For nine seasons, Gary Sinise’s Marine-turned-Detective Mac Taylor led a series of investigators blending deductive reasoning, criminal profiling, and forensic evidence examination to stop evildoers on the mean, gritty streets of New York in CSI: NY. The second spin-off of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, NY spun off of a crossover event featuring CSI: Miami’s Horatio Caine (David Caruso) tracking a murderer from sunny Miami to the dark and shadowy underbelly of a NY apartment building. Alongside Melina Kanakaredes’ Stella Bonasera (for six seasons), Carmine Giovinazzo’s Danny Messer, Eddie Cahill’s Don Flack, and Hill Harper’s Sheldon Hawkes, Sinise’s lead detective provided hard-nosed but fair investigations, bringing evildoers to justice.
Now, CBS DVD and Paramount have delivered NY fans’ dream: all 197 episodes are available on 55 discs, with behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes, audio commentary, and gag reels. While different from the original, Las Vegas-based series, NY slots in second in the hierarchy, ahead of the cheesy one-liners (and flipped aviator sunglasses of Caruso, and lightyears ahead of CSI: Cyber. [I would also slot NY ahead of the later years’ version of the original series, too, definitely Ted Danson, and most likely even Laurence Fishburne’s.]
Always patriotic, Sinise found another “true blooded American” in Taylor, a man who was in Beirut in 1983 and in the Middle East for Operation Desert Storm, and who lost his wife in the World Trade Center attack of 9/11. He is the glue that holds the team together, given the hotheaded behavior of a few of his subordinates, never appearing too out of control or in over his head. While Gil Grissom and Caine both come across as smart alecks, Sinise’s delivery somehow always seems matter-of-fact, more like Columbo in letting the villain overplay his hand than interested in always showing that he’s the smartest guy in the room.
Of course, with a nine-year stint that is largely episodic, the show wouldn’t be what it was without a long line of guest stars. The New York version put the skills of a variety of personalities and professions to good use, like comedian Sasha Cohen, magician Criss Angel, actors Octavia Spencer, Edward James Olmos, Ed Asner, and Peter Fonda, musicians Maroon 5, Chris Daughtry, Josh Groban, Nelly Furtado, and Ne-Yo, race car driver Danica Patrick, and personality Kim Kardashian. The parade of well-known people through the series is surprising and wildly encompassing.
Each episode is intriguing, often exploring the motives and purpose of different people, including their hopes and dreams, their baser desires, and the struggle between selfishness and community that all of us must make. With hours of entertainment here, it’s a good dive back into the world of CSI (even as CBS makes some noise about a limited series return to the original Las Vegas roots). Sinise’s Taylor remains a pillar of crime television royalty, and the summer is a great time to watch how he created a character to rival Lieutenant Dan.