CSI: NY The Complete First Season

CSI: NY The Complete First Season (2004-2005)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, Eddie Cahill, Vanessa Ferlito, Carmine Giovinazzo, Hill Harper
Extras: Commentaries, Behind-The-Scenes Featurettes

If you're looking for the bright lights of Las Vegas or the sun-soaked streets of Miami, you won't find it here. Instead you will be taken into the underbelly of the streets of the "Big Apple", New York City, for this third incarnation of the tremendously popular hit series from the "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" franchise. Different location, different cast, same terrific writing, cinematography and awesome production value, and not to forget those ultra-cool high-tech gadgets and techniques used to help the skilled team of forensic investigators solve the brutal criminal situations they encounter.

Under the watchful eye of Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) his team, made up of smart-witted Detective Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes), rugged Detective Don Flack (Eddie Cahill), Medical Examiner Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper), younger up-and-coming CSI Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) and his partner Aiden Burn (Vanessa Ferlito, who has since left the show).

To be quite honest, when this series first debuted, I was a bit skeptical. I thought to myself that the recent flock of spin-offs from successful crime-drama style shows, such as "Law and Order" and "CSI" had surely hit its peak, with year after year bringing yet another take on our favorite storylines and familiar formulas. After tuning into a few episodes of "CSI: NY", my hesitation quickly ended as this version of the popular "CSI" series really does manage to deliver something new, something that is far grittier than its two predecessor(s). With the terrific leading presence of Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, Apollo 13), playing an ex-marine turned CSI Detective who lost his wife during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, really does add a sense of reality and depth to his character, while giving "CSI: NY" a truly original New York "feel". This series has quickly distinguished itself as a stand alone crime-drama, rather than another basic re-hash of the same old spin-off style that we have seen appear in our living rooms time and time again.

Paramount Home Video presents the CBS crime-drama "CSI: NY The Complete First Season" on DVD with a remarkable anamorphic widescreen transfer, displaying an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The presentation is clean and clear of any dust or dirt particles, but unfortunately exhibits minor video compression, in the form of fine grain that is present throughout various scenes. It is an effect called "mosquitoing" and is a result of packing four 43 minute episodes, loaded with commentaries and sound options onto one disc, which could have been alleviated by spreading the episodes over one or two more discs, but since this set already offers up seven separate DVDs, where do you draw the line? Deep rich black levels and superb color saturation more than make up for the minor visible compression, which work nicely together to showcase the often dark locations and use of blue filters that produces a terrific "look", while allowing flesh tones to remain natural in appearance throughout.

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (with the option of a Spanish 2.0 Surround presentation) delivers everything we have come to expect with a solid production like the CSI series. Bass levels were nice and deep maintaining naturally appearing vocals throughout, while highlighting the great opening theme song of "Baba O'Riley" performed by The Who that continues the consistent theme of presenting songs from the band to open up both CSI and CSI: Miami. The mix is appropriately suited to the overall material being presented, with good conservative use of surrounds that does not overwhelm the vocals or main effects present in the front three channels.

Paramount Home Video has included a nice compliment of added value materials that have been exclusively reserved for disc seven, with the exception of the seven separate audio commentaries available on various episodes. A great featurette titled "CSI: NY The Cast Examines the Characters" offers discussions from the main cast members along with input from the creators of the show explaining their decisions to cast actors that have either lived in or are from New York, to add more dimension to the overall production of the show. "The Science behind the Scenes" focuses on Bill Haynes, a real-life CSI whose sole job is to ensure the scientific principals are sound, from idea to final production, adding to the authenticity of the show. "CSI: NY Set Tour" introduces you to the production designer and construction coordinator who take you through the main sets exploring various hidden details, which I found to be quite interesting.

"The Worlds Largest Crime Scene" which provides fans with the reasons to locate the third incarnation of the "CSI" franchise in New York, a city that offers limitless possibilities of great locations making up the backbone to some pretty original storylines used throughout the show. Adding further contributions from the creators, who discuss their reasons to film a decent portion of "CSI: NY" in New York City to capture the heart, culture, passion and diversity of the city, while the bulk of the show is actually filmed in Los Angeles. Rounding out the extras is "The Zoo Year", a short segment that introduces you to the vast amount of animals that were included in the first season of "CSI: NY". From rats to elephants, the animals are the real stars of this featurette, which is sure to put a smile on your face as you appreciate the uniqueness of this special feature.

You really don't have to be a devoted follower of either "CSI" or "CSI: Miami" to enjoy "CSI: NY". I can honestly say that this show will provide you with a solid entertainment experience that truly does stand all on its own or as a full compliment to both of its predecessors.