CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

I started watching this show because it was a lead-in to The Agency and became addicted! This is CBS’s top rated show that ends up being #1, 2 or 3 in any given Nielsen Rating week.

The casting is great, a whole bunch of low keyed professional functionaries who work the night shift at the Las Vegas Police Department collecting evidence at crime scenes that serve as clues for solving the problem at hand, which is often a dead body. The only one from the cast I really knew well was Marg Helgenberger (who did an outstanding job in television’s China Beach before moving into feature films with Species), but I’ve grown to really like William L. Petersen who run’s the department (he’s also one of the producers of this show). Petersen’s character is somewhat an anti-hero. Slow, cautious, careful and methodical, but he’s not a flag waving, crusade carrying capped crusader.

Each episode usually has two cases, usually dead bodies are involved. And the CSI staff has to figure out who did what to whom based on the physical evidence, profiling and brainstorming. The opening teaser break’s into “Who Are You?” by the Who, which serves as the show’s theme, which is a musical message that is both figurative and literal, as in some instances they don’t know who the victim really is or where they vanished.

Sometimes we find out there was really no crime involved, such as once case in which a college student vanished from her dorm leaving her bag behind and missing the taxi ride she called. It had turned out she had gone out to the big trash bin in back and got accidentally pushed in when the can shifted and got compressed by the trash truck wills still alive, unfortunate but accidental. Sometimes they are faced with a case they get all wrong, such as a car that went over a cliff. They were making bets about how the car ended up doing a Thelma and Louise, again there was no crime involved other than a drunk driver who tittered on the edge of the cliff, belted himself in the back seat and then walked away from the scene after the car finally went off into the abyss. Sometimes there was a very serious crime with a lot of false leads, but after the CSI crew (which also includes Gary Dourdan, George Eads and Jorja Fox) looks over all the evidence they find out what the truth really is, such as a case in which a man was murdered during a break-in at his house. His brother found the body and called 911. After fully checking out the evidence the determined the brother had done the crime as the window was broken out from the inside not the outside (stress marks on the broken glass fragments show the direction of the breakage). Aiding them is their detective department liaison and former boss played by Paul Guilfoyle who was transferred back from CSI to Homicide division.

This show runs like a television reality show on the Discovery Channel with good actors, excellent production values and a really good, well written plot. The equipment and techniques are real, the characters are three dimensional with highly credible stories.

CSI has already been renewed for next season and is the equivalent of NBC’s Law and Order with a large audience draw, good production values and super writing. Created by Anthony Zuiker (“The Runner”) who is an Executive Producer. Jerry Bruckheimer (“Enemy of the State,” “The Rock”) is also an Executive Producer, with the regular writing producers including Carol Mendelsohn (“Melrose Place”), Ann Donahue (“Murder One,” “M.Y.O.B.”) and James C. Hart (“Chicago Hope,” “The Wonder Years”).

-- E.R.D.

Television in the Future...

The new, gritty, cop show on FX that debuts this month under the name "The Shield" was originally titled "The Barn" and then "Rampart" -- which is the actualy name of a rough and battered police division in Los Angeles.

The show is getting a big push from FX, a Fox television station only found on cable.

Australian actor Melissa George (previously from ABC's short lived "Thieves" and the feature film "Mulholland Drive") stars in the romantic fantasy Lost In Oz which is about Tina Vittori, a student in Kansas, who is carried away by a tornado to then leads a revolt against the ruling faction of the Emerald City.

ABC will be looking at ``That Was Then,'' which is about a man who travels back to high school to correct all the problems in his life and a familiy oriented series about a martial arts family...

NBC has renewed Jill Hennessey's show Crossing Jordan and will also be looking at "War Stories" (starring Jeff Goldblum best remembered as the scientist from Jurassic Park 1 and 2), "Kingpin" from Spelling Televsion (who gave us Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place) which is about the drug trade, "Miss American Pie" a 1960's period piece produced by Dick Clark, who will be using clips from his American Bandstand shows from that era, "Boomtown" which is a cop show and is considering making a series based on the feature movie Zero Effect.

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