Completing the holy trinity of forensic criminology, “CSI: NY” plays out exactly the way auds will expect it to, while, truth be told, bringing up the possibility that enough’s enough. There’s nothing terrible about it: Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest whirl has dark lighting, depressing cases and a structure the entire world seems to dig. But it’s not a felony to want something more out of what is definitely the hottest franchise on TV. Kalamazoo and Des Moines could get their own versions, and the ratings would be stellar, so that’s not really the issue; the show’s evolution is.
In its debut episode, “CSI: NY,” which goes up against the Peacock’s stalwart “Law & Order” at 10 p.m. Wednesday, doesn’t provide much of a punch. Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes are the draws here, but, to a certain extent, Gotham should be too, and the kickoff hour pays little tribute to the city. Whenever Manhattan is involved, there needs to be something special — at the very least, germane — yet this seg could have taken place anywhere.
Assuming that eventually changes, the key, then, is how much viewers are willing to buy — all over again — the murder-of-the-week construction.
Probably in droves, but with five Bruckheimer sked slots on CBS, including “Without a Trace” and “Cold Case,” and Dick Wolf’s motor still revved on NBC, the nonstop chronicles behind the evil that men do are starting to wear thin.
In the debut, two bodies are found, and brooding Det. Mac Taylor (Sinise) eventually decides that a serial killer is on the loose.
He’s got the sexy colleagues to help him prove it: Stella Bonasera (Kanakaredes) is his partner and emotional equal; Danny Messer (Carmine Giovinazzo) is gorgeous; Aiden Burn (Vanessa Ferlito) is gutsy; Sheldon Hawkes (Hill Harper) is the streetwise coroner; and Don Flack (Eddie Cahill) is the tough guy who utters Andy Sipowicz-ish threats to all kinds of perps but doesn’t really pull it off.
A la “Seven,” the team eventually tracks the corpses to a ratty apartment, and there they find another femme still alive, unable to communicate except for blinking. After some amazingly coincidental finds, a muddied description of an uncommon crime and a lot of cop-speak, everything is easily solved … and it’s on to another sicko.
Sinise tackles what is probably the most anticipated role of the new season with lackluster authority. He definitely will be bringing some baggage to what is by now a caricature cutout, but starting off, he’s just plain dull.
As for the others, Kanakaredes neither blows nor blows away her first tube role since “Providence,” and the rest of the gang is there simply to be hunky. Nobody’s going to trump the original’s supporting cast of Jorja Fox and George Eads.
The look, however, is pitch-perfect. The tech wizardry makes everything feel like it’s in police stations nationwide, and the below-the-line elements, from lensing to production design, are glossy and finely tuned.
But what’s missing is some reality; comparatively, “NYPD Blue,” “Homicide” and so many other cop skeins offered more authenticity, while this comes off as something made to please a focus group. Indeed, more focus on reasonable plotlines and personalities would jazz this joint up.