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 (September)
09/06 - Coach - Season One (Mill Creek) / Season Two / Seasons One and Two
09/06 - South Park - The Complete Ninteenth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Ninth Season (Blu-ray)
09/13 - Newhart - The Complete Sixth Season
09/20 - 2 Broke Girls - The Complete Fifth Season
09/20 - Family Matters - The Complete Eighth Season
09/20 - Modern Family - The Complete Season 7
09/20 - Veep - Season 5
09/27 - The Wonder Years - Season Six
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest
Sitcoms Airing Tonight
Saturday, October 22
Superstore - "Guns, Pills and Birds" (NBC, 8:00PM ET/PT) (Repeat)
When Amy (America Ferrera) assigns an uncomfortable Jonah (Ben Feldman) to the gun section of Cloud 9, Jonah abuses his right-to-refuse sale to anyone that causes concern, causing an open-carry protest to gather in the store. On principle, Glenn (Mark McKinney) attempts to purchase all of the store's morning-after pills, but finds himself in a moral dilemma when he can't afford them. Dina (Lauren Ash), Garrett (Colton Dunn) and Mateo (Nico Santos) hunt down a crow that has flown into the store.
The Thundermans - "Happy Heroween" (Nickelodeon, 8:00PM ET/PT)
It's a major Halloween storm outside, but inside Colosso keeps the family spooked by telling three scary stories that are sure to terrify even the bravest of superheroes.
School of Rock - "Welcome to My Nightmare" (Nickelodeon, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Mr. Finn's class decides to celebrate Halloween in school after Principal Mullins, who hates the holiday, goes home sick. When she returns sooner than expected, they have to scramble to keep her from finding out the truth.
Saturday, October 22
- Jim J. Bullock (Too Close for Comfort) - Jim talks about touring the U.S. in Kinky Boots on Oprah: Where Are They Now? at 10pm ET/PT on OWN.
- Patti LaBelle (Out All Night) - Catch Patti on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
- Ricky Gervais (The Office) - Watch Ricky on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
- Tom Hanks (Bosom Buddies) - Tom appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He also talks about Inferno on NBC's Today sometime between 7-9am and on LIVE! with Kelly, so check your listings.
- Elijah Wood (Wilfred) - Elijah is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Ana Gasteyer (People of Earth/Lady Dynamite/Suburgatory) - Ana visits Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
- Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron appears on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
- Zooey Deschanel (New Girl) - Zooey is a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
- Michael Chiklis (Daddio) - Michael drops by Harry, so check your local listings.
- Jameela Jamil (The Good Place) - Jameela appears on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.
- Aya Cash (You're the Worst) - Aya talks about You're the Worst on the AOL Build ShoW at 2pm. She will also be on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 12:30pm ET.
- Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth) - Will is a guest on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
- Mary Steenburgen (The Last Man on Earth/Ink) - Mary talks about The Last Man on Earth on NBC's Today in the 10am hour. She will also be on the AOL Build Show at 12:30pm.
- Anna Camp (The Mindy Project) - Anna talks about Good Girls Revolt on People Now at 8:30am.
- James Brolin (Life in Pieces) - James is a guest on Access Hollywood Live, so check your local listings.