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.

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