CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The First Season (2000) - Special Widescreen Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Mystery
Paramount || NR - 1026 minutes - $89.99 || May 12, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-04-28


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Anthony E. Zuiker (created by)
Cast: William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, Robert David Hall


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Pilot Episode Director's Cut
  • Episode Commentary
  • 2 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes/Outtakes
  • Gag Reel
  • Episode Promos


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (DTS-HD 7.1), Spanish (Dolby Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

“CSI” is the show that started it all. Not only did it spawn two spin-offs with the oft-hilarious “CSI: Miami” starring the unintentionally-hilarious-turned-intentionally-hilarious David Caruso, but “CSI: NY” as well with Gary Sinise (thankfully I think CBS has put a stop to any further spin-offs). It also gave way to so many other crime shows including “NCIS” (which I know was a spin-off from “JAG”) and even something like “Bones”; not to mention the numerous reality shows like “The First 48” or “The Real CSI”.

The show has also been criticized not only for its graphic violence (the aftermath, anyway) but also for placing an unrealistic idea on how crimes are really solved in the public’s perception. “CSI” also has apparently made some criminals smarter in being more careful when doing their crimes (leaving DNA, fingerprints, etc).

In any case, this first season of “CSI” starts off well enough despite some of the typical pilot weak spots: stilted dialogue, character interactions that felt forced... that sort of thing. But as the season progressed, so did the writing and acting as the show quickly found its groove. I think the creators realized people were more interested in the crimes, in combination with interesting characters such as Gil Grissom, than with character dramatics which, as it has been throughout the years, a minor element in any single episode (take for instance Grissom’s final episode in the Ninth Season).

What I’ve loved about the series over these now 9 years is that while the writers’ try to give background to the characters, the primary focus is strictly on the crimes and a creepy/haunting style. I like the fact I can miss an episode or two, tune back in and not miss a beat, which is one of the reasons I normally will not watch “24” or even “Lost”, both are entertaining shows but one’s that I will catch up with on DVD.

Now on Blu-ray “CSI” is one of the few consistent shows on television today. Sure, there have been some missteps over the years (such as a lousy conclusion to the ‘Miniature Killer’ storyline), but at the same time the cast, even with 3 key losses, has developed great chemistry with one another. Although the first season had its share of growing pains, its obvious why it has endured through the years and I can’t see it slowing down anytime soon.

Unlike its first spin-off, “CSI: Miami”, “CSI” has not become a joke in the sense that it spoofs itself even after all these years, something that could’ve easily happened. Even though it’s not exactly an awards-getter nor gets that much coverage on the Net compared to “Lost” or “Dollhouse”, “CSI” still gets decent ratings in a downturn for networks (only a few have grown, one being “NCIS”).

The first season stars the woefully underrated William Petersen, an actor who deserved more attention on this show than he generally received; Marg Helgenberger playing a character that could go from tolerable to annoying from one episode to another; Paul Guilfoyle, George Eads, Jorja Fox and Gary Dourdan.

EPISODES:
01. Pilot
02. Cool Change
03. Crate and Burial
04. Pledging Mr. Johnson
05. Friends and Lovers
06. Who Are You?
07. Blood Drops
08. Anonymous
09. Unfriendly Skies
10. Sex, Lies and Larvae
11. 1-15 Murders
12. Fahrenheit 932
13. Boom
14. To Halve and to Hold
15. Table Shakers
16. Too Tough to Die
17. Face Lift
18. $35K OBO
19. Gentle, Gentle
20. Sounds of Silence
21. Justice is Served
22. Evaluation Day
23. Strip Strangler



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Director’s Cut of Pilot – Available to watch with or without commentary by director Danny Cannon, this just features a few extra and alternate scenes that while fun to watch, made for a slightly weaker episode. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

“CSI People Lie... But the Evidence Never Does” (19:13) – This 2003 featurette was carried over from the first season DVD release. It features interviews with the cast and crew about just some basic topics.

CSI Season One – Rediscovering the Evidence (27:54; HD) is a new featurette with most of the cast (William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads, Eric Szmanda, Paul Guilfoyle and Robert David Hall) and crew (Danny Cannon, Anthony E. Zuiker). While it’s not a great featurette, I am glad we got to see some updated comments about the show’s success and other aspects like the style. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Deleted Scenes/Outtakes (10:04) – Including 2 deleted scenes from the pilot (with optional commentary), there are 9 scenes included on various episodes, most are fairly short and other than a relationship side story between Catherine and Nick, not all that interesting. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Episodic Promos – Probably the most fun (in terms of memory lane) of the features, these are the promo spots that aired for the first season. One thing that I found interesting was I didn’t remember that the show actually began airing on Fridays at 9... ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

BD-Live – After about 5-minutes of downloading, the CBS BD-Live site for “CSI” actually has a couple features: “CSI Handbook” with technical words and definitions; “Promo Gallery” with one production photo; and 3 “CSI Incidentals” featuring William Petersen (1:45), George Eads (1:35) and Robert David Hall (1:21) and are available in either SD or HD (Note: the HD version does take quite a bit of time to download). Since this review was published two weeks before the release date, more content will probably be added and I will update this review if/when that happenes. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

The Blu-ray also includes a standard gag reel (3:53). ** Blu-ray Exclusive **



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“CSI” comes to Blu-ray in a first for Paramount (releasing a TV series on BD) in 1080p high-definition. My first impressions were very positive, putting into perspective that this is a nine year old show, thus you are going to have some noise in darker scenes and the occasional dust marks. That being said, I found the picture to be pretty good with decent black levels (important given the tone), sharp images and nice looking skin tones.

Now, the biggie for me and probably other fans of the show is the fact that the first season FINALLY is presented in widescreen after the DVD (released in 2003), for some reason, was full frame only. After seeing early episodes in widescreen on Spike HD, I’m glad that it’s finally come to the home video market. And just so you know, the picture doesn’t just chop off the top and bottom of the full frame version (it’s done like all CBS/Fox shows do if you were to compare the SD and HD stations). Comparing it to my full frame DVD, it’s obvious the right and left sides were cropped out for the DVD version, so you are getting the full picture now.

Amazingly, Paramount has given this first season Blu-ray a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 audio. Although I couldn’t quite appreciate the 7 channels (having only 5 speakers right now), the audio is pretty darn good despite some synching issues that might be on my end. Again, when taking into consideration the show’s age, I thought dialogue was crisp and clear and the creepy music makes good use of all available channels. This is not an overpowering audio experience, but it is quite good nonetheless.



.::OVERALL::.

Out on Blu-ray, I know there’s much criticism over the pricing, and yes, at $89.98 (~$65 on Amazon), the SRP is steep, especially for a catalogue show, so you have to weigh just how much you want the show in high-def or if you’re content with a full frame presentation and limited features.