The strange appeal of CSI: Miami

The strangely comforting cliches and pretensions of CSI: Miami...

Every week, I hope it will happen. Just once, after detective Horatio Caine delivers one of his daft pre-title sequence one-liners, moments before The Who leap in with Won’t Get Fooled Again, will someone, anyone, thump him?


I’d rather like it to be Frank, that plodding sap of a detective who trails in the wake of the sleek CSI personnel like a whipped dog after a cruel master. Nothing too vicious, just a smart punch to the smug Caine face, accompanied by a “take that, you dismal, sanctimonious windbag”.

I feel so strongly because Detective Horatio Caine (David Caruso) is the most pretentious TV hero ever and the star of one of the most exquisitely stupid television dramas of recent decades. Both of which make CSI: Miami so annoyingly enjoyable.

Watching CSI: Miami, week in and week out, is strangely comforting, like being lost in a rather pleasant, recurring, surreal dream. It’s always the same – sun; speedboats; a constant supply of idiotic and thus disposable Miami bimbos placing themselves in deadly peril; Horatio standing perpetually feet apart, as if he’s expecting a flock of sheep to run, single file, through his legs; and murder plots so unrealistic they make our home-grown crime drama tosh (Waking the Dead; Wire in the Blood) look like gritty police training videos. Oh, and the first person they interview is invariably the killer.

And let’s not ignore that sheen of glamour covering everything and everyone like sticky goo. The CSI HQ resembles the interior of a Harvey Nichols store and its personnel, particularly the women, dress for work in the most inappropriate outfits (Catherine Willows in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is similarly inadequately attired, thanks to all of those dinky vest tops she seems to favour).

The creepy female pathologist – the one who strokes corpses while calling them “poor baby” – is the worst repeat-offender with her shoals of tumbling curls (a sure-fire crime scene contaminant) and her insistence on turning up to bloody murder scenes in elegantly tailored white trousers.

But really, these characters are mere satellites to the planet-sized ego called Horatio Caine. Horatio is CSI: Miami, in all of its tacky glory. It’s Horatio who, with staggering feats of personal bravery, gets to save the world.


And what’s more, he gets to save the world while wearing sunglasses and without ever removing his jacket. Recently he drove a bomb-laden four-wheel drive into the desert, blew it up and sauntered away, casually adjusting his sunglasses and murmuring “burn, baby, burn”. Classic Horatio, classic CSI: Miami.