Thursday, September 25, 2008

CSI NY: “Veritas” Very Predictable

Photo from CBS

While CSI NY is far better than its Miami equivalent, it seems that the show is becoming routine, and also increasingly unrealistic It’s not just all the glitzy special effects, it’s how easy the crimes are to solve and how complex evidence can be just so conveniently available and analyzed so fast.

The season premier, “Veritas” picked up where the season finale, “Hostage” left off. But, while Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) was being taken hostage by an apparent bank robber named Joe (Elias Koteas), something happened and Mac finds himself in a car that is sinking in deep water. He pulls himself out, and easily finds his way to a road, where he stops a passing car and enlists help from the woman behind its wheel. He proceeds to call Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) to give her his location.

When Stella and Flack (Eddie Cahill) arrive at the scene, they are told they can only take photographs as the Jersey police have claimed jurisdiction. As a body was also in the car and it has a connection with the bank crime, they have a little more information to go with. But it seems clear that Joe is still out there, trying to get his hands on the money from the bank robbery. The ME (Robert Joy) is able to do a virtual autopsy on the body, which magically hovers like a 3-D hologram in mid-air.

Mac also finds some more evidence when an apparent magic bullet drops out of his clothing. There is also a hole in his shirt. It seems Mac was shot at through a window, and the window slowed the bullet enough so it only had enough power to pierce his clothing. Amazing!

Complicating matters more is that Adam (A.J. Buckley) ties Flack’s sister Samantha (Kathleen Munroe) to the case. Adam breaks protocol and tells Flack before he tells Mac, but I really don’t understand why. Flack finds that Samantha loaned her car to an acquaintance, Lauren, who winds up dead in its trunk. Lauren had nothing to do with the murder. But, as luck would have it, they find evidence on Mac's own evidence case that ties Joe to a plant that can only be found in certain places. Of course, they find the exact place where the plant is at, find a hole recently dug, and find that Joe has buried several passports and IDs there for his use. And, it appears that Joe – or whatever his name is – is watching them, because he calls them and taunts them. He also said that Lauren’s death was an accident. It seems Joe can see Mac and Stella from where he is calling, and they try to trace his call with no luck.

Back at the lab, rather than check all the IDs for any prior records, they check to see which IDs are legitimate and then only check the ID for that one. Wouldn’t it have been quicker to do a cursory check on all, and then the one with the record would have flushed out immediately? It was a roundabout way to get to the clue. They find that Joe’s real name is Ethan Scott. They are able to track him down easily by getting the travel plans for his wife, Allison (Deena Dill). They tip off his wife to Ethan’s crimes, and of course, an unwitting Ethan walks right into the trap. Mac gets his man. And Mac is happy because after all, Joe/Ethan "pissed [him] off". (That's right Mac, it is all about YOU!)

The problem with this episode is that it was just all too easy, and all too predictable. It is amazing to me that all murders and crimes in the world can’t be solved like this – within what look likes the time span of a day or less. But of course that’s not possible because REAL crimes don’t always have magic bullets, the unusual plant life that can only be found in very limited locations, the tire track that has magic properties, or science-fiction like forensics tools, to name a few. But there is an inconsistency with all this magic when they can’t quite make out Joe’s face when his photo is snapped at a toll area, yet they can make out the tiny vehicle identification number on the door of his car from the same photo.

Of course, the most obvious thing that saps the drama is that we know that Mac, while he was hostage in the season finale, would come out fine. After all, he is the star of the show, isn’t he? It’s just like CSI Miami where we all knew that Horatio Caine (David Caruso) wasn’t going to be dead. It seems that some of these crime shows aren’t trying hard enough to have real, believable cliffhangers any more.

Maybe I missed something, but why exactly did Adam feel that he couldn’t take the information about Flack’s sister’s car to Mac to begin with? Why wouldn’t Adam not trust Mac to do the right thing with it? Is there something between Mac and Flack where Mac would have turned on Flack with the information? Maybe it’s some past history with Flack’s sister and Mac that I have forgotten, either way, it seemed an odd move for Adam to make.

So while this episode was better than the CSI Miami premier – the CSI NY team seems to be actually showing some acting depth – the story itself was average at best. I hope they don’t fall into the CSI Miami trap of glitz over substance. Now that, would be a crime.

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