CSI is the Worst

This is from my previous blog – but it’s something I want preserved. Every once in a while, I’ll post things from my old blog just because I felt they were good insights, and fit in to this new place here. Also, I think this is a good segue into more posts about writing and issues of character, since most of what I have here has been related to gaming so far. Enjoy!

It’s all Ponies and Unicorns till Rick Castle Shows Up

I have never liked the CSI shows. It’s not the style of show, mind you –I love a good mystery as much, and probably more, than the next guy. Murder mysteries get my mind going, and I’m always kept interested. Hell, even the suite of CSI shows are at least mildly interesting to me, because they DO always have a pretty good plot.

The problem is, all the characters in the CSI shows are usually stiff as boards and have the personality of a pet rock. None of them are memorable to me, save David Caruso who has his idiotic one liners. Even so, I hate his guts. He is a terrible actor and his character is poorly written. The main problem I have with these shows is that the characters seem to have zero chemistry with each other. The plots are exciting, but a group of stiff jawed Police types standing around a room doing science doesn’t do it for me.

I’ve been around the profession of Police work my whole life. My father is a Police officer who has run the gamut of police work from patrol, to K-9, to Detectives. He’s an expert shooter and an extremely intelligent man who has knowledge and expertise in a range of law enforcement and forensic disciplines. A little of that is bound to rub off. That being said, I know detectives, and I know they are not the stiff bunch depicted in the more serious crime shows on television. Detectives joke around. They have extremely inappropriate gallows humor built in, because the job requires it. I guarantee you that the people in a show like the original CSI would have had an aneurysm by the second episode, as high strung and serious as they all are. I don’t think I saw “Grisham” crack a smile in the three or so episodes I ever watched.

For what it’s worth, CSI can plot an episode fairly well, but their characters lack chemistry and interplay. Character, as every good writer will tell you, is King. I’ve always said that people come for plot and stay for character. As a reader, on the surface I am always more interested in plot. If a plot sounds stupid or lacks structure, I won’t usually give something the time of day unless I have someone confirming that it’s amazing. However, just imagine a marketing campaign that is predicated on character depth (see – or not – most Oscar winning films).

“See the most interesting characters of the century doing stuff. This guy has memorable quirks! Buy my movie!”

Sounds pretty lame, huh? But time and again that is what keeps me reading, what keeps me coming back for more. In a television show, it’s just as important. A television program needs interesting characters with good interplay in order to keep me watching. I love murder mysteries! Really interesting twists make me say “hey, I want to watch this!” But the best plot in the world can’t replace a character with some interesting quirks and a neat outlook on things who interacts with other interesting characters.

One of my favorite such shows is “Castle.” I love that show to death, perhaps because it’s about a writer, but that’s off topic. It is an excellent show, and the interplay between the characters is fantastic. The main character is charming and annoying at the same time, one of my favorite combinations. Most importantly (and on a more personal note), the characters have interesting and funny things to say. A crime show has to make me laugh –see above about detectives with sticks up their butts.

Guess that’s all for today.

-Allen

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2 thoughts on “CSI is the Worst

  1. I very much agree regarding the CSIs. When CSI arrived at our shores billed as “the new hit show from the US”, I wondered why on Earth it was so popular considering that the characters had no personalities to speak of. I couldn’t remember anybody’s name and referred to the two female characters as “the one from Species” and “the one from Memento” for years. Meanwhile, I always referred to an unfortunately named fellow from CSI Miami as “cockroach”, because I originally misread the actor’s surname.

    The spin-offs were slightly better. CSI Miami at least had a personality for Horatio Caine and CSI New York actually has several characters with distinct personalities. And even the characters in the original CSI have developed personalities by now. It only took ten years or so to get there.

    Though I imagine that if you have experience with real life law enforcement, these shows and any police procedural for that matter must be painful to watch. The science is pretty bad as well, e.g. I recently saw an episode where half the cast of CSI Miami was caught in a gas attack that killed one cast member. The gas allegedly used was Halon, a fire fighting agent that happens to be non-toxic.

  2. See, the thing is that I don’t really have a problem with police-procedurals in general… it’s just the ones that have really bad character development. It’s strange, actually – growing up around a cop, we actually watched more police type shows, and a lot of mystery.

    It’s one of the most prevalent genres on tv, so it’s hard not to run into it. I suppose realism factors in occasionally, but I think a cop show would be infinitely more boring if it tried to be more realistic. For example, I love the show Castle. I think Castle would lose a lot of its charm if it tried to be realistic. More along the lines of CSI type shows, I really like NCIS. The reason is because the characters and actors have such a great chemistry, that I can suspend that disbelief, even if I have a more intimate knowledge of actual Police work than the average viewer.

    Haha, it’s surprising to me that the characters actually developed personalities. I suppose I’ve been away from it a little longer than I thought. On that note, I think CSI Miami may only have fans because it’s so cheezy.

    “It looks like this comment… has been posted.”

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

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