Wednesday, 22 August 2007

CSI: Miami primer

I'm sure anyone following the CSI: Miami tags on this post will already know everything they need to know about this most unique of shows, but in case you're wandering through here without having experienced it, here is a quick runthrough of the main characters.

Horatio Caine - The Mighty Caruso.
To say there is no other character in modern TV like him is an understatement. He's not even a character. He's a mood. A state of mind. Justice personified. The yin to evil's yang. A one-man pose machine. An enigma. He is of course famous for wearing sunglasses, but does he wear the shades, or do they wear him? The way he stares at them, often from the rear of the frame while everyone else does the actual police work, it's as if he is in communion with them. Do they guide him? If he ever solved a case, we might have to give some credit to the sentient glasses, but as he never seems to actually do any crime-solving other than intimidating perps or blasting hostiles to pieces, it's immaterial.

Calleigh Duquesne - Emily Procter.
Procter's departure from The West Wing, where she was light and funny and likeable, was already saddening, before she decided to turn up here as a humourless, pinched caricature of herself. I always thought of her as a light comedic actress (in a good way), so imagine my dismay when she was cast as a ballistics expert who looks like she's trying her hardest not to break out in a inappropriate grin in every scene. ::sigh:: Whatever. She's getting a big payday, so it's not like it's the end of the world. Plus, every so often she gets to act opposite the excellent character actor John Heard, playing her feckless alcoholic father. Or Foghorn Leghorn in a big hat. It's hard to tell what effect he's aiming for.

Eric Delko - Adam Rodriguez.
Ah, the inept Delko, prone to losing evidence (in an episode that was obviously running 20 minutes short and filled that time with a panicky Delko trying to pretend nothing was wrong), getting caught buying dope for his dying sister, and having outdoor sex with strangers against walls in the middle of Miami. How he keeps his job is beyond me. Perhaps it's his command of Russian, always useful in Florida. Or perhaps it's his incredible knowledge of sports cars and swamp-diving. Whatever it is, it's a good thing he's around. By season 4 Horatio desperately needed someone to stalk, protect from the boogeyman, and/or love, and Delko's cancer-ridden sister fit the bill perfectly. Until the kingpin of a Brazilian drug cartel had her assassinated. Oh CSI: Miami, how I love thee!

Ryan Wolfe - Jonathan Togo.
Brought in to inflate the cast after the death of Tim Speedle (see below), the young man known to Horatio as Mr. Wolfe was promoted to CSI from traffic cop duty after finding a clue. That's a rigorous selection process right there. Perhaps Horatio thought he could mold the man into a copy of himself. It was not to be. Whereas everyone defers to Horatio and respects him (even though he never does any work), for at least a whole season everyone hated Wolfe. His arrogance, snottiness, and ineptitude certainly justified the treatment, not to mention the outrageously pompous way he dismisses Natalia Boa Vista (see below), though that might be a consequence of her not falling gratefully into his arms in season 4. His finest moment, though, has to be getting shot in the eye with a nail gun. I was torn between being sickened to my guts and wanting to write a thank you letter to the writers.

Alexx Woods - Khandi Alexander.
Another employee who really should be let go soon. Not that she's as inept as Delko, but seriously, hasn't someone thought it odd that the Miami Dade coroner has conversations with dead people, and not like in that scary episode of Buffy from season 7? Several corpses have been patronised by Alexx, who refers to the ones she likes as, "Sugah". Other than that, she does very little on the show. Notably, she is one of the few characters who seems able to tolerate Mr. Wolfe, and coincidentally she is the only character other than him to be regularly thanked by Horatio as he leaves the room/crime scene, even if there are other people there. Why be selective? Even hapless Delko deserves to be thanked from time to time, especially if he doesn't contaminate the crime scene, hump a random witness, or accidentally kick evidence into a swamp.

Tim Speedle - Rory Cochrane.
Yes, I know that's not a picture from the show. It's only fitting I choose his greatest onscreen moment to memorialise him now that he's gone to that swish, glass-walled laboratory in the sky. Speedle represented the slob nation on CSI: Miami for a couple of years, before getting into a shoot-out and biting the bullet. His death was caused by a build-up of what looked like Crunchy Nut Cornflakes in his gun, a character quirk that had been set up in a previous season when Calleigh told him off for not taking care of his firearm. Other than that, Cochrane's time on the show is memorable for seemingly being a very uncomfortable experience for him. He looked embarrassed every week, mumbling his dialogue and shiftily glancing off camera as if looking for Richard Linklater to come and save him. And he did! Cochrane then went on to appear in A Scanner Darkly, and in five nervy, rotoscoped minutes he completely erased the memory of his time in Miami Dade. Hooray! If only Aaron Sorkin would stop being crap so that he could save Emily Procter.

Frank Tripp - Rex Linn.
We watched an episode of CSI: Miami last night that was particularly absurd, featuring carbombs and zombies, but it was notable for featuring possibly the first instance of deductive work by Detective Tripp. He picked up a golf club and said it belonged to a man because it was large. It's not exactly Sherlock Holmes, but for the first time he wasn't just relaying obvious information to Horatio (information that Horatio already knows, usually). I was stunned. Poor Rex Linn. He's been a dependable movie tough guy for a few years now, livening up many dubious films, such as Cliffhanger and Cutthroat Island (time to stop taking Renny Harlin's calls, Rex), and now all he does is act as Horatio's secretary. His most bizarre moment on the show was when he suddenly, with absolutely no prior warning, became a racist NIMBY, ranting about floods of Cuban immigrants stealing American jobs, to the immense displeasure of Delko. After almost coming to blows, their differences were resolved in a memorable finale, with Tripp and Delko teaming up to help a Cuban shopkeeper fix up his mini-mart in super-meaningful slo-mo, with Horatio smiling beneficently from the touchlines. I cried!

Natalia Boa Vista - Eva La Rue.
The most recent addition to the team. Prior to that, Natalia was a hastily introduced lab tech who, in a shocking twist, had been planted on the team as a mole by the FBI. I know what you're thinking. Well, actually, you're either thinking you're hungry and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes would go down a treat, or you're thinking, "Why would anyone want to investigate our heroes?" If you're thinking the latter, the answer is that the CSI: Miami team are notoriously inept and corrupt, constantly bending the law while obnoxiously taking the moral high ground against every even vaguely criminal person they come across. Her totally believable transition into a CSI has been hindered by her rivalry with Mr. Wolfe at his most slimy, as well as the reappearance of her evil abusive ex-husband, hilariously released from jail and instantly hired as a crime-scene clean-up guy just so he can keep pestering her at work. The only other things to note about her are that she succumbed to Delko's lumpen sex-vibe, possibly due to temporary insanity brought on by the guilt of being a mole, and she has the biggest Bambi eyes on TV.

Maxine Valera - Boti Bliss.
Where to begin with Valera, played by the delightfully named Boti Bliss? Well, she's a lab tech. And... erm... Oh! There was that one time she accidentally contaminated a bunch of evidence, or something, and she took a leave of absence for a while. Of course, this had to happen during the aforementioned FBI investigation. The picture I've used is from a seemingly anti-glamorous Ultradent promotional gig attended by the cast, which probably accounts for the severely pissed off expression Miss Bliss is wearing. We're only part of the way through season 5, and I'm hoping she gets more to do soon. She's one of the more likeable actors on the show, and so far does little more than relay exposition.

Brendan Fehr - Dan Cooper.
I didn't even know his character's name until I just checked it out on IMDb. Dan is the lab tech responsible for pressing the notorious "Enhance" button when looking at videos (God bless the internet hero who came up with that concept; apologies for not attributing it properly). He can also isolate the sound of a flea farting in a recording of a Korn concert. I totally believe the technology exists to do this. Other than that, I think Wolfe threatened him once when he said something rude about Natalia. You'll have to forgive me for being vague. There has yet to be a point to Dan. I can only imagine he's there because the CSI: Miami producers were jealous of CSI: Original Flavour having Archie Kao as their tech guy. Either that or Adam Rodriguez was doing a solid for his Roswell buddy Fehr.

If you've never watched the show before, hopefully now you can jump in and enjoy the various thrilling shenanigans of our heroes. Truly there is nothing on TV like it. That may seem like an erroneous statement, what with it being a spin-off with its own spin-off, but the other shows are utterly different. It has plowed its own furrow, and as a result is the most watched show on the planet, a fact that never ceases to amaze me. Long may it reign.

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