Why do so many people dog CSI: Miami?
It wins its time slot (Mondays or Sundays) all the time. It’s routinely in the top 15 or 20 of all shows. The cinematography is gorgeous, it has beautiful people and interesting stories. It also has David Caruso. I know for some, that’s enough not to watch. I’m here to tell you something: you are missing out if you don’t watch this show.
Some critics think CSI: Miami is too unreal. Hello? If this discussion is not about The Wire, then just about all other police shows are unreal. Nine years ago, CSI: Miami had the luxury of launching its pilot episode wrapped within an episode of the original CSI. There was a crime in Las Vegas that led to Miami where we basically got the mission statement directly from Emily Proctor’s character Calleigh Duquesne, “We do things more fanciful down here.” In the original CSI, you have the Land of Perpetual Shadow, pretty people wearing sexy clothing, and interesting characters. In CSI: Miami, Anthony Zuiker pitched the Land of Perpetual Sunset, prettier people wearing sexier clothing, and characters who are equally as interesting.
Throughout nine seasons, this group has experienced life, death, and everything in between. Calleigh is great, because she’s a blonde Southern belle who knows and likes guns, takes her job way too seriously, and has to deal with an alcoholic father. Hunky Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez) is a Cuban underwater recovery expert who learns his dad is actually a Soviet, the very man who put a hit on him. Ouch! If you’re okay with guys who are less hunky and noirish, also prone to wearing pastel ties with jeans and to gambling problems, Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo) is your guy. Omar Miller plays Walter Simmons, a Louisianian and art theft expert who’s come up from the night shift. And no TV police drama would be complete without a wise-cracking, blue-collar sergeant, played to perfection by Rex Linn. And, truth be told, Linn’s Frank Tripp gets all the best lines.
For all of the sometimes stereotypical characters this show presents, I’ve cometo love and appreciate their differences. My enjoyment of this show even prompted me to write episode recaps for season eight, a practice I stopped once CSI: Miami got booted from Mondays to Sundays, and the beginning of episodes kept getting delayed because of the vicissitudes of the NFL. Perhaps I wasn’t the only one peeved. I can’t help but wonder if the creative team involved with CSI: Miami, slighted at the time slot change, wanted to make sure and produce higher quality episodes this season. They succeeded.
Season Nine began by including the real-life pregnancy of actress Emily Proctor. The producers kept her in the lab—usually behind something solid—and promoted Eva LaRue’s character, Natalia Boa Vista, to the field. Boa Vista’s interplay with the other characters brings subtle humor to their grim jobs. She’s also had to deal with hearing loss, the result of an explosion, and has had some great scenes with David Caruso’s Horatio Caine. I can’t help but wonder if Season Ten will allow both actresses to share the spotlight.
What's with the eye rolls when I mention David Caruso?
For CSI: Miami, the spotlight will always be on Horatio Caine. Every show on television needs a star, and David Caruso is it. Caine, from the first scene of the pilot, demonstrates what kind of man he is. Caine approaches a lost seven year-old in the Everglades. They talk and he mentions that people are looking for her. He sits next to her and says, “Why don't we sit here and let them find us together.” As a new dad in 2002 when this show aired, I was hooked. To paraphrase, he had me at “together.”
Empathy is a good thing in a TV cop. There’s a lot of it and, some could argue, there’s more empathy in TV cop shows than in squad rooms around the country. Be that as it may, Caine has it in spades, especially with children, which makes his dark side all the more interesting. This season’s arc had the framework of a massive jailbreak and the CSIs tracking down the convicts. Naturally, Memmo Fierro—the man who killed Caine’s wife (and Delko’s sister) a few seasons back—was among them. In one episode, Caine has the drop on Fierro. “Are you at peace with your decision, lieutenant?” Fierro asks Caine. “I am,” is the reply. You can tell Caine gives some consideration to killing Fierro and cleaning up the mess later. But he arrests the felon and sends him back to
jail. If there’s a flaw in Caine, it’s that he tends always to come out on the right side. Even in the most dire of circumstances, he’s steely-eyed and confident, despite the fact that it usually means more grief for him.
Now you’re dying to know about the finale, aren’t you?
In the final episode, “Mayday,” Caine and Tripp fly the last escaped felon, Jack Toller, back to Miami. When the steward of the private plane draws his gun, Caine attempts talking, but things go south—the steward’s dead, the pilot’s dead, the co-pilot’s injured, but lands the plane. Escapee Toller, played with cruel relish by Callum Keith Rennie, escapes. . .again. Yeah, yeah,I know. The CSIs and Caine pursue him as he kills one woman, takes another hostage, and coerces his old cell mate into doing his bidding.
After a tip by the distraught cell mate, Caine and Natalia plan on meeting him at a pier, thinking he has intel on Toller. Without warning, Caine is shot. The look of utter shock and pain on Caine’s face as he realizes he’s hit is money! That’s the type of gravitas Caruso brings. Caine struggles to help Natalia, but she’s put in the trunk of a car, and the best he can do is get off a few wild shots. The deed’s done, the trunk’s closed, and the car’s sent into the water. The final sounds we hear—to last us the next five months—are Natalia’s screams and the busy signal on her phone.
For anyone who hasn't watched CSI: Miami in a long time, take a look over the summer. CBS even has recent episodes online. I suspect you'll enjoy it. You might be surprised.