Go back to CSI: NY – The Game

Written by: Rik

Date posted: March 29, 2013

It’s my considered opinion that the original CSI, set in Las Vegas and featuring Gil Grissom et al, is by far the best. The spin-offs are, by definition, derivative, and followed swiftly after the original became a hit purely to prevent rival networks from cashing in on the forensic science format. (I’m sure I read a quote from one of the producers saying he had to rip off his own show before someone else did it, but I’ll be damned if I can find it now).

So, what was once a fairly original concept soon became knocked out of shape, adapted and watered down. The big thing about CSI was always that they weren’t cops, they were scientists – but then along comes silly old CSI: Miami and suddenly the crime scene investigators are cops, and what’s more, that Horatio Caine sure is handy with a gun. Bah!

CSI: NY sits somewhere between the some-basis-in-fact-but-still-unlikely approach of the original series and the frankly ridiculous sci-fi pantomime that is Miami. Early episodes hinted at gritty intentions, with everyone skulking around morosely under a dim blue hue, and the host city presented as a wretched hive of scum and villainy. At some point after the first season, though, that all went out of the window. NY was reimagined as a modern, glamorous and cosmopolitan location for murder, the sun came out, and the actors re-emerged with more makeup, snappier clothing and snarkier dialogue. Evidence analysis suddenly involved less of the grimly sawing through bone and more of the ridiculous big-font-on-big-monitor ‘MATCH FOUND’ type stuff. I just watched an episode where someone died of radiation poisoning at a Maroon 5 concert (once they’d finished playing a song, of course) – which should tell you all you need to know about the direction things have taken.

So, it’s a glib, glossy and throwaway show, but one that remains pretty watchable. My main problem with it is that too many of the characters are bland, unlikeable, or both. The original CSI (and I’m talking pre-Fishburne, pre-Danson) had a great ensemble, with each character interesting in their own way. CSI: NY has one or two good characters, but the others are largely interchangeable. And speaking of the characters, well, I’ve watched the show a bit – here’s a bit about each of them:

Mac Taylor: Mac, played by Gary Sinise as a rock with a snarling mouth drawn on it, is the head of the New York Crime Lab. He likes to talk about how the science will lead the team to find the killer. Except when he says it, it comes out as, “mumble mumble mumble mumble…EVIDENCE.” Mac’s wife died in 9/11, which is of course very sad, but the sight of a potential love interest for him showing up in an episode is normally a cue for the most toe-curling scenes imaginable and I have to hide behind the sofa. He sounds a bit bored when delivering his dialogue in the game, but then, he sounds bored anyway, so I can’t really tell whether he’s trying or not.

Stella Bonasera: Mac’s second in command. I’m sorry, but Stella is dull. And mean. It sort of worked at the start of the show when everyone was all downtrodden and depressed, but since it got all fab-whizzo and techie, she just seems a bit like a smug robot busybody. Her performance in the game is pretty good, though.

Danny Messer: He’s a bona-fide Niew Yiorker, and says things like, “Boom!” and “Yo!” a lot. Refers to Mac as “bawss”. And so on. Danny is actually one of the more interesting characters on the show: he’s a bit of a wild card, and he’s got a bit of a troubled past and – ooh! – he’s terribly handsome, too. In the game, though, he sounds about as fed up as it’s possible to sound. And he doesn’t say “Boom!” either. Also, his likeness has come out a little bit weird.

Lindsay Monroe: Ferried in from Montana during Season 2 after Aiden Burn got fired (translation: the actress didn’t want to do it any more), Lindsay has an on/off thing with Danny for a while (until [redacted]). Her character doesn’t seem to do much but her ‘thing’ seems to be providing unnecessarily long-winded explanations for things while the other characters give her a ‘just get on with it will you’ kind of look. Delivers dialogue with moderate enthusiasm in the game.

Sheldon Hawkes: The Medical Examiner in Season 1, he inexplicably decides to give that up for life as a CSI. As ME, he was a bit of an oddball; as a CSI he seems a bit of a peripheral figure and doesn’t get given much to do. In the game, he sounds as if he was asleep when the dialogue was recorded.

Don Flack: It’s Tag from Friends! Flack is the normal cop who sort of follows the CSIs around for some reason. I don’t understand – if the CSIs are detectives, why is Flack even there in the first place? Anyway, Flack is also a Niew Yawk native, and can be relied upon for a sarky quip or a put-down in each episode. Looks better since he got rid of his quiff and leather jacket, although there remains a strong suspicion that he wears lip gloss. In-game performance depends on whether he’s delivering something Flack might say in the show (fairly good) or not (sounds as if he’s reading it, to himself, for the first time).

Sid Hammerback: Effectively replaced Hawkes as ME. Sid’s main defining characteristic is his breakaway glasses – they clip together at the front! In the game, he sounds like the guy from the TV show.

Adam Ross: The nerdy lab guy who’s a bit like Greg Sanders, Adam doesn’t turn up until Season 2 – replacing a hotch-potch of different characters, including a woman with a terrible English accent and the dude who gets shot at the end of The Fast and the Furious (you know, the Giovanni Ribisi-on-a-budget guy) who’d previously appeared in a similar role. Adam provides the show with a much-needed sympathetic and light-hearted character, and to watch him bumbling around while stone-faced Sinise stands there looking grizzled can be fairly amusing. Delivers a good performance in-game, even though he’s cruelly been excised from the opening credits.