CSI Miami is based on the hugely popular original Crime Scene Investigation series set in Las Vegas and when it premiered on the American CBS television network it earned the highest rating of any network premiere in the past eight years. But this success was no fluke, it was based on a highly successful formula which, if done correctly, could be reproduced in any American city.
CSI Miami chronicles the work of the Miami-Dade crime investigators and is set against the sun, fun and tropics of the Florida tourist haven. Leading the team is Horatio Caine, and as an ex-bomb squad detective he is no stranger to confrontations with criminals and the underworld. His second in command is DNA specialist Megan Donner who is returning to the team after six months bereavement leave after the death of her husband.
The rest of the team is made up of Calleigh Duquene, the bilingual ballistics expert who has the looks of a beauty queen but who can hold her own with any perpetrator. Next up is Eric Delko, an underwater recovery expert with strong ties to the large Miami Cuban community. Then there's Tim Speedle, a talented young criminologist who's doing the job to honour his deceased friend whilst Alex Woods rounds off the team as the no-nonsense coroner who displays empathy and feeling for all her cases.
The picture is bright and colourful with a high level of detail throughout with the opening credits looking particularly impressive. Although each episode has an above average bitrate, the picture can be rather grainy at times which can then be exacerbated by some rather high levels of contrast and brightly lit scenes. Fortunately, this is not too distracting as the detail and the rich and bright colours more than make up for it.
The success of the original CSI, and not forgetting Jerry Bruckheimer's influence within Hollywood, ensures that the series budget is greater than most. As a result, grain aside, the transfer is near perfect with no signs of artifacting or print damage. Matters are also helped by the producers clear intention to release this series onto DVD, so where other series suffer from a relatively poor transfer, CSI Miami is possibly one of the best.
For a television series CSI Miami is equipped with a rather good Dolby Digital 448Kbps soundtrack with plenty of ambient effects along with the musical score appearing in the rear channels. The dialogue is crisp and clear in the centre channel whilst the front stereo channels offer some good stereo steerage as well as use by ambient effects and the musical score. This really is a television series which thinks its a Hollywood film and now that America has embraced digital television broadcasts, with Dolby Digital at its heart, this trend is sure to continue.
The menus across all of the discs are pleasantly animated with a CGI generated mortuary and cadaver and scored with computer bleeps and other noises in Dolby 5.1 stereo. Although the menu options are rather limited, whenever an option is selected you whiz through the laboratory to the next menu.
The extras are spread across the three discs and, as with the original Crime Scene Investigation series on DVD, they are made up of a number of featurettes and an audio commentary for series opener Golden Parachute. In this commentary track, episode writer Steven Maeda along with episode director Joe Chappelle reveal a number of facts and figures about the story and what it was like to film in the swampy Everglades. It's interesting enough, but with only one commentary for twelve episodes it all seems a little misery.
The two featurettes Creating CSI : Miami and CSI : Miami Uncovered are interesting enough and contain a number of interviews with series creators Anthony Zuiker, Ann Donahue and Carol Mendelsohn, producer Danny Cannon and writer Elizabeth Devine who talk candidly about creating the series. Whilst the Creating featurette concentrations on the programmes origins, the Uncovered featurette includes some behind the scenes footage along with more interviews with the creators and producers as well as interviews with the cast and crew. With the featurettes running at around 10 minutes each, both offer an interesting insight into the series and its wide ranging appeal.
Next up is the highly annoying Procedures of Handling Evidence feature. Split into a number of sections, which can't all be played in one go, technical consultant John Haynes blinds you with science with the various techniques used to gather evidence. Unfortunately, he annotates the scenes from the series in such a boring a monotone manner they quickly become uninteresting. Things are rounded of with the television trailer for the series.
With the original CSI being a hugely successful series it was always going to be hard to improve on. So the producers and script writers got together and came up with a brilliant idea - why not keep the same gripping formula with all the crime scene gadgets and special effects and just move it to another location? This resulted in a new series, and team of CSI agents, based in sun drenched Miami. With so much sun, sea, money and the inevitable bands of criminals knocking around, the formula which made the original CSI such a success could easily be repeated here.
However, whilst there's no doubting the quality of both the scripts and the actors, I really just can't get into CSI Miami and I find that Lieutenant Horatio Caine's tone and bossy demeanour is extremely annoying. I'm a bit of a fickler when it comes to change and I much prefer the original Las Vegas location and its well established characters. Still, that doesn't mean that CSI Miami is rubbish, far from it, and after seeing some cracking episodes aired on Channel 5 I'm willing to stick with the series in the hope I'll join its growing legion of fans. After all, it's the first season of what is essentially a new show and with so many expectations to meet the last thing you want is a fussy viewer.
- Golden Parachute commentary
- Creating CSI: Miami
- CSI: Miami Uncovered
- Procedures of Handling Evidence
- CSI: Miami Trailer