i prefer sonny and rico

Tue Jun-19th-2007 // Filed under: Random Crap

I’ve watched a couple of episodes of CSI: Miami recently. I was well aware that it was ridiculously popular all over the world, but I was never very interested in the series, mostly because of the bad reviews from usually dependable sources, but it was never very clear to me why the series was apparently so bad. I figured I’d check it out and see if it really was that bad, and if so, why.

It took me about two minutes to find out: just to begin with, the cops drive Hummers. Because, y’know, all police departments can afford vehicles that, according to Wikipedia, have a minimum recommended selling price slightly in excess of $55,000 dollars and are far, far more expensive to actually drive than the kind of vehicles one could, y’know, conceivably find parking space for in a busy crime scene. It’s like Miami Vice, but without the flimsy “well, these are confiscated vehicles that we use in our undercover high-speed chases” excuse. As far as first impressions go, my crime buff ass couldn’t stop giggling at the sheer stupidity of it all.

And, of course, it’s a very slick show, somewhat famous for its numerous CGI sequences when the forensics are worked out. Ooh, a bullet with rifling marks on it! Let’s have a slow-motion sequence with the grooves being cut on the sides of the bullet. It’s not that they’re ugly, and some of them are genuinely cool. And if they had some meat to go with them, I might dig them.

But they don’t. Rarely have seen a show as formulaic as this. The CSI always get their man, and they go about it strictly by the book. Crime, evidence, forensics, proof of guilt, confrontation with the bad guy and roll credits. Of course, to a certain extent that’s to be expected from a cop show, but it’s not so much storytelling as it is a serialized description of somewhat intricate but ultimately boring and extremely unlikely puzzles — and I’m saying this as a guy who loves police procedurals.

In fact, I think the show is interesting in that none of the main characters seem to have any personalities beyond boilerplate templates, such as “serious professional” and “smiling professional”. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show with less character development in my life, and I don’t think the actors are at fault. David Caruso, for example, certainly knows his stuff — it’s not really his fault his Horatio Caine is so wooden. In the end, an actor works with what he’s given, and with Caine, there’s simply nothing there. So Caruso wanders through the episodes looking intense and hyperserious and taking off and putting on his sunglasses, and drawling in that peculiarly slow, and ponderous voice he uses in the show — pausing between every four words, of course — and generally being very efficient and very much right all the time. Caine never has conversations, he just makes statements and stalks off-screen.

Apparently, others have also noticed the utter ridiculousness and lunacy of his performance:

I don’t think he’s supposed to crack me up, but come on…


  1. “I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show with less character development in my life, and I don’t think the actors are at fault. David Caruso, for example, certainly knows his stuff — it’s not really his fault his Horatio Caine is so wooden. In the end, an actor works with what he’s given, and with Caine, there’s simply nothing there.”

    Having watched probably every single CSI Miami episode shown on Finnish television I have to disagree. There’s a lot there, when it comes to Caine, but it has to be picked up from between the lines. Unlike in many other series, there’s no big fuss about personal relationships etc. in the CSI trio (Vegas, Miami, NY), but you do learn a lot about the characters if you watch the series regularly and pay attention.

    At least that’s what I think.

    Comment by Outi — June 20, 2007 @ 1182332462

  2. Mikki, u should honestly checkout the other two series, C.S.I NY and C.S.I Vegas.

    C.S.I Miami is a really bad version of NYPD Blue, which – at least I think – was the break trough of David Caruso. C.S.I imitates the NYPD touch, but builds everything hanging on Horatios mind – Horatio is endeed the MAN in Miami, but would have very little respect in the big-boys world, as NYPD goes around with real life guestions such is what is right and what is wrong.

    Although C.S.I Vegas or NY don’t really reach on that level of moral questions and the neverending gap with being a police and still being a man thing that NYPD does, they seem to have some much more interesting dialog between the characters themselfs, then the cases they work on. In C.S.I Miami the detectives don’t really have personalities, they are just so f*kin though guys doing what their doing.

    Just check out few episodes of earlier C.S.I Vegas and I’ll bet u find the hooking aspect that has made the series what it is. C.S.I Miami is just kind of a action version of the whole original idea, without any greater story – just the thing that those brainless americans want :)

    And Mikki, still waiting for that lunch ;)

    Comment by Risto — June 20, 2007 @ 1182347663

  3. Outi, you’re probably right in that if I were to watch more of the series, I’d learn more about the characters. That’s fair enough. But, honestly, when after watching several episodes I don’t care about a single one of the people involved and frankly, I find the investigative aspects downright ludicrous, I don’t really feel an urge to make the investment there — particularly not when there are series like Homicide and The Wire out there, for example…

    And Risto, yeah, I know — lunch. How difficult can it be?

    Comment by Mikki — June 21, 2007 @ 1182414961

  4. As a shameless longtime viewer of every series that has a title starting with CSI, I have to say that Miami has always been CSI: Extreeeeme, dealing generally with more risque items than Vegas did, and being more ‘urban’ with spicy, splashy Cubans!

    (And yes I know, Vegas does have the ‘protein stain of the week’, but that has become pretty old hat these days.)

    CSI series are a lot like Pokemon, easy to recognize: Miami is the Orange & Yellow one, NY the Blue & Gray one, and Vegas is…the neon rainbow one.

    I do prefer the original myself, for the characters mainly. The development is slow, but it is there. CSI: NY one has a cooler look with interesting religious undertones, but I am not quite uptodate with the episodes, having strayed over to quality series like the Wire in the meanwhile.

    All in all, CSI is classic ‘watch while eating’ entertainment, where missing a line won’t really hurt anything. It is well produced, looks good, there isn’t too much ‘people stuff’ in it, and while formulaic, it doesn’t stray into House-territory, or the ‘one solution model’ ala Numbers, where the one who controls the math, controls…the UNIVERSE!

    Comment by JD — June 24, 2007 @ 1182653543

  5. JD, I find it interesting that both you and Outi seem to have a problem with, well, “people stuff”… Okay, that’s a loaded way of putting it, but you both seem to find the show’s decision to push character development fairly deeply into the background one of the things that you like about the show. For me, that’s one of the reasons I don’t care about the show.

    (Then again, even if the characters were more in the focus, I kinda doubt I’d care about the show then, either. I mean, do I want to find out more about the private life of the inhuman mechanical being that looks like David Caruso? No, good people of the internet, I do not.)

    Comment by Mikki — June 25, 2007 @ 1182738990

  6. Hummm. It’s not that I have a problem with “people stuff”. It’s just that there are tons of series with characters that are very transparent – you get to know almost everything about them just by watching a couple of episodes. Kinda like reading text where the important bits are underlined (twice!) so you don’t actually have to do any work yourself. I follow many series like that, so I get enough of “people stuff” when I’m watching them. Having to actually dig for clues about the characters while watching CSI is very… refreshing. :)

    Comment by Outi — June 25, 2007 @ 1182766426

  7. Oh, you mean you follow a lot of crap. =)

    (Personally, I don’t really watch TV at all; taking the time to watch these episodes of CSI: Miami was pretty exceptional for me, and I only did it because I’m a crime buff. Don’t get me wrong, I do watch a number of series, but I really prefer DVDs, because I just can’t stomach the idea of somehow scheduling myself to be in front of the TV at a certain time. So most of the TV I see a minute or two of it while I wait for a console game to load or a DVD to get through the non-skippable bits, and that’s it. When Finnish TV broadcasting goes entirely digital in a couple of months, I won’t even see that, and I don’t really see myself getting a DTV decoder.)

    Comment by Mikki — June 25, 2007 @ 1182767220

  8. I do not mind the “people stuff” in general, but I do not want it in my dinnertime theater. I also do not generally want it in my gritty police shows, since it softens the grit.

    I actually like what people stuff there is in CSI: Vegas – which is Not a gritty show – because Marg Helgenberger is a MILF, and Grissom is the ultimate nerd hero.

    The characters’ private lives entwine with their work in a fairly organic manner in that series, as opposed to many shows where switching into the people stuff is like driving into a brick wall. It brings the episode to a total halt, making you wait while the plot is on total hold for ten minutes or so. It is annoying, and the actors are often not really the sort who can pull such off in an interesting and engaging manner.

    So, people stuff, okay, but it has its own time and place.

    And yes, DVD’s are the way to go…or season rips from teh interwebs.

    Comment by JD — June 27, 2007 @ 1182913732

  9. It softens the grit? Well, I dunno, it doesn’t seem to soften it in The Wire or Homicide. Or in Deadwood, to pick another genre. But fair enough.

    Comment by Mikki — June 27, 2007 @ 1182972822

  10. I think the people stuff in the shows you mentioned, well…it is pretty much grit in itself. :) All of them tend to involve shouting and booze in great amounts, at least.

    Comment by JD — June 30, 2007 @ 1183168672

  11. Well, yeah, but isn’t grit just about always something that comes from people?

    Comment by Mikki — June 30, 2007 @ 1183211822

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