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October 8, 2007

Miami Lice

I remember hearing about David Caruso’s tirades on NYPD: Blue and the legends of how difficult he is to work with. By this point, I am assuming Caruso wields a fair amount of control over CSI: Miami, and I am willing to bet the amount of Caruso’s control is directly proportionate to how utterly ridiculous the show has become. If we are now seeing Caruso Unchained, then no wonder David Milch resisted Caruso’s efforts to drive Blue.

Miami started out, in Season One, as an amped-up version of the infinitely more watchable CSI. But, I liked Caruso (and Kim Delaney, who was apparently fired after ten episodes), so I got involved with this. The photography is gorgeous and I liked the music and MTV-editing style. Some of the InstaForensics were a little over the top, but, I realized, yes, this was television and things needed to move along.

If you’re thinking of getting the box sets, seasons one and two more or less tell the story of Caruso’s unconsummated love affair with his dead brother’s widow, which ends in a kind of fairy tale before the major cast turn toward the camera and start walking together as the wind blows their hair and Caruso slips on his sunglasses.

Just, please, in the name of all that’s holy, stop there. Season three starts with silliness (a Latino gang member hiding inside a coffin at a gang member’s mother’s funeral. I could spend the rest of this rant telling you how utterly impossible that would actually be, not the least of which being the guys who move coffins routinely lock them—from the outside—when they are to be moved. And soon as that heavy lid started to go up, I guarantee you gang members among the mourners would draw down and light ol’ boy up. t was insanely stupid).

CSI:Miami is a fairly terrific show in seasons one and for most of season two. It starts going off the rails in season three, adding some awkward inter-personal nonsense between Horatio Kane (Caruso’s character) and an Internal Affairs cop Cane apparently leapfrogged at the academy or something. In Season Four, the show jumps the shark with this new, gorgeous Star Trek set that could never, and I mean not ever, actually get built by a metropolitan police department. It looks great, thanks mainly to cleverly-placed gels over big giant lamps and mini-blinds placed behind slanted glass walls—I’m sure the set didn’t cost a million bucks but it sure looks like it did. The problem is, no municipality would ever approve an expenditure like that. That money might go toward equipment and manpower, but the over-the top exquisite architecture and designer furniture?

The minute I saw the new set, I realized the show had jumped the shark. It had become, in its fourth season, a parody of itself. Kane’s bizarre and unbelievable “romance” with his subordinate’s sister was an utter waste. The actors had absolutely o chemistry, the jowly Caruso appearing to be at least old enough to be her father. Caruso’s warmth and wit, brimming in his Blue days when his Detective John Kelly balanced two convincing love affairs at the same time, was nowhere to be seen. The two characters had little of anything to say to one another throughout their courting, engagement and brief marriage, and their scenes together were simply excruciating. Worse, the gal, Marisol, seemed utterly helpless, incapable of clipping her nails without it somehow becoming a crisis. Her main purpose seemed to be to show up at CSI HQ and whine, in a voice eerily reminiscent of LaToya Jackson. She was absolutely excruciating to watch, and seemed to exist only to set up the lame season finale.

Perhaps unsatisfied with Miami being a cerebral process show, Caruso seemed apparently bent on making it an action-shoot-‘em-up show, brimming with endless violence, boat chases and SWAT team raids—things crime scene investigators absolutely do not get involved with. The show frankly makes me work way too hard at suspending my disbelief of this silliness. I *do* enjoy Caruso's hammy one-liners at the front—manly because I believe Caruso isn’t vain enough to take that seriously. He’s letting us in on the joke, he’s got to know he’s being silly and he seems to enjoy it.

The rest is a short cab ride from Adam West’s Batman TV show. Scariest about all that, is, I suspect as the seasons progress, Caruso’s control increases. We may actually be seeing what Caruso considers a good TV show. I doubt anybody on the sow tells him what to do anymore, so this is Caruso Unplugged. Raw Caruso.

It’s mildly interesting how he connected Horatio Kane to John Kelly—laying in this seemingly unnecessary back-story about Kane having once been an NYPD homicide detective. I’d be interested to see a flashback ep where Caruso puts on Kelly again, and morphs from the sensitive, exuberant Kelly to the cartoonish Batman figure Horatio Kane appears to be trying to be.. And, is it my imagination or he speaking quieter and quieter with each passing season?

Oh, and Caruso *is* doing Batman. Not sure that he’s ever admitted it, but that’s clearly what’s going on, here.

As I write this, Monday night’s broadcast is on. Man, is this violent. And silly. When, the entire point of CSI was to be, well, better than this.

BTW: anybody watching this show? Can anybody tell me why Detective Frank Tripp is back in uniform?



Not only is Caruso playing Batman, but he's playing the Animated Series Batman from Justice League!


Over at a message board I post at, this show is not called CSI: Miami, but rather "Horatio Caine: Supercop" because of how absurd the stories around him get. He's a scientist, a detective, a bomb squad expert, and an action hero all rolled into one. He's all rough edges, except for his heart of gold. He saves puppies and punches badguys. He's Horatio Caine, Supercop!

I just find it hard to swallow. I can get that they want to throw a bit more action into the show, so that it doesn't simply copy and paste the more lower-key and macabre CSI: Vegas, but that doesn't require having Batman as your head investigator.

I never watched the show regurally, but I found it a nice distraction here and there. But I gave up on it completely when they had the episode with the evil video gamers. Sorry, I've played violent video games before and I resent the implication that they turn people into killers. I question if I could kill someone even if it was self-defense. But CSI: Miami seemed to want to paint all gamers in one big black stroke. I was spitting nails after that episode.

On a lighter tangent Priest, I know you asked about TV season boxed sets a sabbatical or two back. Did you ever try out our suggestions?


CSI: Miami has jumped the shark more times than I can count, and I stopped watching it years ago.

Whether it's taunting people with age-progressed pictures of a fetus, or driving a Hummer into a building wired to explode in 20 seconds, then taking at least 30 seconds to save the person inside (yet still making it out in one piece), or serving up that abortion of an episode about the tidal wave, CSI: Miami always aims for the lowest common denominator, then dumbs it down even further.

I guess it should come as no surprise that the series has replaced "Baywatch" as the most-watched show worldwide. Ugh.


I haven't watched the show in a year, but I did see David Caruso himself a couple weeks ago. I was walking in the local park in Studio City and passed DC on the way to the playground with a baby. He actually kinda knew one of the people I was with, so he stopped briefly to say hello. He seemed nice enough, very congenial.

He's definitely not Batman on Saturdays. Shorts, t-shirt, and baseball cap all the way.



Regarding the show itself: the last time I saw CSI: Miami, Caruso was not listed as a producer in the credits. If that has changed, let me know. However, if he hasn't been given a producing credit, the change in the show over the last few season may have nothing to do with Caruso.

It's possible that the show has changed Show Runners over the years, and each new person has brought a different approach to the series. Also, about a year and a half ago ago, I heard the creator of CSI interviewed on NPR. He was discussing how the producers were taking greater pains to distinguish each of the CSI shows the others. So these jump the shark moments may be the result of the producers' efforts to make the shows different enough to attract the same audience.

Just some thoughts.


Brian Cz:

For some Miami flavor that actually looks like it's being filmed in Miami (the neighborhoods look more accurate to me anyway), check out Burn Notice. I'm sure there will be a season one marathon.



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