CSI is simply the best US police procedural drama (which, given how many there are, is saying quite a lot). The stories are strong and there is a cast of interesting characters. The central character, Gil Grissom (brilliantly played by William Peterson) is the reason it works so well. Grissom is wonderful character - an introverted and rather unemotional man, a serious scientist who happens to be a criminologist. As such he is free for most of the traditional TV cop baggage, giving the whole series a fresh and interesting perspective. In this series, the CSI team gets on with investigating crime scenes and solving mysteries attempting, but not always succeeding, to do this without bias or preconceptions. They leave the police work to others. Unfortunately, this model was abandoned with CSI: Miami making it a much less interesting program. The rest of the cast is also very, very good bringing complex and interesting characters to life. Marg Helgenberger as ex-exotic dancer Catherine Willows is particularly good. Danny Boyle directs most of the episodes with great style (redeeming himself after the failure of Judge Dread), even his habit of focussing in at a microscopic level (e.g. looking at blood vessels etc) works well. Setting the series in Las Vegas works well - the city, the desert, the mountains - they all provide great backdrops and look fantastic. This is not the best CSI series (the show really got going in series 2) but it makes sense to start at the beginning.
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