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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Watching CSI: New York 

9:45 PM last night: "Sarah, the CSI pilot is on in fifteen minutes."

My dad had reminded me of something I'd meant to do but kept forgetting about: watch the pilot episode of CBS's upcoming hit spinoff, CSI: New York, which would air as one of the Miami episodes. Now, every time the whole forensic science degree comes up in conversation, the Number One Question I get asked is, "ooh, so is it like CSI?" To which my stock answer is, "well, no, not exactly. Two main differences: One, CSIs would never interrogate suspects. And two, we'd kill for the kind of equipment they get to use." Which is, of course, why non-profit ventures like the Crime Lab Project get started. But I digress. Point is, I had a vested interest in watching the pilot ep because I went to grad school in the city, know the ME's Office reasonably well (the NYPD to a much lesser extent) and of course, have a pretty good working knowledge of how forensic science operates and is regulated within the confines of New York. I'd venture to guess I'm not the only John Jay graduate or student who watched the show (although none of us would ever admit it; and no, my class (at least) didn't watch any of the CSI shows during our time in school. What was the point?)

So my thoughts? Well...

To my credit, I watched the whole thing, but had to give up on making any sense of it about halfway through. So my comments will be limited to bullet notes:

-Wow, I didn't know the morgue in the ME's Office had turrets.

-The real NYPD would kill to have the kind of equipment the tv ones do.

-I've never seen anyone wear a "NY:CSI" jacket, especially since the real unit is called, well, the Crime Scene Unit, is stationed all the way out in lonely Jamaica, and takes their sweet time getting to crime scenes unless it's a major league Red Alert type of thing. And even then, they are late.

-I'm not exactly sure David Caruso could waltz into a crime scene and not get his ass booted out for crossing jurisdiction lines.

-The less said about any interrogation scenes involving a combination of Caruso, Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, or anyone else who isn't a real cop, the better.

What finally made me give up was the geographic discontinuity. So...the morgue's in the basement of a hospital, OK that's sort of true. There is a morgue in Bellevue, but only natural cause or highly unsuspicious deaths get to park themselves there--the rest go up the street to the OCME. And the NYPD crime lab is supposed to be in the premises? Well OK, suspension of disbelief, but then they show the Queensboro Bridge and I think, "hey wait, maybe the lab IS in Jamaica!" But then it's back to being in Manhattan again, and I scratch my head.

But of course, this is TV, and realism doesn't make for good TV most of the time. Problem is, the dialogue and storyline was crap. Caruso looking into the teen girl's eyes after her parents have been killed and promising her to "get the killer" no matter what, even if it means the department has to fork over a wad of money to send him to NYC? Cheese. Pure cheese.

I used to like Gary Sinise too, but he came across as stiff and stilted, phoning in a performance. Kanakaredes looked about as confused as I did (is she a CSI? an MLI? I have no idea) and worst of all, New York looked weird and fake, this artificial darkness creeping in to signify "hey, this is New York." Feh.

I know to much, I really do. But hey, I tried.

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