Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mini-DVD Review: C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation - The Seventh Season; Solomon's Weekly Rant: Flavor of Love, Christmas Story, Bowl Games

It is Saturday, so that must mean it is time for mini-DVD reviews and Solomon's Weekly Rant! First up, are the mini-DVD reviews. Today we head out west to Las Vegas for C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation: - The Seventh Season. C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation stars William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, Eric Szmanda and Robert David Hall.

C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation - The Seventh Season

C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation - The Seventh Season (Paramount Home Video/CBS DVD, $89.99)

Follow the evidence... again and again. Winner of the People's Choice Award for "Favorite Television Drama" three years in a row. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation comes to DVD in this special collection that contains all 24 episodes from Season Seven - including Grissom's hunt for the notorious Miniature Killer.

This 7-disc set contains all 24 episodes from the seventh (2006-07) season and a number of audio commentaries and special features. The episodes are presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) enhanced for 16:9 tvs with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio. It has a total running time of 17 hours, 25 minutes. The attractive packaging features parts of William Petersen's and Marg Helgenberger's faces. At the top of the box, there is an embossed CSI logo. Las Vegas' skyline is in the center in a hologram type effect. The inside case is in a book fromat that you can flip through to get to the discs. There is a photo of Helgenberger, Szmanda, Guilfoyle and Doyle on the cover and Eads, Fox, Petersen and Hall on the back. I'm not sure why William Petersen is barefoot. They are walking across a street. A content locator lists the episodes by disc and the special features. Each disc features a different photo of one of the cast members and the show logo.

The menus are very slick looking and easy to navigate. They have a montage of video clips, with some instrumental music playing in the background. Options are available for Episode Selection, Set Up, Previews (only on Disc 1), and Special Features (only on Disc 7). On the Set Up menu, you can choose either Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround or Spanish 2.0 Surround. 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. The show looks stunning. This is the first time that the show has lacked "Complete" in the title. The episodes have running times of 41-44 minutes in length. There is nothing on the packaging to indicate that any of the music has been changed. While the episodes are numbered by their production order, they are presented in the order of their original airdates.

An impressive amount and variety of special features are included. There are 7 audio commentaries available on 5 of the discs. Producers, Writers, Directors and supporting cast members provide some behind the scenes details and trivia on the episodes. Executive Produer/Writer Naren Shankar and Co-Executive Producer/Director Ken Fink provide commentary on "Built To Kill, Part 1." It's a bit unusual there is no commentary on the second part of the episode. Director Richard Lewis and Writer Dustin Lee Abraham comment on "Fannysmackin." Director Martha Coolidge and Make-Up Effects Artist Matthew Mungle discuss "Living Legend." Executive Producer/Writer Naren Shankar and Co-Executive Producer/Writer do the commentary on "Sweet Jane." Director Richard Lewis, Writer/Techinical Advisor Richard Catalani and Producer Carol Mendeloshn provide their insights on "Law of Gravity." "Lab Rats (aka "While the Cat's Away") features Director Brad Tanenbaum, Writer Sarah Goldfinger, Wallace Langham (David Hodges), Jon Wellner (Henry Andrews), Liz Vassey (Wendy Simms), Sheri Rappaport (Mandy Webster) and Archie Kao (Archie Johnson). This was a fun one with so many people on it. Executive Producer/Writer Naren Shankar and Co-Executive Producer/Director Ken Fink do their third commentary on "Living Doll."

Disc 7 has the 6 featurettes. These add up to over 90 minutes of bonus material. There is a "Play All" button or you can watch these individually. Here is the breakdown:

Inside "Built To Kill" (9:02) - This featurette focuses on the Cirque du Soleil show that was featured in the season premiere. It includes interviews with Supervising Producer Ken Fink, "KA" Company Manager Calum Pearson. Writer David Rambo, "KA" Production Manager Ray Forton, "KA" Stage Performer Sarah Harding, "KA" Stage Manager Stacey A. Myers, Marg Helgenberger, "KA" Performer Daniel Power and Louise Lombard. They talk about how they got the idea for the episode and how the "KA" members didn't want to be portrayed as, the storyline and how it was shot. There is some behind the scenes footage and they show various parts of the stage. The Cirque du Soleil show looks very cool. I'd like to see one of their performances someday.

Miniature Murders (13:48) - This featurette focuses on the miniature serial killer, which was a story arc that stretched the entire season and even into the current season. Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Co-Executive Producer Doug Petrie, Executive Producer Naren Shankar, Marg Helgenberger, William Petersen, Supervising Producer Sarah Goldfinger, Production Designer Daniel Novotny, Set Designer Rob Sissman, Miniature Supervisor Craig Currie, Prop Supervisor James Schexnaydre, Director Ken Fink, Co-Producer David Rambo, Graphic Artist Daphne San Jose, 2nd Unit Director Brad Tanenbaum and Director Jeffrey Hunt. They talk about the evolution of the idea and the history involved with a woman who created some, how this was the first time they had a season long story arc for the first time, how the miniatures were built and lit, why they made 2 versions of each miniature, how they used different camera angles and the casting of Natalie. The miniatures were so incredibly detailed. They did some amazing work.

Who Are You? Inside "Living Legend" (14:45) - This focuses on the episode of the same name. Interviews include Co-Executive Producer Doug Petrie, Executive Producer Naren Shankar, Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Roger Daltrey, Director Martha Coolidge and Special F/X Make-up Artist Matthew Mungle. They talk about the original idea for the story, how twist after twist was written into the episode, guest star Roger Daltrey, the theme song by The Who and how they always wanted to get Daltrey as a guest star since the beginning of the series, and how they did the disguises and prosethic make-up for the 4-5 roles that Daltrey played.

Las Vegas: The Real Crime Solvers (18:25) - All of the recent C.S.I. DVD releases have had similar segments like this one. In this featurette, Robert David Hall (Dr. Robbins) visits the Clark County Crime Lab in Las Vegas. He interviews Captain David O'Leary, Kimberly Brockman, Mark P. Burry, Thomas Melville, Kellie McGauthier, Julie Marschner, Frances E. Beaudette, Dinnah Caluag, Alice Maceo and Dr. Gary Telgenhoff. Various topics are covered as he visits the different departments, including toxicology, controlled substances, DNA, firearms, latent finger prints and autopsy. The segment closes with Robert David Hall talking to some real crime scene investigators: Randy McLaughlin, Yolanda McCleary, Jeff Smink and Kristin Gammas. He asks some good questions throughout this segment. It is interesting to hear their opinions of the show. The coroner is a lot like the Dr. Robbins character. He has the same sense of humor.

The Evolution of C.S.I. Season 7 (25:47) - This is the longest and most in-depth featurette on the set. Interviews include Executive Producer Carol Mendelsohn, Executive Producer Naren Shankar, William Petersen, Paul Guilfoyle, Jorja Fox, Robert David Hall, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads, Liev Schreiber, Louise Lombard and Eric Szmanda. They talk about how the show has evolved, how they've tried new things every season, the look of the show, visual effects, William Petersen's sabbatical to do a play, Grissom and Sara's relationship, the casting of Liev Schreiber and the show's unpredictability. I found the Keppler storyline and his character very interesting. You would never know that Jorja Fox would be leaving the show early in the current season.

Smoke & Mirrors: Directing Feature Television (16:31) - This featurette looks at the direction on the show. Interviews are included with the following directors: Ken Fink, Richard Lewis, Jeffrey Hunt, Brad Tanenbaum, Alec Smight, Michael Slovi and Martha Coolidge. They talk about their directorial styles, how they try to challenge themselves, how they try to create the look of feature films, how the show has evolved over the years, the look of the show and the shooting schedules. A typical episode takes 8 1/2 to 9 days to film.

A playable demo for the CSI: Hard Evidence PC game is also included.

Final Comments: It was a season of firsts for C.S.I. They had never done a story arc that stretched across an entire season. It was a bit disappointing that the miniature killer storyline wasn't concluded until the current season, but the whole idea was unique and entertaining. I think part of the show's success is because they are continually evolving it and coming up with fresh ideas. While this set is a bit on a pricey side, there are 7 audio commentaries and over 90 minutes of special features. The original C.S.I. is definitely the most popular in the C.S.I. franchise, so I guess it makes sense that they get the best treatment on DVD.

-- Reviewed by Todd Fuller
(4.5/5 stars)

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Related links:
SitcomsOnline.com Full DVD Reviews Page
C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation CBS.com Official Site
C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation TV.com Page



Solomon's Weekly Rant
Saturday, December 22, 2007
"Yet Another Flavor of Love Marathon; Too Many Christmas Story Airings; Bowl Games on NFL Network?"
By Solomon Davis

Both seasons of Flavor of Love have been seen several times on VH1 and now another marathon is scheduled for Sunday, December 30? How much of Flavor Flav do we really need to see on VH1 in one year? I thought Flavor of Love was a thing of the past since the spin-off I Love NY has already completed 2 seasons. Why is VH1 going backward and airing Flavor of Love all over again? I can see airing a Flavor of Love 3 but to see more airings of the first two seasons again after the 30th will just make me wanna puke.

Why in the world is TBS airing the same Christmas movie back to back on Christmas Eve and on Christmas? A Christmas Story is airing at 8pm and 10pm on Christmas Eve (and all day on Christmas, which I won't rant about since who watches TV on Christmas Day?) and I just can't figure why they would not air a different movie at 10pm, since the same movie will air all day on Christmas Day anyway. They should premiere the movie on Christmas Eve at 8pm, then air other holiday movies the rest of the night and their Christmas Story marathon on Christmas Day from like 10am-8pm instead of this 24 hour airings thing. There are tons of Christmas Movies they can air on Christmas Eve but they want to show the same holiday movie all evening and all day on Christmas Day? This seems like something TV Land would do and I have to say I'm very surprised at such a stupid programming decision by TBS. TBS should get holiday programming tips from Hallmark since that channel is airing All I Want for Christmas at 8pm and A Grandpa for Christmas at 10pm on Christmas Eve.

Why is college football's Texas Bowl being aired on the NFL Network on Friday, December 28? It is not Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys, which is the real "Texas Bowl," so this does not belong on this network. When I purchased the NFL Network through Comcast I was told it is the 24-hour NFL Network. So why would a College Football Bowl Game be seen if it is supposed to be 24-hour NFL programming?? No wonder everyone is complaining about this channel. They make you buy it for an extra price and not many people have it and the stupid NFL schedules games on here on Thursday and Saturday nights late in the season. This Bowl Game is what you call misleading customers who they think are purchasing a NFL network and then realized they purchased the "All-Football Network" instead. Change your name already! Maybe they will air local high school football championship games next.

Agree or disagree with Solomon? Discuss it here.

DISCLAIMER: Remember, Solomon is not the voice of SitcomsOnline. He is just stating his opinions and does not reflect what SitcomsOnline says or thinks. It is just his 'View' but it is always quite entertaining.


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  • Lisa Kudrow (Space Force/The Comeback/Web Therapy/Friends) - Watch Lisa on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
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