C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation – The Complete Seventh Season – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Created by
Anthony E. Zuiker

Cast:
William Petersen … Gil Grissom
Marg Helgenberger … Catherine Willows
Gary Dourdan … Warrick Brown
George Eads … Nick Stokes
Paul Guilfoyle … Captain Jim Brass
Eric Szmanda … Greg Sanders
Jorja Fox … Sara Sidle
Robert David Hall … Dr. Al Robbins
David Berman … David Phillips
Wallace Langham … David Hodges


The Show:

You would think that after seven seasons on Television that CBS’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigation would probably be coming to that point where creative ingenuity was starting to run out. Even with the flash this series brings with it, being produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, so many shows of this type tend to “jump the shark” eventually, and with a formula series like CSI it would probably seem easy to just rest on its laurels and start to phone it in. Surprisingly though, this show just keeps on going, and never seems to get tired.

Even as CSI’s lead, William Peterson, took some time off this season, the show never lost momentum. Knowing that Peterson wouldn’t be in every episode, one actually had to wonder how the show would hold up. CSI Producer’s seemed to have an ace up their sleeve though, in the form of Liev Schreiber. Schreiber, a terrific actor in his own right, starring in films such as The Manchurian Candidate and The Sum of All Fears, fills in nicely for Peterson’s Gil Grissom as Michael Keppler, a transfer CSI from Baltimore. While most shows would probably just try to disguise a change like this until the main character returned, CSI decided instead to do whatever it could to get you to really connect with Schreiber’s character.

The actor seems to thrive on this show, bringing his own ticks and mannerisms to a series that is already loaded with quirky personalities. You really get a taste of what a quality actor Schreiber is, but it never feels like he’s a big fish in a small pond; Keppler is a terrific character that just blends in nice with the rest of the characters, even with just a short time period to work with. As we move along with Keppler too, we get clues into his past, which culminates in “Law of Gravity”, one of the best episodes of the season.

Stacking the deck, Schreiber isn’t the only guest star this season. This 7th year gets some great guest spots throughout, such as Alan Tudyk from 3:10 to Yuma and TV’s Firefly in the episode “Burnout”, as a man with a horrible past desperately trying to clear his name when people go missing. Installments “Post Mortem” and “Loco Motives” see a couple of veterans from HBO’s Deadwood, as Jim Beaver and Dayton Callie show up as a victim and a suspect during two key episodes to different running story arcs. Even Cirque du Soleil gets to show their stuff during the season’s two-part opener “Built to Kill”, where a girl ends up dead backstage at one of their performances.

My favorite single episode guest stars though, end up being some pretty unique performers. As the owner of a brothel where a bizarre murder takes place, Peter Stormare (Fargo, Minority Report) hams it up in the episode “Ending Happy”. The installment is ridiculous in a lot of ways, but mostly due to Stormare’s performance, as well as the show’s patented flashbacks turned in horror movie style sequences. The other big guest role is from legendary rocker Roger Daltrey, who gets to be so over the top you literally won’t even recognize him. I don’t want to go into too much detail because the surprise is half the fun, and fun is what is had in his fantastic episode.

The big difference between this season and past ones is the emergence of season long story arcs. Brilliantly weaved into these episodes, we got two storylines that just wouldn’t stop reappearing, each with different emotional ramifications for the show. First up is a type of coming of age stage for CSI Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda), as he stumbles upon an assault and ends up saving a life, but not before taking another. The arc creates an emotional quandary for Greg, especially after the family of the boy he kills seeks legal action.

As good as that story is though; the one everyone will remember from this season will be the Miniature Killer. The team stumbles upon a series of murders, all oddly connected as an old woman, an aging Rock Star, a laborer and others are brutally dispatched, each crime scene featuring an exact scale model of the crime. Each is perfectly constructed and befuddles the CSI team. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much about the crimes, but I will say that this is one of the most compelling aspects of any CSI season I’ve ever seen. When the final moment of the season finale rolls through you’ll be begging for more.

So without a doubt, the shark was kept at bay this season by a series that keeps evolving and showing us just how entertaining it can be. Somehow, CSI manages to stay clever, showing us that there seems to be no end to finding interesting ways of killing people. It’s rare to find a series that is as solid as this show is, especially this far into its run. Hopefully, if they’re able to keep up their ingenuity and momentum, CSI could give us another seven years to look forward to.


The DVD:

The Video
The show is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and looks absolutely terrific. The show’s flashy camerawork and effects come out crystal clear with this beautiful transfer.

The Audio
The Audio track is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and is also fantastic. All the show’s amazing music is featured nicely, but it never overpowers the rest of the sound design.


SPECIAL FEATURES:

Inside Built to Kill – This Featurette goes about 9 minutes and shows how it came to be that Cirque du Soleil and CSI came together. We get a neat inside look at a Cirque production as well as how the episodes were constructed around their performance.

Miniature Murders – The biggest story arc of the season gets a 14 minute Featurette that is full of little tidbits on how the story was developed. Apparently they had built two different scales for the models this season, as one was for cast interaction and another was for filming inside the house.

Who Are You? – This is a terrific extra featuring Roger Daltrey’s appearance on the show. We get to see how The Who’s Who Are You? became the theme for the show and then how they came to develop this role for Daltrey. Apparently the episode he’s in started out as a supernatural episode before cooler heads finally prevailed.

Las Vegas: The Real Crime Solvers – This is a cool look at the real CSI crime lab in Las Vegas, which is really cluttered looking and not as sharp as the sets on the show.

The Evolution of C.S.I.: Season Seven – This 26 minute Featurette talks about the different ways that CSI changed as a show during this season. A lot of time is spent on the story arcs, including the miniature killer. I also like the extensive look we get at how William Peterson took time off and how it effected the show. Peterson apparently wanted to do some stage work and CBS allowed him to take the break so he could have a short run in Chicago.

Smoke and Mirrors: Directing Feature Television – We get to hear about the challenges faced by the directors on this series as they discuss just how difficult it is to stay ahead of the curve on this series.

Commentaries – There are commentary tracks on 7 of the episodes on this set by writers, producers and directors. All are lively, but none are groundbreaking or particularly memorable.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation – The Complete Seventh Season
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

9
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

9
OVERALL
9
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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