Saturday, March 14, 2009

CSI “No Way Out” A Rare Dud

All Photos CBS
This week’s episode of CSI was somewhat of a rarity. It was a resounding dud, a complete 180-degree change from the previous week’s interesting Nick Stokes (George Eads) feature titled “Turn Turn Turn .”
“No Way Out” involves a case that later puts CSIs Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne) and Riley Adams (Lauren Lee Smith) in a hostage situation. On the surface, it sounds interesting, but I actually found myself becoming very confused about mid-way into the episode, and eventually fell asleep while watching it. (Good thing I set the DVR to record the show anyway).

There were several problems with the episode. I knew it was off to a bad start when we see a group of CSI entering, with guns drawn, what looks like a darkened warehouse and possible crime scene. I found myself wondering why CSIs would be entering a building in this manner, since it seemed as if it would be unlikely they would be entering a scene that had not been previously secured by police. My suspicions turned out to be correct when it was revealed this was just a training session. We learned that in this training session that they can call each other by the wrong names as code to tell them something is wrong. Right off the bat, I felt like I had just been robbed of five minutes.

They are then called to a real crime scene where a fight had broken out and a person from the neighborhood crime watch was shot and killed, along with a young boy who was likely shot by an errant bullet. And this is when I started to really lose the show. At one point, there were almost too many people involved in solving this crime that I couldn’t keep track of who they were pursuing. At one point, the entire CSI crew is looking over a giant enlarged photograph of the neighborhood where the crime occurred, and I asked myself, why would anyone spend the money to make a picture like that when the could have just blown up a digital image on a large monitor? It didn’t make sense to make such a large print. Then the dialog begins between them, which seemed to have been written in a manner that gave everyone a line or two. The problem is that all of this dialog was delivered with the excitement of a grade school student being forced to read lines of a play from a textbook to the whole class. It was stiff and lifeless, not to mention that it confused me as to who or what they were targeting in their investigation.

Then comes the even more ludicrous part. When Riley and Langston go back to a house to investigate, they stumble upon a ringing phone, which is coming from behind a closet wall. Langston finds a panel that he opens, exposing a doorway to a darkened basement. Rather than turn on a light, they use flashlights, with Riley, who is allowed to carry a gun, going down the steps first. When they see chemicals all over the place, they make what I think was a CSI blunder – they keep entering the basement and continue looking around. Shouldn’t their first call have been for backup and for Hazmat? I guess not. Even worse, Riley says later that Hazmat wants them to check it out first and tell them what is down there before they come in. Excuse me, but wouldn’t it make more sense for Hazmat to enter and area and make that determination – along with the proper protections and precautions – and determine how to handle it? It seemed very backwards to me. Of course, things go badly when Langston sees blood on the floor, and whispers for Riley to get out, as it seems there may be another hidden room. Instead of saying nothing and just pulling her out, he had to even whisper that he found blood, which seems to draw out a kid with a gun behind another fake wall, with a second kid injured in the room. (Lots of fake walls in drug houses, I guess.)

As Riley and Langston are held hostage, they convince their captor to let them work on the injured kid. Had it not been for Fishburne’s acting skills, the episode would have been a total loss. Smith’s overly stiff acting just sucked all the life out of what should have been an even more dramatic scene. The training session came in handy for Riley who called Sanders by her name in order to tip him off there was a problem at the scene. (I still felt like I lost five minutes from that training scene.) At the end, when everyone is saved – which was a foregone conclusion – they all stand outside and Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) gives Langston a big hug, making me wonder why she didn’t also hug Riley, since Riley actually helped to save the day too.

Speaking of Marg Helgenberger, I am finding her to be looking scarier by the week. I hate to hone in on someone’s appearance, but she is looking too gaunt and her face is mask-like. Her hair is so straightened that it seems pasted to her head, and she is actually starting to look worn out. I think she needs to gain a few pounds and do something about adding some life to that hair to help brighten her face. OK, my shallow comments on that subject are over.

Fishburne adds an exciting air to the show, and brings a spark to every scene he is in, despite the fact that his character is low key by nature. Sadly, there are supporting players on the cast that are beginning to drag the show down - Eric Szmanda and Lauren Lee Smith are the two that first come to mind, but Helgenberger is also finding herself on the list of becoming tiresome. Maybe “No Way Out’ was an aberration and we can only hope that “no way” will it happen again.

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Ruth said...

my name is ruth.

I was wondering if anyone new the song that was playing when catherine and langston were hugging. I really liked the piano part... I tried looking at other place and they said "incomplete" by the backstreet boys but thats not it.

I Like to Watch TV said...

I checked the episode credits and there was nothing specific listed for that ending piano music. It may have just been a generic tune written by their music soundtrack people.

Anonymous said...

Funny, different strokes I guess. I liked the episode, thought the constant tension was the first time since Nick's near death, even though we were all pretty sure the cast was going to live and that tends to set a low cap on how tense an episode can be. The opening training scene tipped you off that it was going to be that kind of episode anyway.

Now the 200th episode...THAT put me to sleep.