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CSI: MIAMI - SEASON ONE - EPISODES 1.1-1.12

Region 2 (UK) Edition

Reviewed by Mike Hadfield

Directors:  Joe Chappelle, Tucker Gates, Scott Brazil, Bryan Spicer, etc.

Featuring:  David Caruso, Emily Procter, Adam Rodriguez, Khandi Alexander

Horatio Crane (David Caruso)

Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Proctor) and Horatio Crane (David Caruso)

THE EPISODES

They say ďlightning doesnít strike twice!Ē  Yet Jerry Bruckheimer has proved them wrong. In fact, you could take all his lightning strikes and run a small countryís national grid with them! Not content with producing some of the biggest blockbuster movies of recent times (Top Gun, Armageddon, Pirates of the Caribbean), he has now cast his magical spell over American TV. 

First, Bruckheimer gave us CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, set in Las Vegas, which follows a team of forensic police detectives solving all kinds of grisly and gory crimes. This became an instant hit on the other side of the Atlantic, and quickly gathered a huge following over here, where, thanks to Channel Fiveís quick purchase, it became essential viewing on Tuesday nights. A well-plotted and fast-edited programme to keep you guessing right till the end. 

After a couple of seasons, the producers decided to create a spin-off, CSI: Miami. Like its older brother, it follows a team of forensic detectives, but this time working in the brilliant sunshine and magnificent scenery of Miami-Dade county. The leader of this small team is Horatio Crane, played to perfection by David Caruso (formerly of NYPD Blue fame). 

Horatio Crane always strives to control the situation around him, and stops at nothing to root out the culprits in whatever crime he is investigating. He is ably supported by Calleigh Duquesne (pronounced Dew-kane, played by Emily Procter, ex-West Wing), Eric Delko (Adam Rodriquez, ex-Roswell), Medical Examiner Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander), Timothy Speedle (Rory Cochrane) and Megan Donner (Caruso's NYPD Blue squeeze Kim Delaney). This is an ensemble that gels incredibly well.

The cast all look fantastic - whether roaming along sandy beaches or searching hotel rooms for vital bits of evidence. The only problem with the characters is that you donít really become involved with them. They come along and work with each other to piece the clues together but you donít really get to KNOW them! The original CSI quickly built up a background story for all its key cast members. However, by the end of the first half of Miami we still donít know much about their personal lives, so donít really care about many of the characters. They are not as ílikeableí as their Las Vegas counterparts. Despite this, the quality of acting makes up for this deficiency.

In terms of production, they really pull out the stops for the first episode. We have a small jet crash into the Everglades that has to be seen to be believed. Itís amazing what can be achieved on television these days! This first episode, Golden Parachute, launches us immediately into the search for answers, with members of the team arriving and getting to work quickly and efficiently. 

The look of the production is very bright, especially compared to the Vegas version (now informally known as CSI: Vegas, to avoid confusion) which is usually very dark. This was obviously a stylistic approach taken by the producers to make the programme look quite different to its predecessor.  Happily, the snappy-editing and camera work that characterise the original CSI series is also featured here and this gives it a very familiar feeling.

Across the episodes in this half-season set, we have a number of unusual deaths and situations. One of my favourites is Losing Face, regarding the teamís search and analysis of the aftermath of a bomb attack. This second episode is even better than the first. Remarkably this standard is maintained across all the episodes. Most US TV series are patchy at best. Scenes are given added impact and urgency by the use of handheld cameras Ė making you feel part of the action. This works very well indeed. CSI: Miami also has itís fair share of gory moments Ė this is definitely not a series for the squeamish!

Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Proctor)

Megan Donner (Kim Delaney)

THE DVD

PICTURE QUALITY

CSI: Miami was deliberately shot with very saturated colours and distinct bright lighting to give it a different visual feel. It really does look like no other series on TV. I am happy to say that Momentum have also given us a first-class transfer. Colours are stable and there is no sign of bleeding or edge enhancement. Whether you are watching fast action sequences or the more subdued and slower sections, the colours are vibrant and clear. This DVD has rock solid images with no picture artefacts at all. Channel Fiveís broadcasts of the show were very good but this is a whole new level! Video is presented in its original 16:9 anamorphic widescreen ratio. MPEG-2 encoding is excellent (6.1Mb/sec).

The menus (which are also 16:9 widescreen) are animated and have sound effects. Navigation is obvious and clear. Each episode has just three chapter points. English Hard of Hearing subtitles are also available.

AUDIO PRESENTATION

Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at a bitrate of 448kbps). Quite simply, this is the best surround mix for television I have ever heard!  It is stunning! Dialogue is firmly centred but the effects and music envelope you from the rear speakers with amazing clarity. In fact, all the speakers are used to great effect and it gives you a truly cinematic experience in your own home. The sound mixers of this programme deserve many awards for what they have achieved here.

Chief Medical Examiner Alexx Woods, M.D (Khandi Alexander)

Horatio Crane (David Caruso) and Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Proctor)

Megan Donner (Kim Delaney)

THE BONUS MATERIAL

Extras for this release are fairly superficial but still nice to have. They are:

CSI Miami Trailer (1m) (4:3 ratio).

This is a typical promo clip for the pilot episode and was intended to promote the series on US TV. The sound is quite íhissyí. This is an R2 exclusive extra.

Commentary on Golden Parachute by Joe Chappelle (Director) and Steven Maeda (Writer).

I was pleased to have a commentary on the pilot episode, by its writer and director, because it allows them to give us a good insight into the film-making process. They explain how the look and feel for the show was established, and also describe the great difficulties the pilot had when shooting in the Everglades. Itís a great technical commentary and left me wanting to hear more. Letís hope we get some more insights like this in the next set.

Creating CSI:Miami and CSI:Miami Uncovered 

These two twelve-minute featurettes provide interviews with many members of the cast and production team. They are not intended as full in-depth documentaries about the programme but do serve to introduce the characters and situations. We get a fair amount of behind-the-scenes coverage showing members of the cast and crew enjoying themselves. Everyone seems to be having a ball making this series, and that shines through in the finished episodes. Both of these featurettes are presented in 4:3 format.

Horatio Crane (David Caruso) and Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Proctor)

Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez)

Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Proctor)

SUMMARY

The only disappointing aspect of this release is that itís only half the season. Why does Momentum continue to release programmes in half-season sets? Itís about time they joined all the other companies (Warners, Universal, etc) in releasing full season sets. 

It would also have been a nice touch to give us the first ípilotí episode for CSI: Miami (the characters were introduced in one of the final episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's second season, Cross-Jurisdictions). This was included on the US full-season box set but has been omitted here. It appears that it will not even be included on the second half of the season either.

Despite these quibbles, Momentum has created a superb set. They have taken care in preparing the episodes for DVD and as a result have given us the very best transfer you are likely to see from a TV series. Full marks also for creating a truly impressive sound mix. Great Show! Great Discs! Buy them now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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