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Posts in: April 24th, 2008

What It Takes to Make CSI Not Suck

In the vast realm of popular culture, there’s very little I hate more than the CSI juggernaut*, but recently I’ve found myself obsessed with the Miami flavor. I can’t tolerate anything other than this one because it always seems to me that the cast goes wildly over-the-top because the performances are secretly tongue-in-cheek. They always have these little grins on their faces, which may or may not be the excessive botox and facelifts the regular cast members have obviously undergone, that makes me think they’re going to crack up as soon as they cut. I have to believe this is the case to keep my sanity.

The other series, which I’ve sampled on occasionally out of curiosity, don’t hold up nearly as well because there’s a different kind of attitude to the cast—a smugness, as if they really feel they’re a part of something important. I guess you could argue that it’s important to bring joy to tens of millions of Americans who like the kind of TV you can watch while doing the laundry and making dinner, but I like something a little more substantive. Even the Seagal movies I’ve raved about lately, while ridiculous and implausible, are at least attempting to get at something resembling a higher truth—exposing rampant police and government corruption, oil companies fucking over both Native Americans and the environment, and so on—while the CSI shows are content to play out the same basic ideas over and over again (to be fair, the Law & Order shows on NBC are equally guilty of this, and more than anything else so is American Idol). Making crimes ridiculously over-the-top is not a substitute for quality, especially since it always turns out to be the first person they interview, played by an actor so cartoonishly evil any good detective would hold them in interrogation until they break them.

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