- Show: CSI: Miami
- Network: CBS
- Seasons: 10, 2002-2012
When CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (also known as CSI: Las Vegas) turned out to be such a hit when it debuted at the start of the new millennium, its producers said, “Hey! Let’s do a whole lot of them! Same thing, just in different cities!” Or perhaps it was the suits at CBS who said it. Anyway, no doubt they got together and decided that the second show should be set somewhere with a lot of violent crime and a lot of good-looking people (primarily women) running around scantily clad. So, they chose Miami, associated (rightly or wrongly) with illegal trade in both drugs and firearms and with lots of good-looking people running around in swimwear. As an added bonus, Miami is a city with a large Caribbean population, thus bringing that demographic into play.
The result was a show that played heavily on stereotypes and featured much more blood and carnage than its predecessor. Unlike its predecessor, which relied heavily on quirky crimes and equally quirky CSI’s solving them, CSI: Miami relied primarily on stories of gang wars waged by opposing drug kingpins who spent most of their time lounging by their swimming pools, surrounded by pneumatically-gifted and surgically-enhanced women in skimpy swimwear, while their footsoldiers went out and wreaked havoc on each other, and often innocent bystanders. Okay, that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the longer the show was on the air, the more one-dimensional it became.
The Miami-Dade CSI’s were led by Lt. Horatio Caine, played by NYPD Blue alum David Caruso. David obviously prepared for the part by watching all of the “Dirty Harry” movies and episodes of (the original) Hawaii Five-O, because the character of Caine came off as a cross between Clint Eastwood and Jack Lord, in other words, a laid-back hard ass.
Just as the original CSI had Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) as a counterpart for Gil Grissom (William Petersen), the original plan was to have Caine have a female counterpart as well. After Sela Ward (who eventually joined the cast of CSI:NY) turned that role down, the job was given to Kim Delaney, another NYPD Blue alum. She was gone after ten episodes, officially because there was “no chemistry” between her character and Caine. Rumor had it, however, that Caruso wanted her out.
Assisting Caine was Calleigh Duquesne, a petite, blonde, blue-eyed, and stunningly beautiful young woman played by the equally petite, blonde, blue-eyed, and stunningly beautiful Emily Procter. Calleigh was originally from New Orleans (although she sounded like she was from North Carolina, as is Ms. Procter) and joined the Miami CSI’s as a ballistics expert. The appeal was obvious: a beautiful blonde Southern girl who liked guns. Calleigh’s father was a down-on-his-luck attorney from New Orleans who drank a lot.
Calleigh had an on-again, off-again relationship with fellow CSI Eric Delko, played by Adam Rodriguez. Delko was a dedicated and responsible CSI who was frequently called on to don a scuba suit and look for evidence underwater. Tim Speedle (played by Rory Cochrane), on the other hand, though he was an excellent CSI, was a bit blasé about maintaining his pistol, which eventually led to his death. He was replaced by Ryan Wolfe (played by Jonathan Togo), who was obsessive-compulsive about maintaining his gun (and just about everything else).
Halfway through the series, a second female CSI, Natalia Boa Vista (played by the quite lovely Eva LaRue), was added to the cast to run around with Calleigh to crime scenes dressed as though they were going to a nightclub, in revealing tops, white pants, and high heels. Lt. Frank Tripp (played by Rex Linn) was a semi-regular member of the cast who was finally added to the permanent cast.
The Miami CSI’s were more likely than their Las Vegas counterparts to get involved in doing actual police work. With Caine in particular, you wondered “is this a CSI or a plainclothes cop?” Many of the relationships in the stories were with Caine, either family members such as Yelina Salas (played by Sofia Milos), who was his sister-in-law, and Julia Winston (played by Elizabeth Berkley from Saved By The Bell), who played a woman he had had an affair with, resulting in a son (played by, of all people, Justin Bieber).
For all of its faults (and I’ve barely scratched the surface here), CSI: Miami was fairly well-received, doing fairly well in the ratings and earning its share of awards, and it continues to be popular in syndication. The stories were generally well thought-out, although the execution was at times heavy-handed.