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Giant American TV broadcaster CBS, and mega film producer Jerry Bruckheimer teamed up to create what is now the biggest show on air – CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The show quickly became the centrepiece for the CBS network, amassing tens of millions of viewers throughout the States. Its introduction into foreign airspace was met with similar reception and acclaim, and the show is now watched by some fifty-million globally – not too shabby at all is it?

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Series


Taking note of this immense popularity, Mr. Bruckheimer and co. decided the time was ripe for more of the same, hence the introduction of the spin-off CSI: Miami in 2002. Another two years later, the same team decided to really milk the franchise and create yet another spin-off, this time set in the gloomy back alley’s of New York. But is this show – aptly named CSI: New York – merely an unnecessary cash-in, or a genuinely worthy show?

There is no easy answer to that. I suppose if you take into account that the show is well written, beautifully and traditionally presented in the usual CSI style, and sports some truly innovative direction, then I guess you could say that it is indeed worthy. But is it really necessary? Do we really need three CSI shows on air at the same time? To be perfectly honest, I am not so sure we do. I love the original, I love the characters and the format, and I love that it is the biggest show in the world right now. I also like CSI: Miami, but to a lesser degree. CSI: New York however, is the weakest of the three in my opinion. It’s still great, and certainly a lot better than most shows of this nature, but I cannot help but feel it’s all a bit pointless.

Still, who can argue with its technical merits and skilful writing and acting? Ultimately, even though CSI: Miami and New York may appear to be mere cash-ins, they do at least offer plenty of quality entertainment, and don’t have the usual drawbacks most spin-offs have. The format for all three CSI’s might be the same, and even the character attributes and story principles are similar, but the quality of this entertainment is top notch. How long all of this will hold up is anyone’s guess, but it will most likely be CSI: Miami or New York that suffers from repetition if the foundations begin to crumble.

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For now though, you can enjoy watching these grisly stories of murder, rape and other such nauseating crimes unfold in CSI: New York. You can also enjoy the greatness of one Gary Sinise and co. solving these crimes in the usually polished CSI fashion. It might all be very formulaic, but it is far from being too long in the tooth. I foresee many more years still left in this great franchise, but one day it will most likely fall apart – perhaps the only one and most regrettable disadvantage to producing three of these things in one go. But who knows, only time will tell, right?

This DVD set contains just the first twelve episodes of season one, and most of these episodes are truly great, though one or two are mildly predictable and not very thrilling. I don’t quite understand why these companies decide to release one half of a season instead of just releasing the whole thing a little later on. The only advantage this method offers is that you don’t have to wait quite as long to see the first batch of episodes, but to be quite honest do you really want to revisit episodes that you saw only a few months previously? Personally, I’d rather wait slightly longer, pay less overall, and re-watch them when every single detail isn’t so fresh in my mind. Still, if you don’t mind this method of distribution then you won’t really find much to complain about. If you’re slightly more money-conscious like myself, then you’ll probably find reason enough to grumble at this release.

The episodes contained in this set are thus: ‘Blink’, ‘Creatures of the Night’, ‘American Dreamers’, ‘Grand Master’, ‘A Man A Mile’, ‘Outside Man’, ‘Rain’, ‘Three Generations Are Enough’, ‘Officer Blue’, ‘Night Mother’, ‘Tri-Borough’ and ‘Recycling’. You will have to wait a few more months to catch the last half of the season on DVD, but if it’s as good as this first part then you can look forward to plenty more great episodes. Meanwhile, you can catch new episodes of CSI and CSI: Miami on TV and on DVD. If you’re new to the franchise, then you’d probably be better starting with the original, but there’d be no harm beginning here all the same. Take your pick; all three shows are superb in their own little ways.

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Video


With the show being so dark and gloomy, the cinematography style has a bluish-grey tint to it that carries over very well to the DVD. The image is mostly free of noise, and everything looks both sharp and highly detailed. If one thing can be said about most of the CSI DVD releases, it is that the image quality is very cinematic in both presentation and quality. CSI: New York is no exception. The only real gripe I have with the image here is that it is very dark, sometimes too much so. Of course, the show is made to look like this, but some scenes are just a tad under the belt as far as darkness is concerned. Still, this does give the impression of gloom the producers were no doubt flying for.

Audio


Crisp, clear and gorgeous to listen to, the Dolby Digital 5.1 score for this DVD proves to be meaty and succulent. Dialogue is spot on, music even more so. In at nutshell, CSI: New York sounds as cinematic as it looks, which is to say that for the most part everything you hear is far beyond most other television shows out there. The Dolby track handles all of this sound with greatness and supreme clarity, so much so in fact that I cannot think of any one complaint to be made. Crank up the volume (and sub) and you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re watching and listening to a modestly budgeted film.

Extras


What better reward is there than several episode-long audio commentaries on a TV series DVD? I cannot really think of a better one myself, and CSI: New York does indeed come fully loaded with a handful of them – each making for a great and entertaining listen. ‘The Science Behind the Scenes’ is a short but sweet feature about all the technical science the show boasts, from its realism and its undertaking etc. It’s an enjoyable feature, though it could have been and probably should have been extended.

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Overall


CSI: New York is a fine show indeed. It might not be quite as good as its predecessors, but then again they have got a few seasons head start over this show. Gary Sinise is perfect for the part, and the usual qualities of the CSI franchise are well and truly in tact here. The DVD is a fine one too, with great video and superb audio respectively, and the extras are bound to please. Overall, this is a great DVD, and one which you will likely not hesitate to purchase if you're a fan of the show.


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