Since the departure of Gil Grissom, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation has become, more often than not, a dull and turgid thing, which is a shame as it was once the most mighty of all police procedural dramas.
Grissom was the beating heart of CSI, giving blood and life to his small team. Now he’s gone, they are quietly dying. I feel for Laurence Fishburne, who admittedly doesn’t directly replace Grissom – Grissom’s deputy, Catherine Willows, has taken over – but he was brought in to fill a Grissom-sized gap. He can’t, through no fault of his own, largely because his character, Dr Raymond Langston, is so poorly scripted and realised. And dull.
So, in my sorrow, I have a) taken solace in the endless CSI repeats of Grissom episodes on Five USA and b) transferred my affections to CSI: NY (Saturdays, Five). This has always been the Cinderella of the CSI franchise, right from its rocky birth.
CSI: NY took an entire series to find its feet. If you watch repeats of season one you’ll see it was very dark, washed-out, grimy, gritty and urban, which didn’t seem to go down well with anyone (though I always liked this lack of sheen as it fitted with the dark side of New York). It returned with a second series covered in a CSI gloss after producers, worried that it was too grim for audiences, ordered a rehash.
I pretty much lost faith in the shiny new CSI: NY but recently it’s burrowed its way back into my affections. I like the team – impassive, plastic boss Mac (Gary Sinise) I can pretty much take or leave because he’s a bit too right wing and a bit too keen to give us his views on the death penalty (he’s pro). But his satellites are a good bunch. From glamorous Stella to lab nerd Adam, they coalesce nicely in a way that the ridiculous CSI: Miami’s shimmering personnel simply don’t.
To me the ludicrous Horatio Caine’s staff members feel as if they’ve simply turned up out of nowhere, like well-dressed strangers at a bus stop. There’s no sense that they are part of a wider picture.
I don’t even mind that CSI: NY’s writers attempt to give their characters personal lives – widower Mac occasionally has a poised and glamorous lady love-interest that you just know won’t last more than a few episodes, and Danny and Lindsay are a proper item now that she’s pregnant with his baby.
To judge by some of the halfwitted dribbling fury of a certain section of the show’s fans that greeted this particular move, you’d think that the sky was about to fall in. But it feels right. And it’s sweet.