CSI: Miami (2002- )
CSI: NY (2004- )
Type: Spin Off
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation premiered on CBS in 2000 to little fanfare. It wasn't really expected to amount to much. In point of fact it became CBS's mondo franchise. The hip slick show about Vegas based scientists solving crimes (usually murders) with science and analysis was such a success that spin off shows were pretty much inevitable. First the original CSI spun off CSI: Miami with a case that took some of the Vegas folks off to Florida to work with their counterparts in Miami. Then the Miami folk got involved in a case that led all the way to New York City in an episode that served as a pilot for CSI: NY.
The pilot was just a technicality really. A nice promotional tease at the end of one season to hype the new show's premiere in the fall. I mean it's not like they were going to higher major stars, shoot the CSI: Miami episode and then go, "Gee... lets maybe not do this." Yeah, that'd happen.
All the shows share a similar base premise. Bad crime happens, the team moves in and through scientific analysis they solve the mystery of what happened. Bad guys go to jail. The end. That similarity has led to fear in some quarters that so many similar shows will dilute the uniqueness of the original. CSI star William Petersen in particular didn't want his show to go from being viewed as a stand out original to being viewed as a cookie cutter show interchangeable with its spin offs.
There may be some basis for that fear but I think as of now that shouldn't be a concern. For me the interesting thing is watching how each show starts from that same base and builds up a completely different and distinct vibe. The original CSI's visual style is all about the flash and colors of Vegas. When someone presents a theory about what might have happened the show flashes to a graphic representation of what might have happened. All the shots in Miami have more of an orange/red tint to them. Sometimes it almost feels too extreme (for me at least). Theories about what might have happened are shown in a similar way to the original CSI but with... I dunno... a slightly different style. CSI: NY, being set in the colder section of the west coast has a bluish tint to everything. Not sure why but I buy the blue tinting much more easily than the orange of Miami. Maybe because I've seen winter on the east coast and damned if it isn't a bit blue.
My favorite thing was watching the CSI: Miami episode that introduced the New York cast. They did funky cool things with the tints. CSI: Miami's investigator Horatio Caine goes to New York and meets up with his New York counterpart Detective Mack Taylor. Mack Taylor is awash in the blue New York tint. Yet even though he is in New York, when Horatio appears he is lit in a bright spot of the orange Miami style light. Nice touch. Either that or those lucky Miami bastards can actually take the sunshine with them!
New York also features a very distinct New York style on other ways. The cutting is littered with paparazzi style photo snap effects. Transitions are often accompanied by a flair of light from the bottom corner like light sneaking into a phot and overexposing it by accident. The style of the shows, "What might have happened," shots are also very different. Instead of a cutaway to the imagined scene, the investigator is shown at the scene with what they imagined to have happened appearing as a ghostly image over top of the location. Kinda creepy cool.
The style of the investigative groups is also quite different. The Las Vegas team are all friends but with boundaries. They all get along great and care about each other but I get the feeling that if we were shown their home lives that they wouldn't all be necessarily hanging out together after work. Friends at work but different home lives. The Vegas team is also very facts oriented. Gil Grissom will tell his team to let the evidence tell them what the truth is and not to try and force the evidence to fit what they want to happen. The Miami team are more emotional in their work but seem even more removed from each other in terms of friendships. There are some characters in Miami that I'm not even sure really like each other. But Horatio's Miami team leads with the heart. The are more than willing to make a theory about what happened and then try to make the evidence fit if it is a case of trying to put a clearly scummy guy away. The New York team seems to try to mute their surface emotions but their actions speak to how emotional they really are and how much they really do care about each other. For example when a key witness is too scared to come in and ID a suspect, Detective Stella Bonasera is crestfallen to know a rapist is going to go free without the ID and that the poor girl is just to scared to help. No fist pounding though. No, "DAHHH !^!^@$$&!!!" Nope she goes and showers and showers clearly just trying to wash the ick off of herself, out of herself. When she comes back out Mac Taylor gives her a heartfelt pep talk about not giving up on lost causes, on how he doesn't. It was a display of real friendship and sympathy. Not that the Vegas and Miami bosses wouldn't offer support. I just think it would be more boss to underling whereas with New York it was more friend to friend. Then Bonasera hunkers down to go over all the evidence one last time because this case is so important to her. It's clearly overtime labor she doesn't have to do. One by one her teammates come into the lab and without a word put on their work smocks and on their own time just start digging in to help her because it's important to her. Again, not that the other CSIs wouldn't help each other but it was a unique form of help I haven't seen on the other shows. No need to ask for help. It's just given. And not on a case where they're helping because their teammate's life is on the line but simply her heart. Seriously.
Okay, now it just sounds like I'm kissing CSI: NY's arse. The fact is I like all three. The Vegas team caring but not always connecting, the Miami team's righteous need to help the good and put the smackdown on the bad and New York where they help each other and the people of the city because at a certain level New York is all one big neighborhood and you look after and take care of your neighbors.Other CSI: Miami Crossover Links
CSI: Miami and CSI
CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY: The Trilogy
Other CSI:NY Crossover Links
CSI: NY and Cold Case
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: Miami and CSI: NY on DVD! The crossover/spin off episodes for these shows can be found in the CSI: Miami Complete Second and Complete Fourth Season DVD sets and the CSI: NY: Complete First Season DVD set.