Saturday, August 29, 2009

Blog DVD Review: CSI - The Ninth Season (9/1)

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for the weekly Blog DVD Reviews. This week we head out West to Las Vegas for CBS DVD's C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation - The Ninth Season. This season starred William Petersen (for the first 10 episodes), Marg Helgenberger, Laurence Fishburne (starting with episode 9), George Eads, Paul Guilfoyle, Eric Szmanda, Robert David Hall and Lauren Lee Smith. See my Blog DVD review of C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation - The Ninth Season:

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Ninth Season

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - The Ninth Season (CBS DVD/Paramount Home Video, $98.18)

Follow the evidence... again and again. Television's number-one drama continues to deliver as LVPD's brilliant forensics team encounters their greatest challenges yet in the stunning ninth season of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Watch and learn as the team wrestles with death, destiny and inner demons. This must-own collection includes the historic departure of Gil Grissom (William Petersen) and the much-anticipated arrival of Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne).

This 6-disc set contains all 24 episodes from the ninth (2008-09) season of the long-running crime drama. The episodes are presented in Anamorphic Widescreen enchanced for 16:9 tvs with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio. It has a total running time of approximately 17 hours, 22 minutes. The attractive packaging has profile photos of Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger and William Petersen on the front cover with the Las Vegas skyline in the background. There is an embossed CSI: Crime Scene Investigation logo at the top of the box. Nine cast members are featured on the back of the box with the largest photos of William Petersen and Laurence Fishburne. A short synopsis of the set, a listing of the special features and the DVD specs are given. The inside case is in a book format that you can flip through to get to the discs. There is a montage of various photos of the cast on the front and back covers. A content locator lists the episodes by disc and the special features on the inside cover. Each disc lists the episodes and has the CSI logo and a green background. These sets have retained consistent packaging, while CSI: Miami and CSI: NY have switched to slimcases. They also still include the Crime Scene: Do Not Cross tape around the packaging. That is always a nice touch.

The menus on these sets have always been very slick looking and easy to navigate. There is a series of 5 minutes of previews for some other CBS DVD releases that you can play or skip at the beginning. The main menu opens with a view from a bus on the street. This leads to a montage of video clips that run a little over a minute with some of the wonderful instrumental music by composer John M. Keane in the background. Options are avaiable for Episode Selection, Set Up and the Special Features (on select discs). On the Set Up menu, you can choose either Dolby Digital 5.1 English Surround or EspaƱol. Closed captioning is available for all of the episodes but some of the special features may not be closed captioned. As you would expect from such a recent show, the video and audio quality is outstanding. The show looks stunning and even better on Blu-ray. They do a lot of nighttime shooting and make the show look dark and like a theatrical film. There is no disclaimer on the back of the box about any of the episodes possibly being edited. Episodes are presented in their original broadcast order and numbered by the production number, which was the same order for this season. Running times are between 42-44 minutes in length.

A decent number of special features are spread out over the 6 discs. Once again, there are only 2 audio commentaries on this set like last season. They have really cut back on the number of them from previous seasons for all of the CSI franchise shows. There are 4 features that total approximately 78 minutes. Deleted scenes are included for 6 episodes and run approximately 9 minutes. A pop-up style text information track is available on one episode. Here is the breakdown by disc:

Disc 1
Episode 902 "The Happy Place" - Deleted Scene (2:00) - A scene with Wendy Simms and Detective Williams questioning the pit boss, Randy Hopper.

Crime Scene Iniation (14:43) - This featurette includes interviews with William Petersen, Executive Producer Naren Shankar, Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Eric Szmanda, Marg Helgenberger, Laurence Fishburne, George Eads, Robert David Hall, Wallace Langham, Lauren Lee Smith and Paul Guilfoyle. This details the two new cast members that were brought in for this season. They talk about how Laurence Fishburne was cast, about the character he was playing and how they wanted him to be different than Grissom. Then they talk about how Lauren Lee Smith was cast, her character and her relationships with the other characters.

Disc 3
Episode 909 "19 Down..." - Deleted Scenes (1:30) - 3 short scenes: 1) Greg and Conrad talk. 2) Hodges and Simms talk. 3) Greg and David Phillips examine the plastic bag contents with an x-ray machine.

Episode 911 "The Grave Shift" - View the episode in CSI Mode (Comprehensive Scientific Information Mode) - This has some pop-up style information boxes that give information on forensic science. It would be interesting to have these and general trivia tracks on more episodes.

Disc 4
Episode 914 "Miscarriage of Justice" - Deleted Scene (:42) - A scene with Catherine in the court room with the lawyers and judge.

Episode 916 - "Turn, Turn, Turn" - Audio Commentary by Actor George Eads, Actress Taylor Swift and Writer Tom Mularz - Taylor Swift makes her primetime television acting debut. Over 20.8 million viewers watched.

Disc 5
Episode 920 "A Space Oddity" - Deleted Scene (3:15) - Simms and Hodges talk at the convention and the murdered victim is discovered.

Episode 920 "A Space Oddity" - Audio Commentary by Executive Producer & Writer Naren Shankar, Actor Wally (Wallace) Langham, Actress Liz Vassey, Writer Bradley Thompson, Writer David Weddle, Actor John Wellner, Actor Archie Kao and Actress Sheeri Rappoport. The annual lab rats episode is always a fun time and the commentary is lively and entertaining.

Episode 920 "A Space Oddity" - Rats in Space (27:18) - This featurette incldues interviews with Naren Shankar, Jon Wellner, Walalce Langham, Sheeri Rappaport, Liz Vassey, Supervising Producers Bradley Thompson and David Weddle, Archie Kao, Director Michael Nankin, Set Decorator Erin Smith, Lead Buyer Adam Braid, Property Master Michael Lindsay, Special Effects Make-Up Matthew Mungle, Department Head Make-Up Melanie Levitt and Costume Designer Eileen Barker. This details the annual lab rats episode, which also has an audio commentary available. This episode dealt with a real murder at a science fiction convention. They talk about the challenge in writing the episode, how this was an ambitious and complicated episode with a lot of production value, the sci-fi convention set and other sets they created, the props, the alien heads and make-up and how they made costumes for 60 people.

From Zero to 200 in Nine Seasons (18:54) - This featurette includes interviews with Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Executive Producer Naren Shankar, Director William Friedkin, Producer Dustin Abraham, Laurence Fishburne, George Eads and Robert David Hall. This extra celebrates and details the 200th episode "Mascara". It was directed by William Friedkin and dealt with the Lucha libre and Mexican wrestling. They talk about how they cast real wrestlers, the location shooting and sets and working with William Friedkin. There is also some footage shown from the 200th episode press/cast party where Carol Mendelsohn, Anthony E. Zuiker and Jerry Bruckheimer speak.

Disc 6
Episode 921 "If I Had A Hammer" - Deleted Scene (1:25) - A scene with Conrad and Catherine.

Episode 922 "The Gone Dead Train" - Deleted Scene (:47) - A scene with Ray and Nick.

Good-bye Grissom (17:37) - This featurette includes interviews with Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Executive Producer Naran Shanka, William Petersen, Jorja Fox, George Eads, Marg Helgenberger, Paul Guilfoyle, Eric Szmanda, Wallace Langham and Robert David Hall. They talk about how it was set up that William Petersen was going to leave after 10 episodes and his reasons for wanting to do other things that weren't possible while doing a weekly series. They talk about Grissom's and Sarah's relationship and how the other characters as students no longer needed a teacher. Then they show how each character got to say goodbye to Grissom and some footage from Petersen's farewell parties are shown.

Final Comments: It was another sad and stunning season of CSI. William Petersen's Gil Grissom was always my favorite character, so seeing him leave the show was emotional. The show has lost 3 major cast members over the last few seasons. It has some lost a lot of the magic of the earlier seasons with so many likable characters departing. I think Laurence Fishburne is a great actor, but the character he was playing was just too inexperienced as a criminalist. I know they wanted him to be a completely different character than Grissom, but I think making him a complete rookie was a mistake. I'm sure many die-hard fans didn't want to see some of the same newbie forensic gathering techniques that they saw in the first season. Other cast members like Marg Helgenberger and George Eads seemed to have less to do than in earlier seasons. Lauren Lee Smith's Riley character brought some more youth and spunk to the show, but she was really never given much to do and won't be back for the tenth season. The show is still doing well in the ratings and has some good seasons left, but I hope they can go back to having it being more of an ensemble show with everybody as a true team and involved in each episode. I look forward to the tenth season premiere on September 24. Jorja Fox will be returning as Sara Sidle for 5 episodes.

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
(4/5 stars)

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Also available on Blu-ray:
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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation CBS.com Official Site
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV.com Page


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, October 22

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Housewarming" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Dave and Gemma decide to invite the Butlers to their housewarming party. However, when everyone but Calvin accepts, Dave decides he’s finally had enough of Calvin’s refusal to welcome him to town.

Happy Together - "About Your Parents" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Claire gets sick, Jake is determined to prove that he can take care of her without relying on her parents, Bonnie and Gerald.

Andi Mack - "It's a Dilemma" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Andi's plans for a group outing with Buffy, Cyrus and Jonah are interrupted by Walker; Bowie's new guitar student proves to be a challenge; Cyrus seeks an alternative to P.E. and ends up in a dance class.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of October 22)

Monday, October 22

  • Juliette Lewis (Camping/A Family for Joe/I Married Dora) - Watch Juliette on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:34pm on NBC.
  • Sarah Silverman (The Sarah Silverman Program) - Sarah appears on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. She will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Scott Bakula (Murphy Brown/Eisenhower and Lutz/Gung Ho) - Scott drops by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS. He will also be on CBS This Morning sometime between 7-9am.
  • Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) - Ike is a guest on Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC. He also talks about The Oath on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Dakota Johnson (Ben and Kate) - Dakota visits The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Craig Robinson (Ghosted/Mr. Robinson/The Office) - Craig stops by Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) - Aubrey appears on Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Mary McCormack (The Kids Are Alright/Welcome to the Family) - Mary drops by Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo. She will also be on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Wendi McLendon-Covey (The Goldbergs/Rules of Engagement/Reno 911!) - Wendi chats on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Jada Pinkett Smith (A Different World) - Jada talks about the Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Finesse Mitchell (A.N.T. Farm) - Finesse visits The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby Show/Here and Now/Malcolm and Eddie/Listen Up!/Reed Between the Lines) - Malcolm-Jamal appears on ABC's GMA Day at 1pm.
  • Cedric Yarbrough (Speechless/Reno 911!) - Cedric is a guest on People Now at 12pm.
  • Nico Tortorella (Younger) - Nico appears on the BUILD Series at 12pm.
  • Vanessa Lachey (Dads) - Vanessa is a guest on Good Day New York on WNYW-Fox5 in New York sometime between 7-10am .
  • Keith Carradine (Complete Savages) - Keith talks about Madam Secretary on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (September/October)

The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season Step by Step - The Complete Second Season Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season

09/04 - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The Complete Season 12
09/04 - Mom - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Silicon Valley - The Complete Fifth Season
09/04 - Superstore - Season Three
09/04 - Young Sheldon - The Complete First Season
09/11 - The Big Bang Theory - The Complete Eleventh Season (Blu-ray)
09/11 - The Middle - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - Modern Family - The Complete Ninth Season
09/11 - People of Earth - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - Community - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
09/18 - Step by Step - The Complete Second Season
09/18 - You're the Worst - The Complete Fourth Season
09/25 - Blondie - The Complete 1957 Television Series
09/25 - Perfect Strangers - The Complete Fifth Season
10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
10/16 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
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