Dropped: CSI Miami

Posted on February 22, 2012

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Even this isn't the original cast

We started watching CSI back in 2000. I enjoyed the rejection of typical TV police tropes – specifically, jumping to conclusions at the scene of the crime and pursuing the investigation according to those initial assumptions. Instead, Gil Grissom (William Petersen) encouraged his team to focus on the evidence, and to leave the police work to the LVPD detectives.

In May, 2002, there was an episode in which Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) pursues the evidence to Miami, where she meets Lieutenant Horatio “H” Caine (David Caruso), Calleigh “Gun Girl” Duquesne (Emily Procter), Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez), Dr. Alex Woods (Khandi Alexander), and Tim “Speed” Speedle (Rory Cochrane). That was the launch of CSI: Miami, and we switched our loyalty to sunny Florida.

Until this past week.

We Watched It

Normally, I would spell out the pilot for you, but when a show is 10+ years old, the pilot is less important than the body of work.

The CSI shows (CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: New York) are, ostensibly, about Crime Scene Investigation teams. These teams show up at crime scenes, gather evidence, analyze the evidence, and present their findings to the police – who investigate based on the evidence.

Certainly in the early years of CSI, the show gave a lot of screen time to science and to advances in technology. Gil Grissom, in particular, reveled in cool new ways to find and analyze clues like a kid in a candy store.

Detective work was the province of the police.

Dropped

As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, my wife and I are self-admitted shippers. Our loyalty to a show is only as strong as the relationships between the characters on that show. I am far more character-focused than I am plot-focused – and I freely admit that’s why I still watch NCIS, even when they stoop to episodes about Real Life Superheroes.

CSI: Miami has dropped all the relationships that we liked at the beginning of the show. They’ve dropped or minimized a number of characters, and added new ones without bringing them into sharp focus.

From what little I’ve seen of the other CSI shows, all of them have deviated from the original idea. The CSI: Miami forensic team now makes snap judgments and then looks for evidence to support those judgments. A franchise that once attempted to be a haven for rational thought on national television now no longer makes the attempt.

Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against passion, motivation, or dedication. One of the things that attracted us to Horatio Caine in 2002 was how he saw red when a crime involved a child. However, back then, that meant that he pushed his team harder to find the most elusive evidence. Now it means that he goes off the rails and starts kidnapping possible suspects, terrifying them into giving him information.

Which brings up my third issue – Over the last twelve years of CSI shows, the forensics teams have become detectives. Where they once went into the field unarmed, with police escorts, they now carry pistols, interrogate suspects, push for confessions, and make arrests.

Change is fine, but shows lose their audiences when their characters don’t talk about the changes and how those changes affect them.

Then there’s the formulaic issue, which I won’t go into here, and the lame sunglasses meme they should have dropped years ago.

 

WTF

I’m just going to say it: The CSI franchise is ageist, and CSI: Miami is the worst offender. Emily Procter has been minimized. Khandi Alexander is gone. Eva La Rue is two years older than Emily Procter but looks younger – and now they’re bringing in some new young CSI field agent. Look out, Eva, your days are numbered.

Even if departures and reduced work schedules are voluntary, showrunners need to handle them carefully. Khandi Alexander’s Dr. Alex Woods got a nice exit from the show. Tim Speedle’s exit brought home the horror and danger of police work. The characters need to communicate to each other why these changes are happening, and then the show’s publicity should make it clear, too. We miss Maxine Valera (Boti Bliss). We haven’t seen Det. Yelina Salas (Sofia Milos) in three years.

The personnel changes have drastically altered the relationships in the show. I’ve been a fan of Christian Clemenson since The Adventures of Brisco County Junior, and he’s got a good character in Dr. Tom Loman. I really like Omar Benson Miller as CSI Walter Simmons, although he just kind of appeared on the show – especially contrasted with the gradual introduction of Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo). We can handle change.

But now the show has changed enough that we can’t find a reason to keep it in our DVR queue.

Thoughts?

Have you ever noticed an ugly trend on a show, and stopped watching because of it?

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Posted in: television