We nearly didn't bother watching S2 of CSI NY. That would've been a mistake! It's a huge improvement over the first series, and is thoroughly entertaining television.
After the cosy familiarity of the original Las Vegas CSI set up, the first episodes of Season One in New York were grim. The NY spin off was deliberately gritty, intentionally harsh. While intense drama is always watchable, you have to be a bit careful of this with series TV and overall we found the first season of CSI NY to be just too uncomfortable and nerve-wracking. Like Millennium, it was just too close to the bone to be thoroughly enjoyable.
The producers must have felt the same because the second season of CSI NY is much brighter, much less oppressive and so much more entertaining. The characters are given space and depth, and the plot lines are far less harrowing. The overall feel of the production is less intense, and the result is a better, more watchable tv programme.
Gary Sinise is the lynchpin of the series and his character, Mac Taylor, has become one of my favourite fictional heroes. The character's back story as a decorated Marine officer stimulates some fascinating episodes and Sinise carries off the role with charismatic dedication.
The supporting cast have grown in stature -- the addition of a new CSI from Montana was a masterstroke -- and a slight reshuffle among the other roles has worked really well. All of them can carry a spotlight episode on their own, so you don't feel disappointed if any epsiode centres on one character.
Even though the series is definitely lighter this time, it still tackles some serious issues and our team are all put at risk in various epiosdes. If I have a criticism it's that the job becomes personal too often, and sometimes it's heading towards a soap about the characters rather than a detective story with regular players... but that's a minor gripe.
Buy it or rent it -- if you buy it then you'll certainly be able to watch some episodes over and over, to catch all the details.
Of course, with CSI you get great effects and some mind-bogglingly daft plotlines, but those are to be expected. Sometimes I yearn for a really straightforward death and old fashioned police work -- because some of the plots really are bizarre -- but it's not a documentary, after all.
It is compelling entertainment. 45 minutes of near perfection.