing who the criminal is and (unlike CSI: Miami's Caine) getting it wrong.

Rain examines a forensic teams worst nightmare. What happens when rain washes away crucial evidence?

Officer Blue: When a New York City police officer is shot off his horse, Taylor and his team comb the city for suspects. The only shard of evidence is the bullet lodged in the dead cop's horse. Mac has to make the painful decision to either save the animal or risk killing it in order to examine the bullet. The great thing about this episode is that Taylor is all for getting the bullet out of the horse at any cost. It's only when he learns that the horse was bought by a woman whose husband was another New York officer killed in the line of duty. The horse is something for this woman, and her young daughter to hang on to in their grief.

Thankfully Officer Blue just manages to steer itself away from being too sentimental. The only problem I had with this episode was how the CSI team managed to pinpoint the exact spot the killer fired their weapon from. To be able to locate the exact room in the manner they did is very dubious. If the bullet had landed in something stationary, then they may have been able to do this, but the movement of the horse and rider, after the bullet struck, would have easily made this form of locating the sniper impossible.

To be honest though, there isn't a bad episode in this collection. All of them have their merits. One of the little problems I did have overall was the Scooby-Doo! style in which a lot of the criminals admit their guilt when confronted with the evidence. It's all well and good them coming clean, but where is their solicitor? Or do New York criminals have law degrees, and have no use for lawyers (Ah! If only. The world would certainly be a better place).

I also didn't think the title music really fitted very well. The Who must be making a small fortune (their music has been 'borrowed' for all three CSI shows) but I just didn't think that the track used really fitted the opening titles in the same way as they have in the past. And I won't even mention how odd it is that a show that is set in the hustle and bustle of New York should have a title song that starts with the lyrics: "Out here in the fields, I fight for my meals." [Too late, you have - Ed]

Extras include various episodes with audio commentaries; The Science Behind the Scenes (6 min featurette)

Thankfully CSI: New York proves, once again, that the format does work - and that it was not a miracle that the original CSI series was such a huge success. While I still think that the original CSI is my favourite, CSI: New York is still in it's infancy and could, over time, equal, or even surpass, the quality of the original series.

Amber Leigh

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