Since its debut in 2000, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which depicts the crime-solving work of Gil Grissom (William Petersen) and his team of smart criminalists in modern-day Las Vegas, has inspired a loyal fan following and won critical acclaim and ratings success
Steven Cohan’s insightful study of CSI introduces the show, its main characters and stand-out features, such as the role of science, and the use of unexpected and often bizarre episode openings and plot resolutions. Cohan makes a case for the series’ classic status, arguing that it has been responsible for the twenty-first century reinvention of the cop show in a fresh, more suburban and also a more intellectual model which has spawned both the spin-offs of CSI: Miami and New York and numerous imitations. Cohan addresses the series’ visual style, its attention to both cutting-edge forensic technology, the often grotesque condition and dissection of corpses and CGI close ups to represent the effects of weapons on the human body, and goes on to consider the series’ setting, in which the theme-park delights of the new Las Vegas exist alongside echoes of its gangster-ridden past, and the contrast drawn between the flashy spectacle of the Strip, suburban Clark County and the arid landscapes of the Mojave desert. Cohan analyses CSI’s consistent questioning of identity and the status of ‘normality’, from its theme song – The Who’s Who Are You?, to numerous episodes that feature subcultural groups such as the deaf, ‘plushies’, vampires, scrabble players, dwarves, fat people, transsexuals and, in a story arc featuring the series’ most popular character, Lady Heather – the s/m scene.Finally, Cohan questions how mainstream success and imitation has affected CSI’s edginess, and speculates on a future for the show post-Grissom.