CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Ninth SeasonOverview -
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
For years now the original 'CSI' has been lumbering along as a continuous ratings juggernaut, pulling in viewers like nobody's business. It has been one of the most consistent shows out there over such a long period of time. The ninth season shows no signs of slowing down, because this is the season where everything changes. Season eight ended with the death of Warrick. Season nine picks up with the investigation into Warrick's death and Grissom's continuing dislike for the job.
We all knew at the beginning of this season that Grissom was finally going to step aside and let someone else take the reigns. About half-way through the season Grissom is replaced, during a two episode arc, by a medical doctor/college professor played by Laurence Fishburne.
If you've spent your life watching this show, seeing Grissom go is one of the more emotional moments of the series, along with Warrick's death. Fishburne fills in nicely, but he's just no Grissom, that's for sure.
By this time you either know you really like 'CSI' or you don't. 'CSI' does have its fair share of stand alone episodes, so following along with storylines isn't that hard to do. There are some story threads and well-known characters that pop up every so often, but for the most part 'CSI' is one of those shows that you can sit down and watch with minimal knowledge about the show itself.
The ninth season has much of the same stuff we've come to expect from the franchise. Murders abound in Sin City and it's up to the CSI Las Vegas squad to solve them. I'm always constantly surprised at what 'CSI' gets away with on network television. From explicit episodes centering on sexual bondage, to extremely graphic slow-motion violence, it's hard to see how this thing doesn't have a mature audiences rating. The bondage episode alone houses enough questionable content that one could see a movie with the same content getting an R. Perhaps because we're dealing with "science" here, CBS gets away with airing some of the stuff they do.
Speaking of the science behind the show, I'm nowhere near qualified to say what is believable and what's not, but I'm pretty sure that most laboratories out there testing blood samples aren't lit up like a neon dance club. Those are the types of things that just make you have to laugh at the show. The quick cutting, neon lit montages of them testing various substances are among my favorite scenes. Only 'CSI' can make testing hair follicles look as exciting as a rave.
After nine years 'CSI' is still going strong, pandering to its already large fan base. This 'CSI' has already spun off so many spin-offs I've lost count. People love the forensics I guess. I'm sure real-life CSI techs don't actually do as much as the TV people do, as they question suspects, get confessions, and even arrest people. Scientists with guns and power!
If you've been buying up the 'CSI' seasons on Blu-ray you'll remember that the first season of the show came to Blu-ray with a 1080i presentation. The ninth season, however, is given the full 1080p treatment featuring a VC-1 encode.
I'm just going to come out and say it, this is one of the best looking TV shows out there, no matter how corny some of the laboratory set dressings are. 'CSI's signature smooth, neon look is intact. The entire season features nicely detailed shadows and wonderfully deep blacks. The nighttime Las Vegas flybys that help transition from scene to scene are a wonder to look at (although aliasing does pop up every now and then). Detail is crisp and clear, almost too clear. There are times, like with the guy who was tied to the bottom of a car and had his face rubbed off, where I was hoping that the detail wouldn't be very clear, but it was. Contrast is starkly defined, giving 'CSI' that dark, gloomy effect that works so well with the series. Daytime scenes burst with color and vibrancy. It's true that the CG effects that zoom the camera into the body to look at something like blood cells still look rather silly, but credit to the show for sticking with what has worked for them and playing it up.
While throughout its 24 episodes the picture isn't always consistently striking, this is a great looking transfer and in the world of TV on Blu-ray, one of the best.
From the opening theme song of "Who Are You?" to the closing credits, this DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 presentation is booming with life.
Loud, is one word to describe it. The theme song hits you like a ton of bricks when it starts. The LFE rumbles, the lyrics screech. The rear speakers are almost constantly engaged in producing and ambient soundfield that engulfs you. From crowded crime scenes, to the lively streets of Las Vegas, the ambient sound provided here is top-notch. Dialogue is always clear, and isn't even drowned out by the booming soundtrack. Flashbacks feature great effects and some stellar bass. When the camera dives into the human body and starts floating around the blood stream to show us exactly what happened, your entire sound system is transformed. Like you're actually shooting down blood vessel with sounds that may make you grimace. Although, if you grimace easily 'CSI' probably isn't the show for you anyway.
The video on this release offers a remarkable example of high-definition, but the sound here just might outdo it.
- Audio Commentaries – Located on discs four and five, the episodes with commentary are episode 16 called "Turn, Turn, Turn," and episode 20 called "A Space Oddity." Commentaries would have been nice to have on every episode, especially with 24 episodes it's a little disappointing to only see two episodes turn up with them. What's even more disappointing is that these commentaries take place after Grissom is gone. If any episodes needed commentary it was the two episodes in which Grissom comes to the end of working with CSI. Those would have been much more insightful and meaningful commentaries.
- Crime Scene Initiation (HD, 15 min.) – Located on disc one, Laurence Fishburne and Lauren Lee Smith talk about being new to the show, how they fit in, and how it was different when Petersen left the set.
- Rats in Space (HD, 27 min.) – A look behind the scenes at the episode "Lab Rat." You'll find this feature on disc five.
- From Zero to 200 in Nine Seconds (HD, 19 min.) – That's right 'CSI' has reached 200 episodes. Here the feat is lightly chronicled featuring director William Friedkin and how the entire show reached such a landmark point. This can also be found on disc five.
- Goodbye Grissom (HD, 18 min.) – Even though I'm not the biggest 'CSI' fan in the world, Grissom leaving is quite the event, even I know that. Here we're given a look back at the character and how Petersen was instrumental in creating the final story arc for Grissom. It was pretty neat to see the admiration everyone has for Petersen and his character and the trust he was given to send off Grissom on the right note. Found on disc six.
- Deleted Scenes (SD, 8 min.) – Spread across most of the discs are deleted scenes here and there that aren't really worth watching.
By the ninth season you know if you're a fan of 'CSI' or not. If you've gotten this far in the review, I'd say you're pretty interested in the show, and I don't have to convince you further that this is indeed a set that should be in your collection. The video and audio are just about as good as it gets on TV Blu-rays, while the supplements package gives a lot of information for loyal fans as well as providing some insightful, albeit sparse, Blu-ray exclusive PiP features. This set comes recommended for fans, but anyone who wants a likable show on Blu-ray might think of picking this one up as well.
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