CSI: which is the best?

CSI is heavyweight programming, in the US and the UK. So two things: what makes it so alluring and which variant is the top of the deck?

When adverts for CSI: Crime Scene Investigation first hit the golden telly box of joy, it looked drab, weighty and boring… to me, anyway.

My parents were always into whodunits and they thought the same. So a year or so down the line, when I sat down on the couch at 9pm for a dose of ‘there’s been a murder’, I was surprised to be watching an episode of CSI with them. I asked ‘What’s the deal, Neil?!’ and they replied ‘We be chillin’, no classics hittin’ up the box, thought we’d try a new flavour’*. So, all prejudgements out the window, I gave it a try.

Well, here we are. I’m doing an article on it, I’ve already stated that it’s alluring and so far the phrase ‘it is shit’ hasn’t been typed by my pale white shadowed hands. Somehow I’d managed to catch the pilot episode, to my utter joy. It was brilliant. I was enthused! Exclamation marks were flying out of my mouth like arrows into a teen girl!** Like that, I was suckered in.

So, seven years in, two spin offs down the line and a whopping total of fifteen seasons complete, which is the best one, and why is it so damn good?

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Let’s start at the bottom of the ladder.

CSI: NYNo offence guys, we’re playing fair. Anybody who’s seen the CSIs knows this to be pure fact: the New York edition of CSI is pure A-grade baloney. Sure, they have a brilliant actor heading the team, but Gary Sinise alone cannot carry a full cast show. The rest of the boys and girls in class three need to be brilliant and spot on to even try and be half as good as the next step on the ladder. But they just aren’t.

Let’s look at them as I have nicknamed their characters: Cardboard Boy, Spaced Out Loser, Little Miss Plain and the Half Decent One. I’ll leave the pairings up to your imagination, and continue on.

CSI: MiamiI don’t know about you but for me this isn’t crap. Then again, it ain’t the top of the crop but it does have some good points. Firstly, I haven’t gone ahead and named all the characters after one-dimensional flaws. No, I actually watch this and enjoy it from time to time.

That is, until now. I just sat down from watching the season finale and it was awful. Like really. It’s the worst episode of any show I’ve ever liked ever… bar that annoying clip show in season six of Scrubs.

I feel compelled to express just how bad it was before continuing. It was shit.

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So as I was saying, it’s not that it’s a bad show nor does it have a bad cast, in fact both are alright, it’s that it knows it’s not bad. It started off really promising with a great first few seasons and then this happened: in 2006, Reuters reported that the show is “the most-watched U.S. series around the world”. Then the makers seemingly went “Oh, really? Great! We don’t even need to try any more!” and every single episode since then has had Horatio Caine look at the floor, hands on hips and take his glasses off.

Sometimes, as in the case of the recent season finale, five times in an episode. It lost it. The end.

Well, maybe not yet. I still have one more show to waffle about.

CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationAlso referenced as ‘CSI: Vegas‘, it started out as a brilliantly developed and enthralling show with a hellishly good cast, and remains that way today. Whether it’s Gil Grissom’s weirdness, Sara or Nick’s goofiness, Warrick’s coolness, Catharine’s pokerfaced-ness or Greg’s wackiness, it’s all very well crafted. From the first episode to the most recent, the main cast has glued together so well that there are no past characters in the cast list, which is a fact that neither of its spin-offs can enjoy.

CSI cannot only enjoy being second in the ratings, but it can also do what it wants. It is the best one, and they know that it is, but they know it in secret. Like it’s magic. And I’m betting they want to keep it that way, and that, my friends, is the way I like it.

*My parents don’t really speak like this and my dad’s name isn’t Neil.** I’m not abusive, it’s a reference. Geeks, back me up.