CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Ninth Season [Blu-Ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jeremiah Chin (5th October 2009).
The Show

When I first heard that Laurence Fishburne was joining the cast of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2000-Present) I was really disappointed that one of my favorite actors had been reduced to just showing up on another police procedural show. I’ve never been a huge fan of the shows, just because they all seemed really similar: crime, solve, fixed, everybody happy (or sad if it’s a dramatic episode). Fishburne seemed like a part of an exodus of good actors to TV police shows with Vincent D’Onofrio, Tim Roth, Harvey Keitel and Jeff Goldblum showing up in their respective shows in differing dramatic/comedic, hero/sidekick capacities. What I didn’t really realize is that the fairly generic nature of the crime solving show gives a lot of room for the actors to play around in. The procedural shows are just that, procedures that you go through every time with a little different twist to each crime and episode, but the characters all have their quirks that they have to bring to the fairly generic format of the show. Which also makes a lot of sense as how the crime genre of shows can carry on into infinity by simply refreshing its cast; coming into the ninth season of “CSI” I would have thought it to be the same format and tired show, but Fishburne brings a freshness to the cast after the departures of Jorja Fox, William Petersen, and Gary Dourdan.

The ninth season begins in investigating the death of Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) after he was murdered by the undersheriff, contributing to Grissom’s (William Petersen) departure from the CSI unit near the middle of the season. Before leaving though, Grissom needs to clear out his caseload, bringing him back to a serial killer who seems to have reappeared in Las Vegas despite having been in jail for years serving two consecutive life sentences. At the same time, Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne) is conducting an investigation into the same serial killer in one of his classes, interviewing him before the class. Grissom picks upon Dr. Langston’s skills and brings him in to the CSI team as a final move before leaving for Costa Rica. Langston doesn’t replace Grissom as the lead investigator, but works from the bottom up as a regular CSI, learning the process of investigation.

The main undercurrent plots of the show are mostly kept below the surface of the episodes, bringing a connection over the course of the season, but really bringing a new crime or two to investigate every other episode, with a couple of two part-ers mixed in for good luck. It’s a bit of a relief to watch a show not in a serialized format and just be able to jump in and out of the show, rather than feeling like I’m reading multiple books, with some character drama moving over between episodes. Langston is a cool character, another super intellectual character who doesn’t seem to have all the answers every time, but helps bring me back into the show a little bit. Down to the little crimes in each episode is where CSI tries to make it’s separation from other shows, with it’s more signature flashbacks to the crime and heavy CG that brings you through the course of a bullet or through the body as the heart stops beating.

What really strikes me about “CSI” came up through seeing the viewership of season nine and some of the older seasons. Looking at the broadcast ratings for the time, that’s when “CSI” really peaked, and just glancing at the other big crime shows of the time like “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit “ (1999-Present) or even the original “Law & Order” (1990 – Present) all experienced upsurges in viewers, peaking at the same time right after September 2001, possibly indicating a huge interest in crime shows that were solvable considering the global political situation at the time. While it may seem like a topic more for a college paper for a media and society class, I think there’s something to be said about different procedural dramas within the United States with these self contained, and quickly solved, crimes being able to soothe some sort of craving.

That’s a lot of guesswork and conjecture, but looking at shows like "CSI" that continually look for something fresh and new, like a Laurence Fishburne, makes more sense to me in how they are trying to revitalize their shows. There will always be a place for procedure shows, just look at how long the “CSI” and “Law & Order” franchises have been running, but bringing in fresh actors and a fresh face can spark that sort of move in ratings when people aren’t jonesing as much for a quick fix of justice. Season nine brings the fix, and Fisburne’s tremendous acting talent makes it seem a little more fresh, but it’s still the same “CSI.” Plus there’s appearances by “Lost” (2004-2010) actors Cynthia Wattros, Marc Vann and Mark Pellegrino over the course of the show. “Lost” connections and Laurence Fishburne? Good enough for me.

There are four episodes on each disc of this set, the episodes in the season are:

- “For Warrick”
- “The Happy Place”
- “Art Imitates Life”
- “Let It Bleed”
- “Leave Out All The Rest”
- “Say Uncle”
- “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda”
- “Young Man With A Horn”
- “19 Down…”
- “One To Go”
- “The Grave Shift”
- “Disarmed & Dangerous”
- “Deep Fried & Minty Fresh”
- “Miscarriage Of Justice”
- “Kill Me If You Can”
- “Turn, Turn, Turn”
- “No Way Out”
- “Mascara”
- “The Descent Of Man”
- “A Space Oddity”
- “If I Had A Hammer”
- “The Gone Dead Train”
- “Hog Heaven”
- “All In”

Video

The entire season is presented in 1080p 24/fps in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with VC-1 encoding, and each episode looks really clear in the "CSI" style. A big concern for the show would be it’s penchant for the low lighting, blue-hued lab scenes to give a colder lab feel, but in the transfer it still shows up clear and clean with all the blacks and blues coming through clearly in the scene. The outside night and daytime scenes all work equally well on average making for an overall impressive transfer for a show in the ninth season. There’s some grain and you can see the quality on some of the CG flash sequences, and the lighting styling of some scenes can get on my nerves, but the transfer is a great quality that minimizes on grain and murky colors.

Audio

Like the video the English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit presents a really crisp and clean transfer that brings together the background noises well with the different sound effects of the crime scenes or the whirring of gadgets in the lab, even the opening themes. The sound moves well and seems to come through clearly, though the little intro burst music they use right after the opening witty line is a little much. Still, a nice clear transfer to go with the clean visual presentation makes for an overall solid presentation that adds to the visual appeal of the show.
There’s also a Spanish DTS 2.0 stereo track available on each episode along with English for the hearing impaired and Spanish subtitles.

Extras

Across the 6-disc set are spread out with featurettes, deleted scenes, special viewing mode picture-in-picture features for specific episodes, bonus trailers along with access to BD-Live features on each disc.

DISC ONE:

“Crime Scene Initiation” runs for 14 minutes and 44 seconds. This featurette goes into welcoming Laurence Fishburne for the show, speaking with present and former cast members that departed this new season. It does a little bit in covering how Fishburne got cast into the show, lots of praise for Fishburne’s tremendous acting talent, as well as the impact of bringing him in from the bottom up in order to refamiliarize the audience with process. It’s not a bad featurette, but many of their comments about process are easily picked up from watching the show, though there are a few behind-the-scenes insights picked up from the interviews that aren’t bad.

There is a single deleted scene on episode 902 “The Happy Place” which runs for 2 minutes and 4 seconds. It’s an interrogation scene with a few flashes to gambling, dealing with the gambling problem and sex of the victim.

Episode 904 “Let It Bleed” has an "interactive investigative mode" picture-in-picture feature, which appears with a 1 minute and 5 second introduction explaining the mode. It basically presents a picture in picture with interviews periodically throughout the show, adding in some featurettes by clicking on a magnifying glass and a text background through clicking on the fingerprint. Overall it’s not a bad feature, there’s some interesting parts in the making-of and through the interviews, but I would rather have them through a simple featurette rather than having to click through an entire episode to get what I wanted or just a straight up commentary. The fingerprint is only midly interesting, while the magnifying glass featurettes are pretty interesting dealing with the stunts and effects involved in the scenes, like falling out a window or the effects in a scene.

Bonus trailer on the disc are:

- “Star Trek: The Original Series on Blu-Ray” runs for 1 minute and 21 seconds.

The disc also features BD-Live access, for more detail on these features please see disc six.

DISC TWO:

There are no special features on this disc (outside of BD-Live access, for more detail on these features please see disc six.).

DISC THREE:

Episode 909 “19 Down…” has a selection of deleted scenes, which play all together for 1 minute and 35 seconds. Scene 14: Sanders is promoted to CSI 3. Scene 15: Wendy and David discuss his mom picking out his clothes. Scene 19: David finds something odd in an x-ray.

Episode 911 “The Grave Shift” includes a “CSI Mode (Comprehensive Scientific Information Mode)” which is basically a trivia track that runs throughout the course of the episode with different information about the sort of equipment, procedures or techniques a Crime Scene Investigator will use in the course of their work. Mildly interesting, though it’s more about the tiny details involved in the show that aren’t fully explained but get mentioned in the course of the show.

The disc also features BD-Live access, for more detail on these features please see disc six.

DISC FOUR:

This disc features the first of two audio commentaries across the set, this one being on episode 916 “Turn, Turn, Turn” with actor George Eads, guest star Taylor Swift and episode writer Tom Mularz. This commentary mixes between informative and sort of boring, with some little bits about filming schedules and putting together the scenes from the actors or little jokes about some scenes that don’t quite hit with me. Mularz and Eads of course do a fair amount of praise for Swift in acting out the episode, but what I really would have liked was a commentary somewhere on the set from their "CSI" consultant that does a little bit on the first interatctive picture-in-picture track. Overall not a bad commentary, but definitely not engaging unless you’re big into Taylor Swift and “CSI.”

Episode 914 “Miscarriage of Justice” includes a deleted scene which runs for 45 seconds, in the courtroom where Catherine speaks at the bar with the Judge and two attorneys in a motion to dismiss the case.

Episode 915 “Kill Me If You Can” features the "interactive investigative mode" picture-in-picture, same as featured earlier on episode 904, running through the episode with the introduction, running 1 minute and 7 seconds on this episode, along with the same fingerprints and magnifying glass, along with picture-in-picture interviews on the episode. Again, they’re interesting and shed some light into the details of the show, but I still feel they could have better accomplished with a commentary track and some separate featurettes. I do like the fact that they can be accessed as the scene is playing, I would think that with Blu-ray they could just jump into the featurette and have it available separately as well rather than having it only available by watching through the whole episode and jumping for the remote.

The disc also features BD-Live access, for more detail on these features please see disc six.

DISC FIVE:

The audio commentary track is on the episode 920 “A Space Oddity” and is with writer/producer Naren Shankar and actors Wallace Langham, Liz Vassey, writers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle. The cast and writers/producer go through the episode talking about the different references in the show, as well as the fun they had playing around on set, though there are a few too many pauses for my taste. They forget the title of “Event Horizon” (1997) as well as talking about the behind-the-scenes work on the sci-fi fantasy sequences, but it’s more about the joking of the cast rather than Shankar talking about the episode itself (though most of that already came through in the large featurette that played before).

The first of the featurettes on the disc is “Rats in Space” which runs for 27 minutes and 20 seconds, dealing with bringing the lab technicians into their own episode for the show through the sci-fi convention in episode 920 “A Space Oddity.” There are some good behind-the-scenes looks at the show, turning it into a larger making-of for the episode, with some solid interviews from the supporting, recurring cast of the show along with producers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle to work their sci-fi know how on the episode. It runs a little long for covering just a single episode, nearly as long as the episode itself, but it’s still fairly interesting and a good featurette.

“From Zero to 200 in Nine Seasons” featurette runs for 18 minutes and 56 seconds, covering the 200th episode of the show and it’s diffeerneces. A good portion is spent praising the episode’s director William Friedkin in constructing the episode and merging it into the character arcs with the show. It’s a cool look behind-the-scenes of the episode, talking with the director and producers about how the episode was put together from top to bottom, as well as the big celibration for cast and crew after the episode was complete. It’s a neat look behind one of the more different episodes of the show as well as a big turning point in the show.

Episode 920 “A Space Oddity” features a deleted scene that runs for 3 minutes and 21 seconds, Wendy and Hodges meet up at the sci-fi convention and he says some sweet words in the sci-fi alien languages before walking over to see the set, before seeing the dead body.

The disc also features BD-Live access, for more detail on these features please see disc six.

DISC SIX:

“Good-bye Grissom” runs for 17 minutes and 39 seconds. This final featurette talks with procuders Carol Mendelsohn, Naren Shankar and others about the departure arc of the character of Grissom and William Petersen from the show, featuring an interview with Petersen talking about his personal plans for the future. Like the other featurettes it includes some good looks behind-the-scenes of filming the episodes leading up to the departure along with flashbacks to a younger William Petersen, but is still a little longer than would really be necessary.

There are deleted scenes on two episodes on this disc:

- On Episode 921 “If I Had A Hammer” the scene runs for 1 minute and 27 seconds, Undersheriff Ecklie tells Catherine about a case that has been reopened and they reminisce.
- On Episode 922 “The Gone Dead Train” the scene runs for 49 seconds, Dr. Langston tells Nick about the finding of rabies and they run through the possibilities.

Finally there us a host of BD-Live features for profile 2.0 players only:

The BD-Live features are accessible through any of the six discs and offer up some bonus videos, access to the BD-Live community and a whole bunch of bonus trailers, these features are examined below:

First up is the “CSI Handbook,” a conglomeration of text descriptions of CSI terminology accumulated, in alphabetical order into 3 categories: “Evidence,” “Tools,” and “Procedures.” The text itself is mildly interesting if you’re into forensics, but it’s pretty dry reading.

Next is a “CSI: Deadly Intent” game preview which is simply a trailer for the game available to stream through BD-Live or downloadable to your hard drive or SD card. It runs for 1 minute and 16 seconds.

Next are the exclusive "CSI" bonus videos entitled “CSI Incidentals,” 3 total, available streaming in standard definition or downloadable in standard definition and high-definition, they include:

- The first is with Jorja Fox talking about Grissom’s hat that he wears when he meets up with her character in panama at the end of the 10th episode, this featurette runs for 1 minute and 13 seconds.
- The second video is with Eric Szmanda talking about what he likes in the show and finding humor in the situations, it runs for 1 minute and 49 seconds.
- The final "CSI Incidental" is with William Petersen, runs for 1 minute and 20 seconds, and he talks about the Large Hadron collider being built in France and how the idea of the question influenced Grissom.

The CBS BD-Live community gives access to essentially a Blu-ray based fan forum for the show.

There is a “More TV Series on DVD” section, that is simply a poster gallery for different shows also released by CBS including 10 images for shows like “Dexter,” “CSI” and “Numb3rs.”

Finally is a collection of three bonus trailers, though none in HD, including the best thing I’ve seen on this entire set (it’s the third one):

- “CBS Paramount Comedy” runs for 1 minute and 30 seconds.
- “TV’s Best” spot runs for 2 minutes and 14 seconds.
- “Twin Peaks Gold Box Edition” runs for 1 minute and 45 seconds.

Overall

The Show: C+ Video: A- Audio: A- Extras: C Overall: B+