Monday, April 06, 2009

TV Review: CSI:NY "Communication Breakdown"


New York has always been a place of multiple ethnicities, languages, cultures, and people. While this is true of any large city, the Big Apple seems especially conducive to making a melting pot of it all. One place to find that trend is on a train. After all, everybody uses one at some point or another.

It's been a while since a train was part of the main storyline ("Murder Sings the Blues"). Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) found himself bumped off the case this week because he had a personal connection to the victim. It was only a chance encounter, but Mac (Gary Sinise) knew any case which is potentially compromised has a slim chance of a conviction in court. This week, Det. Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) caught a ride home once on a subway, only to find a dead body lying across the tracks. Do the words "Subway surfing" ring a bell ("Risk")? After Season Four's multi-episode arc focused on a killer who used a taxicab as a death machine ("Taxi"), it stand to reason that a train was about due for a part in a script.

An arrest in the first ten minutes is an immediate clue that the person is not going to be guilty of a crime. Why? It's too easy. Police procedurals tend to take the entire hour for all the pieces to come together so the right person can be hauled in for questioning and later taken into custody. Besides, this show relies a good deal on an interrogation in the fifteen minutes before the closing credits fade out.

Several good partnerships were at work this week. Hawkes and Dr. Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy) got to work an autopsy together. I especially enjoyed the virtual x-ray of the intestines so Sid would know exactly where to cut without having to go all the way through their length. It's a perfect blend of science and technology at work. Watching Joy and Harper in the same scene is seeing two good friends combine their talent for finding the truth with some good old fashioned quirk.

I also enjoyed the translator Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) had on his phone. Nice nod to the iPhone app! It's a clever way to gain information without having to deploy extra personnel to the scene.

Anna Belknap was still out of the picture this week, although the scenes about Danny trying to figure out boy names was a sweet touch. The best part was having him find out they are having a girl! Oops. The camaraderie between Danny, Hawkes, Adam (AJ Buckley), and Flack is solid, and cops, after all, are family. Watching them have a laugh together only reinforces the concept.

I appreciated the breather of not dealing with the Greek coin storyline. It deserves an hour all to itself. Mac has not yet put the involvement of Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) in the picture, and there should be an explosion when he does. To be fair, she did not kill her attacker. Angell did most of the work anyway. Now then, does this exonerate her? Not completely. Mac did say for her to stand down. He said nothing about someone else being involved. I thought Flack might have started to pick up something about Angell's work, but I could be wrong. Could the underhandedness of their operation comeback to haunt them later? Perhaps, There have been hints of more people who would gladly kill in order to protect their secret. So far, no names have been released. Who knows, the ambassador himself could be involved. I doubt that, only because Stella would have figured it out long ago. Besides, it seems to me to push credibility too far.

Det. Jessica Angell (Emmanuelle Vaugier) returned this week to help with an investigation. She and Flack are a good team on and off the job. These two are both what one would expect in a New York cop, with street smarts and not willing to take what anyone says at face value. Whoever put the reference to NYPD Blue into this week's episode should be considered a genius. Cahill is well known for witty lines, so the nod to a popular cop show is nice to see. Now, how long is it going to take before one of the cast members of that show makes a guest appearance on this television drama? More than a few actors would work well here.

Speaking of, how about another crossover episode? It has worked before with CSI:Miami. David Caruso helped to find an escaped prisoner ("Manhattan Manhunt"). Only the two leads appeared on the other show, but it worked just fine. Criminal Minds might also be a good choice, since it airs the hour before CSI:NY. There would be no need for viewers to wait for the ending. My personal choice would be NCIS, though. With Mac Taylor as a Marine, a visit from the Navy crime scene team is a reasonable suggestion. Seeing Mark Harmon, who plays Agt. Gibbs, a Marine himself, interact with Gary Sinise, might just make for some potent fireworks.

A new episode does not look like it will appear until April 8th or so. More than likely, a repeat is in the works for next time. Since this show tends to have its finale in May, going straight through until then doesn't usually work well.

Also at Blogcritics

TV Review: CSI:NY "Point Of No Return"


"Oh how the mighty have fallen!" That would be one way to describe the latest episode of CSI:NY, but it falls far from the true definition of just how powerful the episode is. In part, the intricacies are fairly simple. After all, the formula for a crime show is standard. Have crime, solve case. Easy, right? Well, almost. The complications in this case come from who is behind the lawbreaking and how the baddie committed it.

Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) has been a cop long enough to know nothing can be taken for granted. Through the better part of five seasons he has been trying to impart wisdom to those whom he works with most. Wait on evidence before any suspect gets arrested, just in case the person is not actually guilty. Most importantly though, never, ever, think someone cannot possibly have done something wrong. Crime is not hard, the trick is not to get caught. Most people are, which deters others not one whit.

After a woman is found dead in a hotel room, the shocker is her relationship to the department. She is Anabel Pino (Holly Lynch), wife of Marty Pino (Jonah Lotan). Marty was first seen back in season two when Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) left the Medical Examiner's office and joined the crime lab. Before Sid Hammerback (Robert Joy) got hired as the new department head, a couple of folks filled the gap. The writers got creative and decided to make an episode about a character long gone from regular appearances, but who still lives in memory.

Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) tells Marty the bad news, and sees if clues come up in conversation to help solve Anabel's messy death. It doesn't help Marty's case, since the young doctor was fired for unprofessional conduct. His grief though is palpable, which Hawkes, watching from the hallway, picks up on. I have to hand it to Cahill and Harper for the ensuing conversation. Harper shows just how much his character cares for a person going through the worst pain imaginable. Cahill, on the other hand, takes on the role of a cop not willing to put aside the possibility of wrongdoing on the basis of a friendship alone.

Flack, of all people, knows better. A while back, he had to watch Mac arrest a fellow officer, Dean Truby, for homicide. That was bad enough. To make matters worse, Truby stole narcotics from the scene of a drug raid ("Consequences"). Did he take Mac's word for it? Not a chance! He found out for himself after a jailhouse interview with the guy they arrested. He reminds Hawkes about getting proof, but Marty has to remain a suspect until the truth comes.

The reality, such as it is, is a shocker. Anabel has died as a result of what Marty got himself into. Suffice to say, he takes a coward's way out. While his actions are inexcusable, there is no denying that he needs serious help. Jonah Lotan gets serious kudos for his portrayal of a troubled soul. I could feel his desperation through every scene. The entire episode has a plot which viewers are going to think over for a long time. Did Marty do wrong? Of course. Then again, what he did was different from most criminals. The ethics of human life are not always black and white.

Robert Joy has a tough role to play in this episode as well. He faces the enormous burden of seeing a young man he respects show off a darker side. Marty must be held accountable for what he does, but the pain left behind is far greater. I would have been interested to see this storyline play out more. Lotan does not have to return, but other cast members could mention Marty from time to time. Considering that there are six shows left in the season, this is not entirely unreasonable.

Another storyline rears its head this week. Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes) has not stepped aside from her Greek coin case, despite being ordered to by Mac. She and Jessica Angell (Emmanuelle Vaugier) decide it is time to get answers, like where the guy is who attacked Stella in a subway tunnel ("The Cost of Living"). Forget the fact that the nogoodnik has diplomatic immunity, Stella intends to make him pay. As fate would have it, somebody else gets to him first. Mac takes over after the Major Crimes Department asks for help, but he has yet to realize Stella went behind his back.

I would have thought Mac might have figured things out by the time he calls Stella into his office. Apparently not, but somehow I doubt writers are stupid enough to have her tip off someone about a death she is not supposed to be anywhere near. She's smarter than that. Then again, she pulls Angell into the fray. Let's see, who will be more annoyed, Mac or Flack?

Season Five appears to be relying on a few storylines to get through its season. Lindsay (Anna Belknap) is now on maternity leave, which puts her in Montana for what should be several more episodes. What should have been the end of Stella's sub story will go on for more weeks down the road. Adam Ross (AJ Buckley) is still on the payroll, but who knows for how long? I'm not suggesting anybody fire Adam, but the status of New York's quirkiest lab tech is in the air. He has proven his worth though, which just might keep him employed.

Speaking of future episodes, there is already talk about what could be happening in the finale. It seems the Big Apple crime lab may lose another family member. Speculation as to who is all over the map, so I am not going to guess. However, I would caution any reader to expand the definition of family by including characters who have made any sort of impact on the show. Those already deceased can probably be left out though.

Previously published on Blogcritics.

TV Review: CSI:NY "Green Piece"


Leave it to CSI:NY to open an episode with a bang. After a house explodes, Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) and crew must pick up the pieces. Good thing Adam Ross (AJ Buckley) is playing street hockey nearby — he helps a man out of the rubble, a man who plays a bigger role than people realize.

For once, Buckley gets airtime for more than his typical lab routine. Viewers see his versatility, which is always nice. I like his getting hurt, it's the nature of police work. Besides, the scene looks odd if nobody has an injury. The house explodes, how does everyone in the immediate vicinity walk away without a scratch? Yes, the focus of the main episode is nothing new, but even so, the twists and turns are classic for this show.

The last time people saw the Feds and NYPD work together, an ATF agent attempted to prove a point about preparation for a large scale emergency ("Charge of This Post"). Granted, the response was different then. More lives were in danger instead of cops only arriving on scene after the fact. Still, Det. Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) understands that extra hands are crucial to getting the case solved. Why? Federal agencies have greater resources and a larger jurisdiction.

Cahill shows disbelief at the FBI agent's promise of help at first, which makes sense. Something has been rotten in Denmark ever since a cipher was stolen out of the evidence room long ago ("Sex, Lies, and Silicone"). This time, though, there is more at stake than turf wars. A Timothy McVeigh wannabe is someone to be taken seriously. Everyone gets that.

Whoever cast the role of Mr. Mayhem did a brilliant job. Sinise perfectly shows off his skill at intimidation without compromising police standards. I kept waiting for the eco-terrorist leader to spit in Mac's face. He doesn't, which says a lot for Mac's questioning abilities. The interrogation once the case concluded is a treat for the ears. The two actors are in sync as they each vow to continue their jobs. Could this be a continuing storyline? Perhaps not this season, but next would be good. Hmmm.... Shane Casey (Edward Furlong), who went to prison on a misguided brotherly mission ("Raising Shane"), and Mayhem could team up nicely.

The diction on the part of some of the actors could improve a bit. Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) talks about a person detonating a bomb with the pronunciation as 'bow mur'. Whoops! Major difference. What she meant is easy to figure out, but this show is taped. Splicing things together correctly would be helpful.

Dr. Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) finally says out loud how his role is defined — a crime scene investigator. Okay. So why is he acting like a cop? Last time I checked, that role generally involves the police academy. Adam doubtless does not appreciate the blurring of lines. After Hawkes asks if Adam had blown up the house, the look of shock is just the right touch from Buckley. Yes, Hawkes is teasing. I winced anyway. Whoever is in the props department might want to consider putting that badge Hawkes wears on the other side of his body, btw. The distinction would be appreciated.

Oh yes, Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Lindsay (Anna Belknap) have now tied the knot. This has been coming for a while, but the question of whether she would become a permanent part of the rough edged cop's life makes for good viewing. Longtime fans will appreciate the clips of Lindsay's first appearance on the show. Mac and Stella waiting at the city clerk's office is perfect. Flack, Hawkes, and Adam not being does not mean much. Someone has to keep an eye on things back at the station.

also on Blogcritics.