Reading CSI: Crime TV Under the Microscope
by Michael Allen (Ed.)
Edited by Michael Allen
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
I.B. Tauris Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781845114282
Date: 1 September 2007 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Which is your favorite, Las Vegas, Miami or New York? The CSI television series is in all three places. Reading CSI: Under the Microscope, edited by Michael Allen, looks at each series and the entire franchise in a critical way, to discuss all aspects of making, viewing, selling and marketing the program in the United States and overseas.
Reading CSI: TV Under the Microscope, edited by Michael Allen, is a collection of essays by various authors about, you guessed it, the CSI television series.
CSI stands for crime scene investigation. Simply, this is the branch of the police force that investigates crime scenes to find evidence to support an arrest or a court case. Under the microscope is a very appropriate title for this collection. The essays are scholastic and often philosophical studies into many aspects of the programs. The essays are very detailed, similar to what I would consider a "film study" course at a college or university.
Michael Allen, the editor of Reading CSI: TV Under the Microscope wrote a forward in which he outlines the content of the book. It is divided into six sections:
Part II: Interrogation: Narrative and Narration.
Part II: Trace: Aesthetics, Style and Form.
Part IV: Forensics: Theoretical Positions.
Part VI: DNA: Industry and Reception.
For my review, I will concentrate on the details of some of the essays that I found most interesting:
One of the most surprising things I found as I read throughout the collection is the British influence. Being the good American that I am, I think of CSI as a Hollywood production and I think of Hollywood as uniquely American. I was pleasantly surprised. In the final section, the essays "RTE and the CSI Franchise" by Dermot Horton, and "Five's Finest, The Import of CSI to British Terrestrial Television", by Simone Cox, talk about how the British TV networks purchase American TV shows and how the different British TV networks reacted to the purchase of the CSI series.
My favorite essay was "So Many Different Ways to Tell It, Multi-Platform Storytelling in CSI", by Michael Allen. This essay is about other types of media available about CSI. There are CSI video games, where players look for clues to solve crimes. Also available are novels using the same characters and locations. Per the essay, the TV shows emphasize crime solving, whereas the novels are where more development of characters. Gil Grissom (played by William Peterson), from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Las Vegas), is my favorite TV character, and I look forward to reading some of the novels to find out more about him and his personality.
Another essay "Dissecting CSI, The View from the Trainee and the Professional", by Daryl Vinall and Shelley Robertson, is a comparison by two forensics professionals about the scientific aspects of the show. One individual is a new forensic technician and the other is a practicing forensic pathologist. They both come to the same conclusion. They agree that the career of forensics in extremely interesting and rewarding, however they also agree that the TV shows add aesthetics to make the process more interesting for entertainment purposes. Their main comments are that the real job does not move as fast as the TV show. Also, that the TV shows always seems to find the critical and conclusive piece of evidence whenever they look for it. The real job is very tedious with large amounts of paperwork, which would not make for good entertainment.
Although Reading CSI: TV Under the Microscope is not a story, I have to admit that now as I watch CSI, I view the show differently. I find myself thinking, "Hey that is the color difference they were talking about," or "Yes, I understand what they meant about the music selection." It makes watching the show more fun.
I recommend the whole essay collection to fans that like to view and analyze a TV show by getting behind the eyes of director, or inside the mind of a producer. If you are interested in a particular aspect, such as fashions, music, colors or characters, I recommend that you choose a particular essay, and read it to expand your knowledge.
Reading CSI: TV Under the Microscope is for hard-core CSI fans, like me. Also included in the collection are an episode guide and a detailed bibliography. CSI fans can find further books and movies that will feed the same desire that craves the series. If you like the details of the show, you will enjoy the more in-depth look into the details and messages behind what you actually see on TV.