CSI - viewing order?

I realized I missed out on this whole “CSI” thing for the past ten years. After watching the first season on DVD, I kind of like it. It sure isn’t the best TV I’ve ever watched but there’s something strangely satisfying about the whole thing – I can see why it’s garnered great ratings and so many spin-offs.

Any recommendations on how to navigate the thread of seasons & spinoffs? I think they are mostly all out on DVD now (though sadly not on Netflix instant watch except the latest few seasons). Is there much in the way of ongoing storylines that will be messed up if one either watches one flavor of CSI all the way to current time vs jumping around between them?

BTW, this is also the thread for completely mocking me for wanting to watch any episodes of CSI, much less multiple seasons.

Watch CSI: Las Vegas, seasons 1-3.

That is all.

99% of the episodes are self-containted anyway so it doesn’t really matter what order you watch each show in. The spin-offs don’t really overlap with the original show either (or with each other) so, again, it doesn’t really matter what order you watch them in.

Just be aware that the spin-offs are really only connected to the original show (and each other) by a common name and a similar format. Tonally they’re quite different. CSI (Vegas) is ‘gritty’ and possibly more grounded in reality than the other two shows*; ‘Miami’ is kind of mindlessly daft in an entertaining way and the science seems to veer straight through fiction and into fantasy at times; ‘New York’ is ‘Seven’-lite - it seems to be going for a darker tone but doesn’t quite hit it.

To be honest, the cast of the original show is what gives it the edge for me so unless David Caruso hamming it up as an unintenionally creepy detective floats your boat then I wouldn’t bother with the other two.

*Yeah, I know, most of the science is probably bunk, the mean-time-to-resolution for each case is too short by a factor of about 12 months (DNA is usually analysed and matched within hours, for example) and every time someone uses a computer to pin a suspect’s cell phone down to an exact room I die a little. Still, William Petersen is so damn convincing.

This is all you need: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sarYH0z948&feature=related

Check out the season finale of CSI (Las Vegas) Season 5. It was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino.

Don’t watch the spin-offs.

I watch all the episodes of the original series (Las Vegas) as they end up on Spike TV, & I’d say your initial assessment holds up – it’s not a classic TV show, but is much better than most crime procedurals. I like it more than all of the various flavors of Law & Order. There’s slow development of relationships between the main characters over the seasons, but no overlap with either of the spinoff series. Usually once a season a main character is centrally involved with a case, either as a major witness or as a crime victim.

I watched maybe 5 episodes of CSI: New York, & tried to get through an episode of Miami twice with no success. Miami was terrible, IMO, and while New York is serviceable, there’s not as much chemistry between the cast members as there is in Las Vegas.

Gil Grissom, William Petersen’s character, is the main reason I enjoyed the show, so I haven’t found the past two seasons as interesting, since Petersen left about 1/3 of the way into season 9 when Larry Fishburne became a regular. It’s probably best to watch the seasons in order, but for seasons 1-6, you could watch the episodes of the season in a random order and easily be able to figure out what’s going on. There’s some overarching plots that run through seasons 7-8, so I’d recommend watching those in order.

Thanks for the feedback y’all! I had been detouring onto the first few episodes of CSI:Miami thinking it would have a bit higher production values. Which, it does, but not enough to make up for the fact that I like the “tone” of the original CSI better. Gil Grissom is just a great character…

I watched the first disc of Season 1 a couple weeks ago too (my wife was lukewarm on Castle and Psych but really likes CSI. Go figure). The first couple episodes looked like they were starting some overreaching Who killed Holly Gribbs? thing, but then they totally ignore it for the next two or three episodes. Is this a big deal throughout the season or it’s mostly all standalone stuff?

The season is all standalone stuff. From what I remember they don’t ever get back into the Holly Gribbs thing. Only in the later seasons did they start doing a few storylines that cover multiple episodes.

I really like CSI, in part because it is (or at least was) so much about the triumph of science, something we don’t see much of in modern mass media.

So yeah, I watched 8 or 9 seasons of CSI (LV) and stopped there, as too many familiar actors were gone (and Gil was soon to go). And I have no regrets about watching (or stopping).

On the other hand I watched far more episodes of CSI Miami than I should have before I realized what I was doing; they are an absurd waste of time. Although it offers perhaps the most horrifically horribly bad videogame-related episode of TV ever. No, really. Ever.

CSI New York bored me the couple of times I tried it.

Pretty spot on!
Watched all of LV till end of season 8, watched a few Miami eps and tried to give NY a shot but don’t think I managed to sit through more than 2 eps…

So, yeah, early LV is great, while the other two shows are best ignored. Maybe it was just me, but the early LV felt more sciencey and lighter with some funny banter and only later got too serious. One of the best eps is where Nick & Warrick have different theories on what happened at a crime scene and then bet on who was right. They were joking around quite a bit there…

But I believe you then miss out on Mistress Heather.

And I agree, avoid the spinoffs.

CSI Miami is horrifically bad. Keep watching, I dare you.