Story: After the discovery of a storage unit packed with falsified evidence, years of cases solved by the Las Vegas CSI squad seem to be in danger of being overturned. Of course, the forensics experts who worked all those cases know the evidence was legitimate, but with one of their own facing an uphill battle, it looks as if every one of the cases might be reopened. In order to make sense of the wild charges being discussed, CSI expert Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) returns to the department and she is determined to stand up for the cases she and her coworkers solved. She is impressed by the leaps in technology and science, working alongside the new generation of CSI investigators, though another familiar face soon returns as well, Gil Grissom (William Petersen). Can two generations of investigators overcome the odds and prove that the cases delivered justice?
Entertainment Value: As the title suggests, CSI: Vegas marks a return to Sin City, where the CSI franchise started off. This sequel series is a brisk ten episodes, so it goes by fast, though there is no shortage of stories and development here. The usual CSI formula is at work here, with a new case in almost every episode that is more or less self contained, while longer, more intricate story arcs unfold over the course of the entire season. Of course, not all of those arcs find resolution in this first season, but I think there is a great balance between the episodic elements of the smaller cases and the larger arcs, so this season is well crafted in that regard. The self contained cases feel a lot like the original CSI series, with Vegas vibes and splashy, often gruesome elements involved. I don’t know if I would put these cases with the best of the original show, but most are quite interesting and some are fantastic, so I think the concepts and writing here are more than solid. I appreciated the rather short ten episode run too, as it gets the stories going, but doesn’t feel drawn out or stretched thin. I had fun with this first season of CSI: Vegas and I think most fans of the series will find it to be worthwhile.
I also saw some complaints about the cast, as some seemed to want a total return to the old school CSI crew, but that doesn’t make sense here. CSI: Vegas is rooted in the lore of the original series, but also makes an effort to have fresh elements beyond the nostalgia. But with William Petersen, Jorja Fox, Paul Guilfoyle, and others on deck, there is plenty of old school energy here. I think the returning cast choices were right on the money, as seeing Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle back in action was a lot of fun, especially in how they interact with the department, which has evolved a lot since their last tenure. Petersen is terrific as always in this role and he is given just the right amount of screen time, as he’s around a lot and factors into the storylines, but the show doesn’t center him as much this time around. The new cast members are solid as well and would represent a new Vegas crew well, if the show’s intent is to pass the torch in these early seasons. Paula Newsome is given some very good material to work with and she is very good, while Mandeep Dhillon often steals the show.
The Disc: CBS released CSI: Vegas’ first season in a three DVD set, with a clean, detailed transfer that looks much better than I expected. You can also check out over half an hour of behind the scenes material, with three featurettes included.