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Since the time it went on the air, CSI has been one of my favorite shows. An entertaining look at crime solving from the perspective forensic science, CSI was and is the show that raised the bar for all television based police procedurals. Sure, compressing forensic investigations into a forty-three minute timeslot does provide a distorted view of how things actually transpire, but thatís why they call it dramatic license. The premise of CSI follows the criminal cases investigated by the forensic scientists working the night shift out of the Las Vegas Crime Lab, one of the busiest in the United States.

Lead investigator and night shift supervisor of the Las Vegas Crime Lab is Dr. Gilbert "Gil" Grissom, Ph.D. (William Petersen), a forensic entomologist, who always puts the science first and allows it to lead him to the solution of every puzzle. Grissom is also one of the most understated and fascinating characters in the history of episodic television. Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) is a CSI Level 3 and divorced mom, who is raising a young daughter, while dealing with a problematic ex-husband. Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) is a new CSI from San Francisco who is brought into the Las Vegas Crime Lab Grissom to assist with internal issues, but ultimately becomes a permanent member of the team. Unlike Grissom, Sara can become somewhat volatile during investigations, especially when domestic violence is involved. Nick Stokes (George Eads) is an empathic CSI, who sometimes takes too much of a personal interest in his casework. Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) is an occasionally troubled CSI, who finds himself supported by Grissom, despite personal and professional difficulties. Detective Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) is the former night shift supervisor, who is returned to the homicide division, but continues to work directly with the CSI team in their investigations. The season one cast also features Eric Szmanda, Robert David Hall and Marc Vann.

CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION- THE FIRST SEASON ($90) comes to Blu-ray Disc in a five-disc set that features the following twenty-three episodes that were aired during its freshman year: Pilot, Cool Change, Crate 'N Burial, Pledging Mr. Johnson, Friends & Lovers, Who Are You?, Blood Drops, Anonymous, Unfriendly Skies, Sex, Lies And Larvae, I-15 Murders, Fahrenheit 932, Boom, To Halve And To Hold, Table Stakes, Too Tough To Die, Face Lift, $35K O.B.O., Gentle, Gentle, Sounds Of Silence, Justice Is Served, Evaluation Day and Strip Strangler. Highlights of season one include the investigation of a man who was killed on board a commercial airliner, the massacre of almost an entire family, a serial killer operating along a major highway, a mad bomber, a possible case of spontaneous human combustion and perceived animal maulings, which turn out to be something far more insidious.

CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment has made all twenty-three episodes from CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION- THE FIRST SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 wide screen presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Note: The Blu-ray release marks the first time season one has been available for purchase in the widescreen format, so this is indeed a treat for fans! The 1080i presentations offer a tremendous visual improvement over the NTSC rebroadcasts of season one. In fact, I have never enjoyed watching CSI season one as much as I have with this Blu-ray release. CSI features mildly stylized visuals that are very well rendered here; image sharpness and fine detail are excellent for a television production, especially the close-ups. The picture can be highly dimensional at times; sunlit exteriors and desert vistas are generally impressive. Colors favor a warmer pallet and appear fully saturated. Blacks are deep and the whites are crisp. Contrast runs hot in places, while shadow detail is more than respectable for a television production. The elements from which CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION- THE FIRST SEASON do display minor blemishes. Some grain is present, but not to an excessive degree. Occasional artifacts creep into the image, but there are not enough to be distracting.

All of the episodes that constitute CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION- THE FIRST SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. For a dialogue driven, television based, police procedural, CSI features pretty impressive sound. Well-placed and clearly defined directional effects are present whenever the material allows. A good deal of care has gone into the sound design, thus creating living acoustic spaces that are abuzz with small sounds and ambience. Fidelity is very strong and the musical component really benefits. The bass channel adds a strong foundation for the sound, without any unwelcome artificial depth. Dialogue is clean and easy to understand. Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 channel stereo soundtracks are also provided for the episodes. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard episode selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is the Unaired Directorís Cut Pilot, which comes with an optional running Audio Commentary from director Danny Cannon. Next up is Rediscovering The Evidence, a newly produced, nearly half hour retrospective HD program that is replete with cast and crew interviews. People Lie But The Evidence Never Does is a twenty-minute program carried over from the DVD release. Sprinkled throughout the set are Deleted/Extended Scenes taken from various episodes. Episode Promos and a Gag Reel close out the standard supplements. CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION- THE FIRST SEASON is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

Just for the simple fact that CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION- THE FIRST SEASON is finally available in wide screen makes this release a worthwhile upgrade over the Fullscreen DVD. Add a good quality hi-def picture and excellent sound to the mix and acquiring the Blu-ray is a no brainer for fans. Recommended.



CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - Season One [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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