Saturday, October 18, 2008
CSI: NY - The Fourth Season (CBS DVD/Paramount, $79.99) - The evidence never lies. In this 21-episode collection of CSI: NY - The Fourth Season, Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) and his brilliant team - Stella (Melina Kanakaredes), Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo), Sheldon (Hill Harper), Lindsay (Anna Belknap), and Flack (Eddie Cahill) - get their game on when the clues in a woman's murder lead them to one of the web's most addictive virtual worlds. And as murders in Times Square, Central Park, and even on the Statue of Liberty test their mettle, the whole team battles Mac's nemesis, the mysterious 333 Stalker.
This 6-disc set contains all 21 episodes of the fourth (2007-08) season. The episodes are presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or Spanish Stereo. It has a total running time of approximately 14 hours, 45 minutes. Notable season 4 guest stars included Mykleti Williamson, Robert Picardo, Bruce Dern, Arye Gross, Keri Lynn Pratt and Adam Baldwin. Packaging is very attractive as usual. The embossed, holofoil outer slipcase feaures a photo of Melina Kanakaredes and Gary Sinise and the show logo. Unlike previous seasons where they used a Digipak book format inside the box, this time they use three slimcases. CSI: Miami also switched to this format, but the original CSI continues to use the book format. The slimcases have black edges and feature a photo of the cast that is based on "Lunch Atop at Skyscraper" photographed in 1932 by Charles C. Ebbets. It has Anna Belknap, Carmine Giovinazzo, Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes on the front and Eddie Cahill, Hill Harper, Robert Joy and A.J. Buckley on the back cover. On the back of the slimcases, the episode titles and special features are listed by disc. Inside the slimcases, there is just blank black space. It would have been nice to see more photos here. The discs are very plain looking with a silver background and the CSI: NY logo.
Once again, the menus are very stylish and easy to navigate. A series of video clips leads to the animated anamorphic widescreen menus. Some of composer Bill Brown's great music is played in the background. At the bottom of the screen, there are options for "Episode Selection," "Set Up," and "Previews" (only on disc 1). The featurettes are also listed on their respective disc. There is no notation on the menus of which episodes have audio commentaries. You have to select an episode and play the commentary from there. On the Set Up Menu, you can choose either the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or Español. Closed captioning is available for all of the episodes. As you would expect from such a recent show, the video and audio quality is outstanding. Like all of the other CSI shows, it is incredbily well shot and lit. While most of it is shot in Los Angeles, the exterior shots of the city really enhance the show. They even occasionally shoot some scenes on location in New York. The episodes are presented in the order of their original airdates. Quite a bit of a music is used in the series. Fortunately, there is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of it had to be replaced. They changed the opening this season to a remixed version of Baba O'Reilly by The Who. I think they should have stuck to the original. The running times vary greatly from 40 to 43 minutes in length, but that is how they originally aired.
The amount and variety of the special features is a little disappointing compared to the prior releases. There were 4 audio commentaries on the third season release, but we only get 1 on this set by CSI franchise creator Anthony E. Zuiker. There are four featurettes that are spread out on discs 2, 5 and 6. Discs 1, 3 and 4 feature only the episodes. Here is the breakdown by disc:
Audio Commentary on "Down the Rabbit Hole" by CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker - He talks about the origin and inspiration for this episode that deals with the Second Life virtual world. This is a pretty good commentary, but it could have benefited by having some of the people that created that the animation on it. Some of the information he discusses overlaps with the featurette.
Art Imitates Second Life (15:25) - This featurette includes interviews with Anthony E. Zuiker, Hill Harper, Writer Sam Humphrey, Carmine Giovinazzo, Frank Dellario - Director of Machinima Production - Electric Sheep-IllClan, A.J. Buckley, Gary Sinise, Anna Belknap, Eddie Cahill, Executive Producer/Writer Peter M. Lenkov, Sunny Cerchie - Lead Creative - Electric Sheep, Matt Dominianni - Machinima Director - Electric Sheep-IllClan, Jason Cerchie - Art Director - Electric Sheep, Kerria Seabrooke - Machinima Director - Electric Sheep-IllClan. It focuses on the "Down the Rabbit Hole" episode, which dealt with the CSI team entering a virtual world called Second Life to solve a real case. It's interesting that most of the cast had no idea about Second Life or virtual worlds. They give a good summary about the basic premise and how they do the avatars and animation. A huge amount of people signed up for the CSI virtual world after this episode aired. I'm not an online gamer, but I can see the appeal for others.
Dante's Infernal Episode (10:05) - This featurette includes interviews with Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, Executive Producer/Writer Peter M. Lenkov, Writer Daniele Nathanson, Director Joe Dante, Anna Belknap, and Department Head Make-Up Perri Sorel. It focuses on the episode "Boo." This was really their first Halloween/zombie episode. It aired on Halloween night. They talk about the A and B storylines, working with Director Joe Dante, casting the zombies and doing the make-up. It was nice to see Joe Dante again. I'm a big fan of his movies like Gremlins and The 'Burbs.
Art Attack (4:12) - This featurette includes interviews with Production Designer Vaughan Edwards, Executive Producer Pam Veasey and Artist Clemente Bornacelli. The artwork was seen in the episode "Right Next Door." They talk a little bit why the paintings were chosen and how they picked the style and colors. Unfortunately, the paintings were barely seen in the actual episode, but you can get a closer look here.
Cutting To The Core: Season 4 In The Big Apple (13:33) - This featurette includes interviews with Gary Sinise, Anna Belknap, Executive Producer Peter L. Lenkov, Hill Harper, Eddie Cahill, Executive Producer Pam Veasey, Production Designer Vaughan Edwards, Carmine Giovinazzo, Melina Kanakaredes and Eddie Cahill. This provides a good summary of some of the highlights of the fourth season. They discuss the opening of the season at the Statue of Liberty and how they built the sets for it. They talk about the character's personal lives this season and Mac Taylor's 333 storyline. Stella's relationships, Danny and Lindsay's developing relationship, Danny's guilt over Ruben's death, Danny and Sheldon's friendship, and Det. Flack and Det. Angel's blooming relationship are also discussed. Finally, they talk a little about the taxicab/serial killer storyline and some of the other story arcs.
Previews - Over 5 minutes worth of previews for other CBS DVD releases are found on disc 1.
Another very good season of CSI: NY. Some memorable episodes this season included Can You Hear Me Now?, One Wedding and a Funeral, The Thing About Heroes, Child's Play, Admissions, and Personal Foul. I like how they followed the lead of the original CSI with some story arcs that stretched out over multiple episodes. This isn't strictly a procedural show. It has dropped in the total amount of viewers since the first couple of seasons, but it's still a dependable hit and wins its timeslot easily.
It's a little disappointing that the amount of special features and audio commentaries continue to drop from release to release. They weren't affected by the writers' strike as some of the other dramas, so they produced around the same amount of episodes as they usually do every year. Hopefully we will see some more multiple episode story arcs this season. It will be interesting to see how they delve further into the character's personal lives and their relationships in upcoming episodes.
-- Reviewed by Todd
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Tune in tomorrow as we conclude our CSI franchise review odyssey with CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Eighth Season. We'll also have our regular weekly ratings analysis.
New on DVD/Blu-ray (December/January)
12/06 - Family Guy - Season Fourteen
12/13 - American Dad! - Volume 11
12/13 - Newhart - The Complete Seventh Season
01/03 - Girls - The Complete Fifth Season (Blu-ray)
01/10 - Broad City - Season 3
01/17 - I Love Lucy - Superstar Special #2 (Colorized)
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume One
01/17 - The Love Boat - Season Three - Volume Two
01/24 - Hooperman - Season One
01/24 - Hooperman - Season Two
01/31 - Ballers - The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
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