CSI (2000- )
CSI: Miami (2002- )
Type: Spin Off
Quincy crime crackers caught criminal killers again when CSI debuted in 2000 (sorry, ran out of alliteration there).
Okay, they weren't actually Quincy. Quincy was a coroner with too much free time on his hands who solved crimes. CSI stands for Crime Scene Investigators and that's who the show focused on. Not cops or coroners, the CSI folks are scientists who pour over the details of a crime scene looking to find the evidence that will tell them what happened. They are the cool geeks supreme. I mean heavy science might seem like a yawn but using minute details at a grisly murder to catch the bad guy, that's freaking excellent.
When the show debuted it was without much fanfare. The attention actually went to the new show it was paired with, an updated version of the 60's show The Fugitive. But as it turned out The Fugitive flopped and CSI earned a loyal following. It got hot enough that CBS put it on after its HUGE hit show Survivor where it flourished. They'd put it up against NBC's big hit drama ER and it would easily hold its own. It was the grisly geeky little engine that could.
CSI was set in a town guaranteed to supply reasons for murder and glamour - Las Vegas! The head man was Gil Grissom. He was a quiet antisocial type. Not to say he was an mean unsociable guy just that he wasn't one to, say, go out and party. His hobby? Insects. Often he could end up telling quite a bit about a crime based on insects. Seriously. Grissom's philosophy also set the tone for the team. You might have someone you want badly to nail as the culprit of a crime but you have to go with what the evidence tells you. In other words let the evidence point to who did it rather than picking who you want to be guilty and trying to force the evidence to fit what you want to be the truth.
Catherine Willows was just below Grissom in the chain of command. She was a single mother and an ex-stripper turned investigator. Warrick Brown was African American and the top junior member of the team, the one most likely to advance next further up the chain of command. His only fault was that he was recovering from a gambling addiction. Nick Stokes was the handsome, trusting good guy who often would leap before he looked. He almost found himself losing his job when he was nearly accused of the murder of a call girl he had fallen for (believing she was leaving the business to go back to college). The whole time his career was in peril his main concern was his dead girlfriend. In the end the killer turned out to be the girl's pimp who told a startled Nick that his girlfriend had not planned to leave the business but to become a madam and run her own group of prostitutes. Sara Siddle was the eager to advance younger female member of the team. Like Nick she often lead with her heart when she should use her head. Against better judgement she bonded with one assault victim who was left in a permanent vegetative state inappropriately promising (promising) the victims family she would catch the person responsible. That's a huge promise she could not be sure she could keep. Like Grissom she was also a bit of a recluse, to the point where the death of a girl who was also a recluse with few friends struck a little too close to home.
The show also had a distinct and visceral visual style. If someone was theorizing what might have happened during a crime the show would go to a clip showing that theory meaning you would regularly see incorrect versions of the crime with the wrong person shown committing the crime. And if they were talking about how a bullet entered someone's body and the damage it did, often times they would include an up close bullet-eye point of view of the event.
Like I said, this show was a surprise hit for CBS and CBS started hoping they had a potential franchise on their hands. NBC had taken the show Law & Order and, as of this writing, created three other spin off shows from it. If they could similarly spin another hit show off of CSI how great would that be? So mid way through the show's second season the CSI team found themselves involved in a case that reached all the way to Miami, Florida. While most of the team chased the Las Vegas evidence, Catherine headed down to Florida to check out the evidence there with the help of Miami's own CSI team.
The Miami team had a distinctly un-Grissom leader. Horatio Cane unlike Grissom lead with his heart rather than his head. His team had no problem finding a good suspect and working the evidence towards catching them (Horatio was played by David Caruso in what promised to be a huge comeback for him after his controversial departure from N.Y.P.D. Blue and then failed attempt at a movie career). The rest of the team was similarly unique and suited to the unique Florida environment (not much need in arid Las Vegas for people with knowledge of swamps and scuba diving). The episode was I suppose a pilot for the new CSI: Miami. I mean it was a pilot but really, who are we kidding? CSI: Miami was a done deal before this episode aired. Rather than a pilot episode where the point is to see if a spin off is possible, this was a test run of a sure thing just to see if any kinks needed worked out.
Further detail on CSI: Miami will have to wait till its Fall 2002 premiere. But come on. This sucker has hit show written all over it. Don't take no CSI to see that.Other CSI: Crime Scene Investigations Links
CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY: The Trilogy
Other CSI: Miami Crossover Links
CSI: Miami and CSI: New York
CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY: The Trilogy
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Buy these shows on Amazon.com and support this site at the same time! Check out CSI and CSI: Miami on DVD! The episodes talked about in this article can be found on the CSI The Complete Second Season DVD set and the CSI Miami The Complete First Season DVD set.