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20 August 2007
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Review of CSI:Miami, episode #5x20,
TONIGHT ON CSI: MIAMI
Sam Hill directs "Rush". Written by Ildy Modrovich and Krystal Houghton.
Original airdate: 2007/04/16
Pre-credit punchline: "He's not going to walk away from this one," Tripp
"And neither will his killer," Horatio
Miami. The city that keeps the roof blazin' as Will Smith would have us believe. Our story opens with the sound of gunshots echoing through an empty storage facility. Two men are locked in a fierce fight for a gun. Eventually one of the men breaks free and manages to run to his car. He speeds away in a hail of bullets, but the car skids out, hits a wall and explodes in a giant fireball. Then a voice breaks through the roaring flames.
As it turns otr we're on a film set. A crew is shooting scenes for a new action movie "Full Tilt" starring young hot action star Brody Lassiter, but when the safety crew has finished putting out the fire, they make a shocking discovery: The body of Brody Lassiter stuffed into the trunk of the car.
Miami's finest are quickly on the scene. While M.E. Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander) examine the body and CSI Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter) check out the car, Horatio Caine has the honor of drawing up the first list of suspects. Could it be the stunt man Rob, who drove the car? Someone from the film crew tired of Brody's star treatment? The unapologetic director for example? Maybe Brody's hardworking assistant? or someone entirely different?
Soon, though, the team discover that Brody wasn't killed in the car crash or in the following fire. He was hanged before any of that happened. Perhaps he committed suicide? This leads the team to White Sands, rehab clinic for the rich and famous, where Brody was staying.
Natalia Boa Vista (Eva La Rue ), Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) and Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo) conduct the investigation. Brody was hanged alright, from the ceiling of his own rehab room! Defensive wounds suggest he didn't do this to himself, though. Someone else checked Brody Lassiter out of rehab. Permanently.
STRIKE A POSE. AND HOLD IT
I was always partial to "CSI: Miami". The original "CSI" was just a bunch of geeks in lab coats, but "Miami" had real cops, doing real police work. Car chases, explosions, shootouts.... what's not to like about that?
Even after David Caruso's performance has merged into an almost absurd pantomime of poses, he is still my favorite CSI boss, because when the writing is strong, it doesn't matter. He's the coolest cat on the block.
Lately, though, the writing hasn't been strong.
You can almost make a game out of spotting "The Impossible Forensic Trick of the Day". In this episode for example, the team manages to pull the reflection of a face IN A RING from grainy surveillance footage. A perfect example of the lazy writing that has plagued the series the last two years. In fact this episode as a whole is a perfect example of where it's all gone wrong, though it's by no means the worst episode so far.
The heart of "Rush" is really simple: A man is killed in rehab, there are x-number of suspects, but only one killer. Who did it? There's really no reason to complicate things beyond this. The basic premise is solid and it works.
It's almost like an old episode of Columbo or Poirot, where half the time is spent getting to know the suspects. And while the detectives slowly dig their way to the truth we - the audience - form our own opinion of who's the guilty one. Which of course turns out to be wrong. That's the fun part of a detective show, trying to second guess the professionals.
Unfortunately the writers of "CSI: Miami" insist on taking the path of maximum resistance, In fact they jump through hoops trying to create the most complicated story possible. It seems the writers simply "add more stuff" to the script, until it's impossible for the average viewer to try and guess who the killer is. And they hold back all important clues until the very end, just to make sure. In this episode a vital piece of background information on Brody Lassiter is not revealed until the final act, causing the whole case to unravel a nanosecond before the killer confessed, and leading to yet another unsatisfying climax.
Because of the way these episode are written, the pedestrian scenes, without any flashy CSI techniques, have to be rushed, causing even more stupid situations. Like when Wolfe and Boa Vista examine Brody Lassiter's room. They step through the door, shine their pocket flashlight around, and Boa Vista immediately walks over to the bed, looks at it for 2 seconds and picks up a single beautiful long hair! Right! And moments later they end up in another stupefying situation as they discover a hidden camera in the room, which turned out to be a fairly large box with a shiny blue light that would illuminate half the room at night! How cunning!
All these scenes could be rewritten so they make sense, with very little fuss, but you have 15 millions viewers every week, why bother?
The stories make no sense when you play them back in chronological order, as opposed to reverse order, which is usually how they're presented. Example: A drop of blood may lead to a killer and that's fine, but unless you can explain how the killer got there in the first place, not to mention dropped the blood, you have a problem. It's that second part that's often missing from "CSI", but since everything moves so fast, there's little time to ponder such things.
For all it's flaws this episode still has a few good moments.
How can you not crack a smile when "Rehab" by Amy Winehouse is blasting out on the soundtrack when the teams arrives at the rehab clinic? A nice little touch.
The best scene in this episode is when Eric Delko shares a moment with a sugarcube of a young addict who's pondering suicide. It's nice to have a character scene with Delko, who's been through so much lately. He was shot in the head in episode 5x14 and has struggled to get back to work since then. This is the first time he's had a chance to ponder his fate and acknowledge his co-workers' help, albeit not to their faces.
The episode also ends on a touching note, with a hint to Britney Spears' recent rehab problems, in a scene that feels surprisingly appropriate.
Steve Bacic stars as Rod Vickers
Delko "I don't trust you actors."
Rod "I'm a stunt guy!"
It's hard not to feel a little proud at the sight of your favorite actor standing side by side with the leads from one of the most popular series on TV. Steve Bacic has had his share of moments in the sun, but for some reason this role feels especially important. "CSI: Miami" is watched by more than 15 million people every week, in the US alone, and for a long time it's been a perfect stepping stone for young talented actors, or musicians for that matter, as the soundtrack is often graced with hot new tracks from budding artists.
Luckily Steve is also given the opportunity to leave his mark on this episode. He gets the entire opening scene to show off his fighting skills. He gets to square off with star Caruso and series-regular Rex Lin. He's interrogated one-on-one by Delko, and he's present in one of the trademark grainy oversaturated flashback scenes. Not a bad contribution. Unfortunately Steve is one of the early suspects, so he gets eliminated fairly quickly, but it's still a nice little role.
As Rob "the stunt guy" Steve plays it low-key and realistically. That's a good choice. One could easily imagine the role played as an obnoxious "I live and breathe danger, who the hell are you"-type, but this is a much better solution, bringing a human face to an often slightly cold series.
I would love to see Steve back as a regular in a series some day, but until then this'll do nicely. Just before "CSI: Miami" he did an episode of NBC's longrunning medical drama "ER". What's next? How about an appearance on "Desperate Housewives"? Those Wisteria Lane women could use something decent to swoon over.
For a series that has taken a two-year drop in quality an episode like this doesn't really help. It doesn't hurt either, tough. What's that saying? "Sex is like pizza, even when it's bad, it's still pretty good". Well, "CSI" is like pizza too. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good. But let's be honest. Given the choice between fresh homemade pizza and stale old leftovers, what would you choose?
"CSI: Miami" may have viewers, but it doesn't have my respect. For that it needs to show some common sense, and a bit of that original spirit that made it a hit in the first place. Drop the forensic magic tricks and concentrate on real stories about real people. Rich people killing each other on a whim for more money is NOT reason enough to tune in once a week.