Thursday, February 19, 2009

CSI NY “The Party’s Over” Before It Started

Photo from CBS

Wednesday’s episode of CSI NY (CBS), “The Party’s Over” involved a murder and a case of the “blue flu” for the police department. But this is one case where the CSI NY team delivered a story that seemed overly contrived, with ridiculous forensics and with weak acting.

The murder was of Deputy Mayor Kaplan (David Chisum), who happened to drop from the ceiling along with a pile of balloons at a formal-looking fundraiser. (I call it the show’s annual excuse to put some of the main characters in evening clothes.) Stella (Melina Kanakaredes) was there with her date Brendon Walsh (Ethan Erickson) who is a fireman. Of course, since Stella is first on the scene, she takes over immediately, with Brendon using his jacket to prop up the head of the deputy mayor. Why he did this I have no idea, since the man was clearly was dead. But it was only so he could get some key evidence attached to his jacket, pulling him into the story again later.

Mac (Gary Sinise), meanwhile, was detained from the fundraiser because someone yelled for help, and Mac chased down the criminal in his tux. It was a complete red herring by the way and a waste of story telling time. We didn't need it to see Mac arrest someone while in a tux to understand that a large number of the police force had come down with the blue flu in a protest. In fact, Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) decides that, after arriving at the crime scene at the fundraiser that he is coming down with the flu as well, and during the episode his colleagues moan to Lindsay (Anna Belknap) about Danny’s lack of dedication. In fact, it creates a real problem when Hawkes (Hill Harper) has to testify in court about a case that Danny was supposed to be testifying for, and Hawkes doesn’t have the complete knowledge of the case, which causes the case to be thrown out.

But back to the fundraiser. Robert Dunbrook (Craig T. Nelson) is planning on making a one million dollar donation to the charity. As he is the editor of The Ledger, it seems clear he is doing it for the publicity, or he expects something in return for his donation. Also, while the group is investigating the crime since, Kaplan’s brother arrives, concerned that Kaplan’s son seems to be missing and he was at the fundraiser with Kaplan. Adam (AJ Buckley), using a heat-sensing device, finds Jake Kaplan (Skyler Gisondo) hiding in a cabinet and coxes him out, and allows him to use his ipod. How touching...well, more like how trite.

But the forensics don’t add up with this case. It all points to HAIR. Magically, they find 10 pristine eyelash hairs with tags on them on a balloon, and a hair of a thoroughbred horse on the victim’s body. They mentioned that static electricity on the balloon helped draw the eyelashes to the balloon. Using that same logic, wouldn’t it also have drawn all the other hair that just happened to be on the floor at the event? There were a lot of people in that room, and I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t have had a huge amount of hair to collect as evidence. Still, they pick out only 10 eyelash hairs to examine. And, with the horse hair, they trace it back to a thoroughbred AND the horse's owner (Dunbrook), but never say exactly how they made the match. Is there a database of thoroughbred DNA on file somewhere? I can’t see how just having the hair itself would allow them to make a match, especially if the hair had no tag on it. And isn't animal DNA comparison muchmore complex and time consuming?

A weak link in this episode was Deputy Inspector Gillian Whitford (Julia Ormond). Ormond’s performance is flat in this episode. The scene where she was talking with the press was wooden and lifeless. It seems that she is just window dressing for the show. She finds a message on her car that later points them to possible corruption with the deceased deputy mayor and involvement from Dunbrook, which even may be affecting the police department finances. She responds to the matter by dialing the phone to call Dunbrook. Mac, of course, had to slow her down and tell her how the matter really needs to be handled. How did this woman get to be a Deputy Inspector? One would think she would know better than to make a frontal attack like that with a seasoned and apparently unscrupulous newspaper editor. Of course, Mac steps in and takes control, and later Kaplan gives Mac a check for $20 million to help shore up the police budget shortfall. Whitford later takes the check and plans to use it to end the blue flu, which it does. She assumes there are no strings attached, but I am sure there will be many.

Adam gets his chance to shine when he helps to draw out the story of the murder from Jake Kaplan. In what has to be one of the silliest murder scenarios ever, maybe really more fitting an episode of CSI Miami, Jake, in some sort of OCD frenzy of sorts, jumps on the back of his father and strangles him with his kiddie clip on tie. As Stella had mentioned earlier, it doesn’t take much strength to strangle someone, just the right positioning. In a moment of sheer stupidity, Adam gives Jake his ipod, which to me, should have been kept as evidence in the murder for a while, since it had traces of a chemical from Jake’s tie on it and which helped "tie" Jake to the crime (no pun intended). I suppose that they felt that they needed to give Adam his one touching moment of the season. I could have done without the saccharine.

But at the end, all seems well with the CSI NY team, as Danny returns to work after the blue flu has ended, and Hawkes seems to have put aside whatever issues he had with Danny’s stance and his actions. The problems for them may come later if they bring Robert Dunbrook back into the mix later on, because one just has to think that he will expect something in return for that $20 million dollars. And how far did that corruption with Deputy Mayor Kaplan go, and who else may be involved?

The hour moved by quickly, but this wasn’t one of their better outings. I could have thought of better scenarios for the Kaplan’s murder that would have set up further complications and storylines down the road. The whole premise of the kid being the murder was lame to say the least – they should keep these kinds of stories for CSI Miami, where kids seem to be frequently used as props to advance a weak storyline. And, unless Julia Ormond can show some more depth in this role, I say that she needs to go. I know the woman can act but her acting style may not fit this role or this show. For some reason, “The Party’s Over” seemed like a dud to me.

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