The SmarK TV Rant for CSI: Season 5, Episode 1

The SmarK TV Rant for CSI – Season 5, Episode 1

“Viva Las Vegas”

– Originally aired September 23, 2004

“Hey, Gil, you’ve got something stuck to your shoe. Oh, wait, it’s just Sanders.”

After the past week of gloomy and depressing CSI spinoffs, it’s great to have the original back and kicking so much ass. What always made the original show so great was the mixture of dark humor and fleshed-out supporting characters, and the season premiere showcases that in spades.

Off-season strife was the name of the game last month, as regulars Jorja Fox and George Eads were both fired from the show briefly for showing up late (which was written into this episode as a one-off joke between them) before renegotiating their contracts and returning in time for filming to start. And former 24 hottie Reiko Aylesworth was added to the cast to replace Eric Szmanda, who was seemingly on his way out of the DNA lab and into the field.

The thing that really turned me onto the show when I started watching on a regular basis was that it was based around Gil Grissom, but he very rarely solves things single-handedly or hogs the spotlight, even though as executive producer, William Peterson COULD take the character in that direction whenever he wanted. Even better, Gil is a very human character, who says dumb things and makes mistakes when it comes to dealing with other people, unlike the Rock of Gibraltar that is Horatio Caine. While the character, and the show, does have dark moments, it’s just so much more FUN than the other two.

And just because it’s a special show this week, we get FOUR murders for the price of one this time”¦

The Setup

Four very different dead bodies show up in the span of one night. A golf-ball salesman dallies with a stripper and she winds up dead the next morning, and he can’t remember anything. A man goes to a nightclub, lights a Polaroid on fire, and takes a bullet in the head. A loser in a fleabag motel is discovered dead in the bathtub with a hotplate sealing his fate. And kids out shooting off guns by Area 51 trip over what appears to be an alien body.

The Investigation

The show follows all four investigative tracks at once, as follows”¦

1. Grissom takes Greg Sanders with him to work the nightclub shooting, using it as a proficiency test to see if he’s ready for solo field work. While Greg proves to be adept at piecing together the motive for the killing and finding the evidence, holding his pee while working a crime scene proves to be his undoing.

2. Catherine Willows takes the stripper death, and while the salesman claims total amnesia about the night in question, the pimp/boyfriend of the stripper looks guilty as hell. However, despite the seemingly violent nature of the death and the buckets of blood in the hotel room, the truth proves to be more mundane. This storyline also finds Catherine’s nightclub-owner boytoy fooling around with a waitress, thus ending that plotline dead.

3. Warrick Brown handles the dead loser, who was apparently two weeks in debt to the landlord and a chronic gambler. However, evidence suggests he got lei’d the night before, and thus was $50,000 richer coming home to his suicide. So where’s the money and why did he kill himself? The truth is unsurprising.

4. Nick Stokes and Sara Sidle handle the “dead alien”, who just turns out to be a dead reverend dressed like an alien. The investigation leads them to the wacky world of Vegas weddings, and Reverend Elvis seems suspicious. He cops to finding the rival rev dead, but finds out that there’s “dead” and then there’s DEAD.

Not only did they find time to intersperse those four stories comfortably and satisfyingly, but also worked in new DNA geek Shandra (Aylesworth) and had her get tormented by everyone in the team, to boot. At the end she quits and Greg fails, so who knows if it’s a recurring role now. I think it would give them too many characters to have Greg in the field and her in the lab, but she’s hot so keep her around anyway, I say!

The Good

– Two depressing stories were mixed with two light-hearted stories and the result was a very even episode that bounced along nicely from start-to-finish. I wouldn’t want four murders a week, but this was a nice change of pace.

– The growth of Greg Sanders into a field agent after years of being a DNA lab-rat has been handled really well, when it could have overexposed a funny character instead.

– In a week of big stars dominating the CSI shows, Grissom was kept to a minimum, which is where he works best.

The Not-So-Good

– What is WITH Nick’s new haircut?

– The “Sara has a drinking problem” thing is about as uninteresting to me as Warrick’s gambling or Grissom’s hearing. I want stories about the DEAD PEOPLE, not the lives of the CSIs.

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