CSI: Obvious

Posted on May 25, 2010

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My wife and I have been watching CSI: Miami for 8 seasons now. On May 17th, they finally got rid of Internal Affairs investigator Rick Stetler. Spoilers ahead, if you’re not caught up with the series.

Now, before I go any further, let me be clear: I’ve got nothing against actor David Lee Smith, who has played Rick Stetler for most (if not all) of those 8 seasons. Mr. Smith was terrific in The Man from Earth. I’ve got nothing against Internal Affairs or CSI. I just think the character was poorly written.

Rick Stetler didn’t even make an attempt at impartiality. It was clear from every interaction with the other characters that he was out for blood. If there was any chance that a CSI team member was innocent, Stetler ignored it and focused on that person’s guilt.

While I know nothing about actual Internal Affairs, Stetler’s obvious agenda struck me as unprofessional. After all, he has to work with the other police officers all the time. He counts on the police for protection just as much as any citizen. Why go out of his way to antagonize any of the force?

It seemed obvious to me that Stetler had an agenda beyond insuring the professional standards of the Miami-Dade Police Department. So I wasn’t surprised when he turned out to be stealing from the department property locker, and that he was willing to frame other officers and commit extortion to protect himself. That’s too bad.

It would have been a much bigger and more exciting reveal if Stetler had seemed like an even-handed, fair-minded investigator. If he’d been written with more compassion and more depth, the revelation of Stetler’s criminal behavior would have been a bigger surprise, and that would have been better television.

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Posted in: television