CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox television CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (commonly referred to as CSI) is a popular CBS television series that trails the investigations of a team of forensic scientists as they unravel the circumstances behind mysterious and unusual deaths in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ranked second in the June 2005 Nielsen Ratings with a viewership of 15 million, the show serves as the backbone of CBS's leading Thursday lineup.



CSI was presented for review to ABC in 1999, only to be dismissed as too confusing for the average viewer. Creator Anthony Zuiker then took the show to CBS, which placed it in its Friday lineup, where it shot to the top of the ratings charts.

After its initial success, the show's time slot was moved to Thursdays in 2000 in an attempt to challenge NBC's Thursday lineup, which boasted poular shows such as Friends, Will & Grace, and ER. CSI maintained its ratings in its new timeslot, and when Friends came to an end in 2004, its ratings strengthened.

In 2003, Spike TV purchased the right to syndicate CSI for a record amount of $1.6 million per episode. The nightly reruns quickly became that network's top-rated show.

CSI is sometimes credited with the resurgence of American crime dramas, although earlier shows like Law & Order had been mainstays for years. In addition to expanding the CSI brand with spinoffs such as CSI: Miami (2002) and CSI: NY(2004), the success of the show has also prompted CBS officials to develop their own raft of new investigative shows: Cold Case and Without a Trace. Other major networks have followed suit with shows such as Crossing Jordan, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Medical Investigation.

Although the show is set in Las Vegas, the production is actually based in Santa Clarita, California, and most scenes are filmed in or around Santa Clarita. The cast and crew do occasionally travel to Las Vegas to film on location.

In July 2004, CBS briefly fired stars George Eads and Jorja Fox, allegedly over contract disputes. In addition, Eads had reportedly been hours late for work on the first day of filming for the fifth season, and Fox had allegedly failed to submit a letter CBS confirming that she would be on time for shooting. The disputes were resolved in just over a week, and the two were rehired by CBS.

As for the show's broader social impact, it has also been credited with an increase in college applications to forensic science programs.

Main characters

  • Gilbert (Gil) Arthur Grissom (played by William Petersen) is the night shift team supervisor for the Las Vegas CSI unit, and a forensic entomologist with a degree in biology from UCLA. Nicknamed "The Bug Man", Grissom knows sign language and has inherited his mother's otosclerosis, a disease which was causing him to slowly go deaf which developed into a major plot thread throughout the third season. The surgery (and subsequent recovery) required to correct this onset of otosclerosis symptoms occurred in the unshown period between the third and fourth seasons. His hobbies include his work, cockroach racing, reading and roller coasters. His team is made up of four main CSIs, with assistance from a team of technicians. During the first four seasons, his team included Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown and Sara Sidle. With the creation of the swing shift team in the middle of the fifth season, his team now consists of Sara Sidle, Greg Sanders and Sofia Curtis.
  • Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) is a blood spatter analyst. She was second-in-command of the nightshift for the first four seasons, assuming command when Grissom was out of town or otherwise on leave. She recently moved teams to become supervisor of the new swing shift team. Willows, originally from Bozeman, Montana, first worked as a stripper, in order to pay her way through college at UNLV where she studied medical technology. She has a young daughter, Lindsey. Tragically, after her ex-husband's murder, she was unable to find evidence to assist in convicting his killer. In the episode entitled Inside the Box, Catherine discovers that her biological father is shady casino owner and murder suspect Sam Braun.
  • Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) is a materials and element analyst. A physics major at Harvard University, Sidle previously worked for the San Francisco coroner and crime lab. She was recruited by Grissom, a man she sees as more than just a boss. Sidle sometimes takes her assignments a bit too personally, especially if the victim is a woman. She was raised in a violent and abusive family, and lived in foster care after her mother killed her father. The details of this unpleasant past only started to be explictly revealed during the latter part of the fourth season with a pattern of alcoholism seen to emerge. This culminated in a somewhat fortuitous escape from a driving under the influence (DUI) charge. As the fifth season developed, it became increasingly obvious that this was not the extent of her problems as she began to diplay instances of insubordination and open hostility to witnesses.
  • Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan), a Las Vegas native and a chemistry major from UNLV, is an audio/visual analyst. A major theme of the first season (and especially the pilot episode) was his addiction to gambling and his subsequent attempts at recovery. He was part of Grissom's team for the first four seasons, but was transfered to the swing shift team under Willows in the middle of the fifth season.
  • Nick Stokes (George Eads), an easygoing and friendly ex-fraternity brother with a degree in criminal justice, is a hair and fiber analyst from Dallas, Texas. When he was 9 years old, he was sexually abused by a female last-minute babysitter. He was part of Grissom's team for the first four seasons, but was transfered to the swing shift team under Willows in the middle of the fifth season.
  • Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) was the head of the CSI unit until he was moved back to the police homicide division in the pilot episode. He's now Captain in the homicide division and works usually with the CSI team. He's divorced with a daughter named Ellie who was revealed in a later episode as not biologically his.
  • Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) is a young lab technician who idolizes Grissom and became a CSI joining Grissom's night shift team during the fifth season.
  • Al Robbins M.D. (Robert David Hall) is the coroner. Married with three children, he's often the only one who understands Grissom. He has two prosthetic legs and likes playing in rock bands for fun.

The series' recurring characters include Archie Johnson (Archie Kao), a computer and technical expert; Assistant Coroner David Phillips (David Berman); former dayshift supervisor turned Assistant Director of the Crime Lab Conrad Ecklie (Marc Vann) and lab tech David Hodges (Wallace Langham).


Although real-life criminal science investigators hardly leave the lab other than to conduct field tests and rarely (if ever) interview criminal subjects, CSI is acclaimed for portraying a little-known aspect of police procedures. Without dramatic embellishment in showing the responsibilities of the investigators, the show might not be as great a success. However, real forensic experts have complained about those embellishments. For instance, they have noted that the forensic examinations are unrealistically swift in coming to conclusions with equally fanciful tools. One example is the fictional computer databases the characters use to examine trace evidence like fingerprints against records in seconds, when the actual analysis is a long and meticulous process. That in turn has led to real police detectives making unrealistic demands on the experts.

There are also concerns that such TV shows cause juries to have unrealistic expectations about forensic evidence presented in court. This has come to be known as the "CSI effect" (see External links for further description). Another problem of CSI is not its falsities but its accuracy. Some FBI agents and police detectives have expressed distress at what CSI does to criminals. The more intelligent felons, says a FBI SAC are starting to get more clever with the dawn of forensics shows like CSI. In shootings, more and more often shell casings have been removed from the site of the crime. Stabbings sometimes have no prints, and criminals have just generally found a way to be smarter at what they do.


The show's characteristic gadgetry and occasional use of yet-to-be-invented technology has moved the show nominally into the genre of science fiction and garnered it with a 2004 Saturn Award nomination for best science fiction, fantasy, or horror television series.

The series is known for its unusual camera angles, high-tech gadgets, detailed technical discussion, and graphic portrayal of bullet trajectories, blood spray patterns, organ damage, methods of evidence recovery (e.g. fingerprints from the inside of latex gloves), and crime reconstructions.



  • You often hear the characters referring to a four-nineteen (4-19,4/19, etc.) or sometimes a 4-45. These are the Las Vegas Metro 400 Event codes. The often-used 419 stands for 'deceased person,' while the less-used 445 is 'explosive device threat'. Please see External links for more examples.
  • Episode 508: Ch-Ch-Changes - The outlaw doctor who performs "benevolent" sex reassignment surgery goes by the name "Dr. Carl Benway." Dr. Benway is the name of "an amoral physician" in much of the writing of William S. Burroughs. "Ch-Ch-Changes" is a variation on the song "Changes" from the David Bowie album Hunky Dory. (The lyrics[1] (http://www.teenagewildlife.com/Albums/HD/C.html) to "Changes" could be interpreted as Bowie's mediation on physical and emotional metamorphosis in a time of questioning one's true gender.)
  • Episode 524-525: Grave Danger: Vols. I & II- This season finale episode directed by Academy Award winner Quentin Tarantino has a very similar situation to a part of Tarantino's second Kill Bill film: CSI Nick Stokes is captured and buried alive in a Plexiglas coffin while an Internet camera broadcasts the whole thing to CSI headquarters. In Kill Bill Vol. 2, the Bride (Uma Thurman) was also captured and buried alive in a coffin.

External links

es:CSI fr:Les Experts it:CSI- Crime Scene Investigation nl:CSI: Crime Scene Investigation th:CSI: Crime Scene Investigation zh:CSI犯罪現場


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