CSI New York : Season One, Part One (2004) artwork

CSI New York : Season One, Part One (2004)

17th October 2005

America's Number One crime drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation continues its successful expansion by opening up a new office in New York's Big Apple where there's yet more murders to solve.
Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, Carmine Giovinazzo, Vanessa Ferlito, Hill Harper, Eddie Cahill, Sonya Walger, Chad Lindberg, J. Grant Albrecht
Television, Crime
8 Hours 7 Minutes
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CSI : NY is the forensic crime drama, spun-off from CSI: Miami and inspired by the Number One drama series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, about forensic investigators who use high-tech science to follow the evidence and solve crimes in The Big Apple. The New York CSI's may have a different process than those in Vegas or Miami, but they are guided by the same steadfast determination. These skilled investigators, who see New York in a different light, follow the evidence as they piece together clues and eliminate doubt to ultimately crack their cases.

First Grade Detective Mac Taylor heads the New York City Crime Lab, conducting investigations according to Veneziano's theory of quantum physics: everything is connected. Originally from Chicago, Mac served his country as a decorated Marine Corps officer moving to New York City once he'd served his time. Because of the heroism demonstrated during his military career, Mac succeeded in earning a spot amongst New York City's finest. Ascending through the ranks of the NYPD, he ultimately found a home in the crime scene investigation division. As one of the world's foremost Criminalists, Mac grapples not only with the how, but the why. At the same time, he struggles to bring order to his own fractured personal narrative, caused by the death of his wife.

Second Grade Detective Stella Bonasera is half Greek, half Italian, and all New York. She speaks her mind and does not back away from confrontation. The eldest of four girls, Stella raised her younger sisters in a single parent household. She shouldered this responsibility without hesitation, never questioning the sacrifice of her own childhood for the benefit of her family. As a result, she is a woman who understands the meaning of dedication and hard work and expects it of others. To fellow officers she is the Statue of Liberty, a woman standing tall with her head held high. These qualities coupled with her intelligence, brashness and determination earned her a coveted spot alongside Mac Taylor as a CSI.

Third Grade Detective Danny Messer brings his Staten Island routes to the New York City Crime Lab. Growing up in a family under surveillance, Danny formulated his own set of hybrid ethics, blending the world of law-breakers with the world of lawmakers. Mac personally selected Danny to join his team, an honor and responsibility that Danny attempts to live up to every day. Third Grade Detective Aiden Burn is smart, sexy and streetwise. A chameleon, she adjusts to her surroundings, trying on new identities the way other women try on clothes. Born and raised in Red Hook, Brooklyn, she is well versed in the ways of New York City. Artistically gifted and well studied in Anthropology, Aiden specialises in skeletal identification and facial reconstruction.

As Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Sheldon Hawkes feels perfectly at ease in a room filled with death. Raised in Harlem, Dr. Hawkes was a child prodigy who graduated college at eighteen. By twenty-four, he was a board-licensed surgeon. Young and socially inexperienced, his education could not shield him from the pressure of saving lives. Two years later, Dr. Hawkes left the operating room, retreating to the safety of the medical examiner's office. Detective Don Flack knows the streets of New York. Yonkers bred, a descendent from a long line of police officers, Detective Flack's future was never in question. Working closely with Mac and his unit, Flack bridges the gap between the old school NYPD and the new generation of CSI. Carrying with him an intense hatred of the "bad guy", his approach to solving crimes, while sometimes borderline, is nonetheless always effective.

With fairly tight budgets to work to, you tend to expect television series to be functional rather than too adventurous in the picture department. However, with the continual success of both the original CSI and CSI Miami, and not forgetting Jerry Bruckheimer's huge and successful influence within Hollywood, CSI : New York manages to produce a standard of picture which is so far off the benchmark of any other current television series that it sets a completely new precedence. It takes quite a lot to impress me, and not just DVDs or films, but the standard of the picture quality here left me nothing short of gob smacked.

One of the best and most well known skylines in the world looks wonderful with colours that are rich and vibrant with a huge amount of depth and detail. Even the most challenging of dark and gloomy scenes are handled with ease and there are no visible signs of either artifacting or outlining. Black levels are also impressive throughout and both day, night and gloomy interior scenes look superb. And with the series originating on video, and quite possibly in the digital domain from the beginning of the production process, there's no problem with print damage or other forms of picture imperfections. It's certainly an image which puts many a big Hollywood blockbuster to shame.

Like the picture, on inserting and starting to watch the first disc I expected nothing but standard effects from the audio. However, once the opening credits started, how wrong I was. The 448 Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is absolutely stunning and I kept having to pinch myself in order to keep remembering that I was actually watching a television series and not a Hollywood movie. It was both disconcerting, and exciting, all at the same time as the surround channels blasted out the impressive musical score with gusto along with oodles of ambient effects. The dialogue is also crisp and clear in the centre channel whilst there's some good direction in the front stereo channels. Even the LFE channel comes into play with some nice rumbles to add to the on screen action.

Once you get past the anti-piracy spiel, which rather annoyingly is repeated across each of the discs, the main menu is scored and pleasantly animated with cut scenes from the various episodes whilst the menu transition effects are also quite effective, employing the same CGI graphics from the programme to explain an incident which occurred to an unfortunate victim. The submenus are static and silent affairs, but you really can't get confused as you simply need to select an episode from the menu. Still, it's a pity that there's no "play all" option. Once selected, and where available, you can then opt to listen to the accompanying audio commentary.

The extras are made up of audio commentaries for the episodes Blink, Creatures Of The Night, Outside Man, Officer Blue and Night Mother. As with other CSI releases, there doesn't appear to be any specific reasoning behind these choices, but they're all fairly interesting and fans of the series are sure to enjoy the majority of them. Executive producer and writer Anthony E. Zuiker provides a rather bland commentary track with far too quiet moments for the Officer Blue and Blink episodes whilst writers Timothy J. Lea, Zachary Reither and Pam Veasey provide the commentaries for the other episodes. The best commentary would have to be for the Recycling episode with Timothy and Zachary providing the interesting facts behind the episode.

Also included is the six minute Behind the Science of the Show featurette. With the actors claiming not to have a clue about the science of the show, it's left to technical adviser Bill Haynes to guide the shows producers and provide the true facts behind the fiction. Everyone on the show obviously likes him as there's plenty of back slapping heading in his direction from just about every member of the cast. There's also a fair bit of information on the actual forensics side of the show, plus Haynes even admits to quite of few of the liberties they take with the forensics process.

Along with a new series there's a new collection of gadgets to both baffle and bamboozle the viewer. Not only do we have new technology which can reproduce a near perfect image from someone's reflection in an eyeball, but we can now produce an instant set of 3D images of central park and then use this to triangulate the flora and vegetation down to the last blade of grass. Whilst the CSI programmes are always interesting to watch, there are a few occasions where you can end up slapping your forehead and groaning in frustration at the technological get outs. Also, I've said it on other CSI reviews before, but if CSI : Grave Danger can do it, why can't we have more double length episodes with some good old fashioned detective footwork for a change?

If CSI : New York had been released as a single box-set, rather than in two fairly expensive parts, then this DVD series would have attained near god like status. Never the less, there's very little else to complain about as both the sound and picture are something to behold, the menu system is wonderfully designed and set out, whilst the extras will be much appreciated by its burgeoning legion of fans. You really couldn't have asked for much more from a television series box-set. Never mind a rental, just get yourself a copy of CSI : New York. Highly recommended.

  • Audio Commentaries for Blink, Creatures Of The Night, Outside Man, Officer Blue and Night Mother
  • The Science Behind The Scenes
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