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Paramount Home Video presents
CSI: NY—The Complete First Season (2004)

"You're not a doctor, you're a killer with a medical degree."
- Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: October 19, 2005

Stars: Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes
Other Stars: Eddie Cahill, Vanessa Ferlito, Carmine Giovinazzo, Hill Harper
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations, violence)
Run Time: 16h:51m:00s
Release Date: October 18, 2005
UPC: 097368772847
Genre: television

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A+ AA+A+ A-

DVD Review

The original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, chronicling these evidence experts in Las Vegas, was a huge hit from the beginning, and is still the #1 show on television. This overwhelming success made it natural to spawn spin-off shows focusing on similar groups of people in different cities. First came CSI: Miami, which I actually find more entertaining than the original series, thanks to a stronger cast that is led by the criminally underrated David Caruso. Then, in 2004 a third series premiered, CSI: NY, starring a lead actor who is already a household name (thanks to his role as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump), Gary Sinise.

The first episode of first season actually has Caruso and many of the other Miami cast members sort of introducing us to this new crew. This cross-series idea proves to be a great one, as it establishes the different look that these two cities generate. Miami has that sunny, overexposed paradise look, while New York City is all about grit, and streets where crime is a natural thing. Caruso's Lt. Horatio Caine is pure cool, never letting anything rattle him, while his hair is always perfectly groomed, regardless of the dangerous situation he's in. Sinise's Detective Mac Taylor is what New York is all about; an ex-Marine tough guy who isn't afraid to get physical with the toughest of assailants. I was partial to Sinise before seeing a single episode of CSI: NY, but it didn't take many installments for that opinion to change.

After the first episode in this set, the New Yorkers get to go it alone. In Blink, Mac uses the body of a murdered woman to find a serial killer that imprisons his victims before killing them. We see right away what this team is all about, with each of these forensic experts utilizing their specific talents to solve this seemingly unsolvable mystery. The rest of the episodes feature more of the same evidence inspections and subsequent killer-catching, but each one is unique enough to thrill us, and there are quite a few highlight entries. Grand Master takes us into the world of a New York DJ who is stabbed to death after winning a contest, we take a journey into the city's underground in A Man a Mile, and The Dove Commission delves into a shooting that is possibly tied to police corruption. The season finale, What You See Is What You See, finds Mac in a diner where he is right in the middle of a double shooting. He faces a tough choice (similar to the one faced by the protagonist in the recent film, A History of Violence) as to whether to chase the gunmen or tend to an injured waitress. This incident eventually leads to another decision for Mac; one that will test if he is truly over his wife's death, and ready to move on with his life.

Sinise is fantastic, bringing the perfect amount of wit and machismo to a role that calls for him to be the toughest of the CSI leaders. I'm hoping one of the franchise's future spin-offs finally puts a woman in the leader role, but Sinise's sidekick here is as close to a female leader as the series has come to date. Stella Bonasera (Providence's Melina Kanakaredes) is a smart, powerful woman who isn't afraid to get her hands dirty and has a subtle, exotic look that makes it difficult to turn away when she's onscreen. The rest of the cast is excellent as well, with special mention going to Hill Harper as the coroner, Dr. Sheldon Hawkes, and Carmine Giovinazzo as Danny Messer. Eddie Cahill is also solid as Detective Don Flack Jr., but the only person I just couldn't wrap my arms around was Vanessa Ferlito's character, Aiden Burn. Ferlito is gorgeous and does all that she can with the role, but it's underwritten and needs to be developed a bit more in future seasons.

The aforementioned gritty look of CSI: NY is one of the most unique TV viewing experiences you'll have. The movie Se7en will instantly spring to mind when you see the New York City setting for the first time. While I'm sure the real city isn't exactly this dark and gray, the cinematography in this show takes us right onto these streets. The show takes full advantage of the capabilities that go with being shot in high definition, and thankfully these DVDs come very close to recreating every minute detail of the original HD broadcasts.

Similar to the rest of the CSI series, most of the NY episodes are of the standalone variety. Sure, the series is linear in the sense that the characters are consistent and there are relationships among them that are touched on throughout the season, but it's very easy to miss a show on a given week and not lose out on any key plot points. This is also the reason I'm not an avid viewer of any of the CSI shows, but, after giving NY a fair shake thanks to this DVD set, I'll be tuning into all of these shows on a weekly basis from now on.

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: These anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen presentations come as close to the original HD broadcasts as possible. The black and contrast levels are virtually perfect, adding incredible amounts of depth and detail to each and every image that we see on the streets of New York. The fleshtones are incredibly accurate, as the sharpness is ramped up to complete these shows' incredible look. Good luck finding any dirt, grain, or other blemishes, even though if these did exist, you'd probably be too busy marveling at the way things look to even notice them.

Image Transfer Grade: A+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Spanishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: To say the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is active is a major understatement, as this is one of the most immersive tracks I've ever come across for a TV show. The surrounds are constantly being used, but are low key at the same time, never interfering with the crisp dialogue. The bass is very effective, whether a sound involves the busting down of a door or a gun being fired, but it stays within the overall mix quite nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade: A+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
5 Featurette(s)
7 Feature/Episode commentaries by 1. MIA/NYC Non-Stop by Ann Donahue2. Blink by Anthony E. Zuiker3. Creatures of the Night by Pam Veasey4. Outside Man by Timothy J. Lea5. Officer Blue by Anthony E. Zuiker6. Recycling by Timothy J. L
Packaging: custom cardboard cover with sl
Picture Disc
7 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: While most of the extras are on Disc 7, there are also seven audio commentaries that are spread out among all of these DVDs. There are different participants for each track, but there's plenty of interesting behind-the-scenes information to go around. The discussions on MIA/NYC Non-Stop and Blink are the best of the bunch, but all of these are worth a listen.

Disc 7 has five featurettes that explore various aspects of the show's production. The Cast Examines the Characters is a 14-minute piece that has each of the principal cast members going over the nuances of their respective characters.

The Science Behind the Scenes runs for six minutes and has technical advisor Bill Haynes going over how his forensic experience added to the realism of CSI: NY.

CSI: NY—Set Tour is a nine-minute segment where production designer Carey Meyer shows us most of the sets that are used to film the show.

The World's Largest Crime Scene runs almost nine minutes and goes over the choice to make New York City the site of the latest CSI series.

The last featurette, The Zoo Year, is just over nine minutes of footage with the various animals that were used in CSI: NY's first season.

Extras Grade: A-


Final Comments

Arguably the best of the CSI shows, CSI: NY got off to a great start during its inaugural season. This new cast of characters are a great compliment to their Las Vegas and Miami counterparts, carving their own niche among TV's technical crime solvers. Paramount Home Video's DVD set does an excellent job recreating the high-quality audio and video presentations that existed on TV, and there are some nice extras spread out among these seven discs.


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