Fall 2005 Crime Drama discussion

I’m a crime drama whore, and I know some others here are as well, so I thought I’d offer some opinions on this season.

BTW, has anyone noticed that like the same six actors rotate through all the crime drama shows as special guests? I’ve looked up some guest actors that have appeared on Without a Trace, NCIS, CSI, Cold Case, and Law & Order at varying times.

Observation: why are all cop show MEs either a minority, a woman, or handicapped? L&O/L&O CI: woman. CSI: handicapped. NCIS: british. CSI:NY: black, and new one is Asian. CSI:Miami: black & female.

Close to Home - Jennifer Finnigan, who played Devan for a short while on Crossing Jordan, is Annabeth, an assistant prosecutor trying to juggle her career and taking care of her newborn kid. I’m not sure what the grand concept here was, but I think it was “Lots of moms watch crime dramas, so let’s try to appeal to them directly by having a character that they can identify with”.

So far – not impressed. Maybe it’ll catch its stride later, but it feels like Law & Order Lite mixed with 5 minutes of Lifetime Lite. She bounces back and forth between “We CAN’T let this guy get away with murder!” and “Can I get a minifridge for my breast milk?” I’m not making up that last one.

Cold Case - because of the ever shifting timeslot after 60 Minutes, I watch Cold Case on reruns mostly. I’ve seen one or two episodes and the only thing that’s really striking me is that Kathryn Harris is wearing her hair down. Oh, and one of the 2003 episodes had Summer Glau, “River” from Firefly. How I miss that show. sigh

Law and Order - Business as usual. Not sure how I feel about the Fontana & Green pairing, but they’re not horrible. Waterston is really beginning to grate on my nerves with his mannerisms. The new ADA that replaced Rohm seems awfully generic. No real personality for me to get a feel for what she’s like. I’ll continue watching since, well, I have for like 15 years now.

Law & Order: SVU - Business as usual, although they seem like they’re hell bent on milking Stabler’s descent into madness. Family has left him, his rage is uncontrollable, etc. etc. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be an arc or if they’re just trying to setup some sexual tension with Benson. Ice-T still can’t act.

Law & Order: CI - Donofrio apparently was getting ‘exhausted’ from the crazy schedule, so they brought back Mr. Big, Chris Noth, and introduced Annabella Sciorra as his sidekick. Sciorra can be sensuous, but she does not pull off “esoteric genius” – her character is maybe one more notch believable than Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist or Keanu Reeves as a human.

Of the L&O’s, this is my least favorite. It has a very different style and the intuitive ‘leaps’ that Goren makes are just really, really stupid, which I’ve ranted about before. I only watch it when the rest of my TiVO is nothing but kid shows.

CSI: The big question is – what the hell happened? Last season the team got split into two different teams, one on day watch and the other as night watch, and Catherine was given a team, and the whole thing just sucked and went insane. I’m glad to see they backed down on making Ecklie a generic asshole, but they never actually explain or even hint at why the band is back together.

The blonde girl that used to be Ecklie’s sidekick has gone from being a CSI to a detective. Side note: her accent never quite seemed right, and I finally looked her up in IMDB and she’s British – which is why she sounds like a British person trying to sound American. The only thing worse than that is an American trying to sound like a British person trying to sound American (yes, I’m looking at you Green Day).

CSI:NY: They fired the weird looking chick with the forward facing nostrils – sorry, she just creeped the shit out of me – and brought in my favorite rotate-through-the-crime-dramas-extra, Anna Belknap. You may last remember her from the ill-fated The Handler (with Joe Pantoliano and her current costar Hill Harper) and in the two-part Without a Trace where she was the nice girl that shot the foreign diplomat. She’s a CSI from Montana and has basically slotted in just fine.

It’s still a decent show, but not as good as CSI. Oh, and Hawkes (Hill Harper), who was the ME last season, decided to stop being a doctor so he can be a probie CSI. no shit. What is up with the career changes on these shows? Trying to get popular characters more face time?

CSI:Miami. Worst. CSI. Ever. It feels like a Caruso vehicle because every goddamn episode is about him and how awesome he is and what kind of a bad ass he is and how cool he is and how every time something goes down he’s the guy through the front door first and blah blah blah. I wouldn’t mind this so much if he wasn’t the worst actor alive. He has like three signature moves:

  • hands on hips, slowly swivel head and survey terrain
  • look down, say something dramatic, look up and put on sunglasses
  • Say something dramatic…pause…finish sentence and look at suspect knowingly.

Calleigh is no longer in firearms, and they brought back the DNA girl. Wolfe and Delko don’t get along, so that’s like an undercurrent, but they’re also adding this whole secret riff that’s going on with Delko’s personal life interfering with his job. yawn

Khandi Alexander was great on NewsRadio, but jesus she’s the most annoying ME in the history of cop show MEs. “Oh, honey, it was too soon for you”. “Oh sweetie, baby doll, who would do this to you?”

I’m also pretty tired of the stock CSI:Miami bad guy of “Oooops, yeah, I accidentally killed her…IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS!” sheepish grin, shrug

NCIS I’m still passed and bummed that Kate was killed off. This is the only show where a main character has died and I get a little emotional when they do the flashbacks. Instead of just killing her off and moving on, they’ve kind of let her ghost linger for about 3-4 episodes, which was a nice transition period, and seeing the effects on everyone really made it feel more real.

The new girl, Ziva David, is supposed to be some Mossad agent, played by an Italian actress. She’s amusing without trying to be Kate. The new tech assisting Abby is more of a distraction than anything else.

They’ve also introduced the entire plot line of “What happened to Gibbs’s wife and daughter?” – apparently they died/got killed, and it haunts him to this day, but they don’t get into it.

Oh, and Lauren Holly plays the Deputy Director of NCIS now, and I have a hard time taking her seriously.

Without a Trace: They introduced a new agent, an NYPD cop, with mixed results so far. She doesn’t really seem to fulfill a particular role. I like that they’re sticking with interviews/event recreation and they seem to be deemphasizing the personal relationships (Malone’s family is gone, it’s unclear if Sam & what’s his name are together anymore, and what’s-her-name’s heart condition is now fixed apparently).

Totally with you on this, I’m so glad she’s gone. I’m starting to prefer CSI:NY over the original, but marginally. And fuck CSI Miami.

I was actually shocked to see Kathryn Morris’ hair down, it’s like a totally different look & feel to her (and her hair is mostly up in Minority Report IIRC) and it’s practically startling.

As for Criminal Intent… I dunno, it’s still kinda my favorite. I was wondering why they brought on a second team… frankly I wouldn’t mind seeing more of the teams work together but I guess maybe that’s a one-off… I have a feeling Sciorra isn’t like uber-brain like Goran is, she just happens to be smart and a bit quirky. Her clothing is very understated. She definitely doesn’t have the interview style. Mr. Big of course reprises his old L&O role… bout the same. I like some of the things they did in the two-hour episode… and Chief O’Brien with a double scrotal hernia! Ouch.

SVU… milking those big first-time deep undercover personal episodes big time.

CSI… sucks generally.

Crossing Jordan… sucks. I hate crossovers. Especially those that deal with Las Vegas.

Numbers… can’t get into this show, seems pretty dumb.

Criminal Minds… ugh. Something about this show reeks. Maybe it’s the nerdy characters, situations… something.

ER… sorry had to mention it. Sucks. Another “crash” episode. How many season turning big crash episodes does there have to be before people cry enough?

Kolchak… I’m starting to dig it a bit more but I don’t think ABC will have the patience to make it last.

E-Ring… sucks.

— Alan

I’ve watched Killer Instinct a couple times on Fox. It’s OK, but I thought The Inside was a lot better.

I like Criminal Intent too. But then again, I just like watching Donofrio work. I watch the other Law and Orders on and off, but CI is the only one on my Season Pass list.

CSI: The big question is – what the hell happened? Last season the team got split into two different teams, one on day watch and the other as night watch, and Catherine was given a team, and the whole thing just sucked and went insane. I’m glad to see they backed down on making Ecklie a generic asshole, but they never actually explain or even hint at why the band is back together.

I think it was the last scene in the previous season finale. After rescuing Nick from underground Grissom just used that dramatic moment to announce he want’s his crew back together. It was really quick. This season opener was pretty cool though watching the whole group walk to the crime scene in slow motion.

Oh and regarding CSI Miami you forgot to talk about Caruso’s unyielding attempt to throw the phrase, “Ok, here’s what I want you to do…” in every single scene he’s in. I swear one episode I had him at at least 5 times.

Doh, how could I forget Crossing Jordan!

Crossing Jordan: Silly, goofy show, but it’s entertaining if you don’t take it too seriously and get all huffy that MEs shouldn’t be running around solving crimes all Quincy style. The procedure is all screwy and retarded, and I’m not quite sure why MEs are also CSIs.

Criminal Minds: I refuse to watch this on general principle and bitterness that Dead Like Me was cancelled. Okay, that and I hate “profiler” type shows, so I haven’t even bothered.

Las Vegas: God this show is stupid and horrible, but I am drawn to watching it for some reason, although Molly Sims might be a huge part of that. The entire show is basically “Love Boat in a casino”, right down to the cheeze ball special musical guests and guest stars (John Elway, Bon Jovi, Ashanti, Snoop Dogg, Black Eyed Peas, Paul Anka, etc.).

Numbers: For a techie computer math probability nerd, this show is just really, REALLY goddamn stupid. Holy shit I can’t stand it. “With the wind blowing west at 5mph there’s a 74.5% probability that the gunman is located within 5 miles of this point…but since he’s wearing green, the odds are that he’s located near an intersection right…THERE! GO GO GO GO!”

MI-5: I really liked this show back in 2003 when it made sense. When it went batshit insane with the season ender I didn’t even bother watching the next season when apparently they replaced everyone. Keeley Hawes is teh hawt.

David Caruso - we watch CSI Miami just to laugh at him. Surely this is a joke? The head bent over sideways, the sunglasses, the melodramatic lines, hands on the hips, the way he lets a sentence run into the next one: “That’s a very good observation Frank we are not…pause… going to let this little girl down.” It’s like a cross between William Shatner and Jack Lord (Hawaii 5-0). My wife and I are convinced that the cast and crew make fun of and laugh at David Caruso behind his back on the set, because he’s not just bad, he’s over-the-top, C-Movie, Ed Wood bad.

Las Vegas: watch it for James Caan hamming it up and the babes in tops that go further each week. The show that had an entire scene of topless babes who were only wearing paint and went out of their way to zoom in on nips to prove they were topless.

That was rather timely, they just canceled it today. Martha Stewart Apprentice also got axed.

— Alan

You would think, but everyone I know who watches it watches it despite him, not because of him (contrast with William Peterson’s ‘Gil Grissom’). But CSI:Miami feels like Caruso has to have a contract stipulation that he is the center of every episode. The constant plot points are “his murder investigation in NYC”, “his brother that died”, “his dead/missing/undercover brother’s wife”, “his relationship with Yelina”, “his relationship with Rick”, blah blah blah.

And he’s Mr. Awesome in every show – he’s the guy that leads every car chase, is first into the buildings with guns drawn, always does the right thing, has no human flaws or frailties, gets kids to talk about the crime scene, always has the brilliant insights. gag

What I like about CSI is that each character had to choose a Flaw from the Disad table during character creation.

Grissom: “Okay, let’s see, I’m going to take the Poor Interpersonal Skills major flaw and the Honorable Guy minor flaw and spend the bonus points on Intelligence”

Willows: “I’m going to take the Corrupt Relative Major Flaw and the Former Stripper Minor Flaw/Bonus and put those points into Being Hot”

Sidle: “I pretty much suck, but give me the minor flaw of Recovering Alcoholic and Gap Toothed Mannishness”.

Warrick: “I’ll take the combo Gambling Problem Minor Flaw and the Connections Minor Advantage, and put my extra points into Intense Eyes”.

And then there’s what’s his name, who is as generic and bland a character as it gets (note: I can’t even remember his name off the top of my head). All I remember is that he had a stalker once and that he got buried in a box by the Riddler.

Ike! Do your impression of David Caruso’s career!

There’s also Bones. I don’t hate it nearly as much as I thought I would.

I remember when Kathryn Morris played that religious nutjob on Xena: Warrior Princess. She was hot. Still is.

CSI: The team is back together because after they kicked some ass in the first episode or two, Grissom turned to Ecklie and said “I want my team back.” They owed him big for whatever it was, so he got it back. It was just Ecklie being a dick in the first place anyway. I was also surprised to see him turn into a non-dick.

Lots of people here dis CSI, but it’s usually quite good. There’s the occasional bad (and very bad) episode due to some writing issues, but the characters are great, acting is good to great, and the writing usually keeps up.

CSI: Miami - ICK.

CSI: NY - Never watched it, can’t be bothered with cash ins.

L&O: Used to watch it, don’t anymore. Don’t watch the cash ins.

I currently record CSI, L&O:CI, and Criminal Minds on a season pass. I’ve tried out everything else on the list, and came away with a bad taste in my mouth (and, in the case of Bones, a serious stomach flu).

Criminal Minds, for all of its nerdiness, has some decent writing. Of course, I’ll watch Mandy Patinkin breathing on screen for an hour and call it good entertainment.

L&O:CI is all about characters for me. I like that they brought Noth in on the cast, as he was my favorite of the old-timers from the main series.

CSI is still a favorite just for a good all-around package. Sure, the show has it’s logic-flaws, it’s odd pandering gaffs with scripting and cinematography (witness the “split screen” show at the start of this season) and some pretty odd cast shuffling.

There’s no denying that for a woman of her age, Marg Helgenberger has got it goin’ on.

David hates you all.

MI-5 is pretty good – or, rather, Spooks (the original British title) is very good. See if you can track down the original version (each episode is an hour, rather than forty some minutes). It’s much better than the edited American version, and actually makes sense.

Was Spooks still good after Tom left? That’s when I quit watching.

Yeah, so doing a Google image search on Xena takes you to some, uh, interesting places. With lots of girl on girl eroticism.

ANYway…before Cold Case I had no idea who Morris was, so I just IMDBed her, and she was in Minority Report (don’t remember her at all, apparently she was a brunette), that episode of Xena, a bunch of TV movies and – best of all – Cold as Ice.

While I normally hate it when others do this… pictures?

You’ll have to excuse me, I don’t seem to remember the character names of any of the characters in these shows, even though I watch them religiously.

Law and Order: I was kind of worried after Green’s hospital sojourn, that we would be stuck with that weedy partner who looks like he came from The Sopranos (and probably did). Initially, I missed the character of Green’s old partner, feeling that the italian guy didn’t fill his shows, but now I can’t even remember who he was. I enjoy this a lot at the moment.

Law and Order: CI: When they brought in the new set of partners they alternate in now, I was like WTF, what happened to Vincent and the blonde woman? But if I ignore the new Italian named woman’s bizarre affections (talking to herself), I still like it a lot - the cases are very interesting to me. Although I find the Italian woman to be kind of bland despite her oddities, the blonde has more character.

Law and Order: SVU: This used to be my favourite, no hands down. But what bothered me about the others and made me feel like they were substandard seems to have faded away. I still like SVU, but I don’t find the woman partner (Olivia?) to be very interesting to watch when her psycho white partner isn’t around. I like Ice-T, maybe he can’t act, but I can’t tell the difference.

In general, I think the Law and Order teams have gotten the formula just right for me. The stories are enough (except when Olivia has to carry one on her own) to keep my attention. I no longer sit there watching them and go, blah, how weak and unimaginative, its based on this issue which was in the news a short while ago.

Criminal Minds: I like this a lot. But the prodigy is tedious. Even the way he hooked up with the blonde seemed contrived in a way that reflected the way he fits into the team. I like Mandy Patinkin, but in this he sort of seems like a weak old man. I found him to have more of an impressive presence in Dead Like Me. Again, I like the stories.

Bones: I downloaded the pilot for this. I hope the series changed completely after that point, because I really could not be bothered with it. It just seemed a little boring and bizarre.

NCIS: I still like it, but the dynamic has changed. I used to really like the dynamic as it was, the back and forth between Kate, Probie and Pretty Boy was perfect. Watching NCIS was like watching an act that delivered a guaranteed type of enjoyment each week. It can’t really be taken seriously storywise, and without that dynamic… it just isn’t as good. Its still watchable though.

CSI Miami: Watching CSI Miami was physically painful to me. They used some yellow filter. Sitting there watching jaundiced looking Caruso ponce about was like electric shock therapy for me, any desire to watch this was painfully driven out of my system. Haven’t watched it for a season. But… I was forced to watch this goober intrude on CSI New York, and I have to say, oh dear. How can this shit be renewed? Why did they feel the need to do a crossover?

CSI New York: I found it boring last season. The italian guy (blond, wears glasses and has an italian real name) sucked all the interest out of it for me whenever he appeared on the screen. Captain No-Legs from that Hanks movie had no personality - he was like some automaton. This season I am enjoying it a lot, the black ME is interesting, the new woman is interesting - seemingly less italian guy and also no more forward-facing nostril girl! Its pretty good. But unfortunately tainted with memories of Caruso.

CSI Las Vegas: When they split the teams, it just didn’t work for me. Catherine Willows just didn’t work as a leader, and all that story guff about the split teams and the blonde girl who is now a detective. Not of interest to me. But the teams back together, whatever the reason, is working for me. The guy who used to do the forensics work who is now a CSI is pretty unappealing whenever he is on the screen. But Warrick and Nick have the character needed and work for me. Grissom as well. Sarah not so much. But I am still enjoying it.

Alias: Alias used to have a magic in the first two seasons. The characters were almost larger than life. The unpredictability of Jack Bristow, the kind evil of Sloane, the undercoverness of Syndey, the coolness of Dixon. The storylines that fitted them all in and slowly built up Rambaldi. Then something happened and it all went down the shitter. Her friends were incorproated into the mix of the spy life and discarded from the show - that soapy aspect of her hiding her job from them I liked. And so on, until they did an episode with Zombies and a giant red ball of liquid hovering over a Russian City. It was like they were making a statement: We know we suck, we know we’ve jumped the shark, heres an episode which makes this statement clear to all because of its inaneness. And Alias past that point is still kind of bland. But it has that girl from Angel (the weedy nerdy one with dark hair who was insane at first) who kind of works and the other girl from the Inside (the main character) who is like the eye candy replacement Sydney. Sydney really sticks out as something that needs to go – please, a pregnant girl going on missions, its like another statement of ‘Yes, we’re still on the far side of the shark and we don’t care.’

Anyway, writing this quick opinion beats working, but I better get back to staring at something that resembles work.