CSI/Channel 9 have really pissed me off. CSI was a fantastic show which I really enjoyed watching. It was good for a bunch of reasons all of which now seem to have faded away. They started fading away right around the time the spin-offs started appearing (CSI: NY & CSI: Miami)1.
Probably the major reason I enjoyed watching CSI so much was its complete lack of soap-opera tendencies. Many of the shows in the same genre2 (Water Rats, Bluehealers, All Saints 3) are little more than soap operas with a theme. The main focus in almost all the episodes is the interactions between the characters (i.e. who slept with who, who has a crush on who, the latest office rumours, etc.) rather than the episode specific subject matter (i.e. the crime being solved, etc.). So, even though the characters were well developed, the show's main focus was on the case at hand and not soap opera like interactions between characters4.
The next reason I liked CSI so much was the entire premise of the show; using hardcore science to solve interesting crimes. I just like that idea, and although it's very obviously TV science, there is still some pretty cool stuff going on. I guess eventually all the cool scientific procedures that can be used to solve crimes will get (have been?) exhausted and then you have to try and make the show interesting in other ways. As the show progressed it was easy to see the scales slowly tipping toward being a character driven drama over primarily being based around the case at hand and the science used to collect evidence, process it and solve the crime. At first I didn't really mind, after all, well developed characters are clearly going to add to the appeal of the show (not that they weren't already very well developed characters). Unfortunately, it's now going way too far. Where there were once script segments that could have been considered character development type stuff there is now rubbish that has promotional material like " the CSIs are in a desperate race against time to save a member of their team."
This leads me, conveniently, into what inspired this non-sensical, dead boring rant in the first place; last night's completely crap episode and season finale. The episode that aired last night was pushed hard by Channel 9, because, (a) it was the season finale, and they're always pushed hard, and (b) because it was directed by Quentin Tarantino. I figured these were both excellent reasons to watch the show and I was wrong on both counts.
As far as I could tell, Tarantino added nothing to the show. Tarantino, of course, has done excellent work on so many movies like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Desperado and Kill Bill. And that's just a short extract from the full list, based on the ones I've seen and liked the most. Now, I suppose you can't expect too much personalisation from a guest director on a TV series that needs to retain it's own style rather than adopt the style of the guest director for only one episode, but I must say, I expected much more than what I got. One of the characteristics of a Tarantino movie is his fantastic use of music and there wasn't even any noticably good music.
CSI is, by and large, a show which has self contained episodes (again, very different to your typical soapy type show). Aside from the occasional "to be continued..." and villain who gets away with it only to reappear in some later episode, you are pretty much guaranteed to get the satisfaction of seeing a crime well solved every time you sit down to watch. Not this time. This time, we have to wait until next year before we get the conclusion. That really pissed me off. I'm sure I'll make no difference to the fortune being earned by everyone involved in making CSI, but I won't be watching it again. The scales have tipped too far in the direction of complete rubbish.
- Which, incidentally, I find completely crap. [↩]
- I can't think of a good American example supporting my point here, so I'm offering some Australian examples. [↩]
- Ok, not a cop/crime show but it is (or was) in the same time slot as CSI and is a very good example of what I'm talking about. [↩]
- It's worth pointing out here that one other show in the crime show genre that does well at focusing on the case at hand in each episode rather than the characters' personal lives is Law and Order (all the varieties). Law & Order does a great job of keeping the focus off the characters' personal problems while still having reasonably well developed characters. That is, of course, aside from Ice-T's character who is perpetually sprouting superfluous one liners like "These people make me sick" which really needs to be said with his accent to fully appreciate exactly how stupid it sounds. [↩]