On ''CSI'': the death of a Vegas Sherlock Holmes fan shows that truth is stranger -- and goofier -- than detective fiction; the New Yorkers find cool murders all around the town

By Ann Hodgman
Updated January 11, 2005 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: William Petersen: Ron P. Jaffe
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”CSI”: Sherlock Holmes and the multiple victims


Crime ”Drive-by, Miami-style!” says Horatio. What he actually means is Miami Vice-style. A cigarette boat opens fire on a fancy party, killing the mother of a ten-year-old boy — who becomes the leading witness in the case and is thus under threat of death himself. This rerun from last fall isn’t really a Miami Vice rip-off, but anytime CSI: Miami shows cigarette boats whizzing through open water, it’s irresistibly reminiscent of the earlier series. They could have avoided this if they’d set the series in Orlando.

Horatio’s worst use ever of someone’s first name ”Who, Dennis, were you shooting at?” he asks the host of the party, who returned fire at the boat. Who, Horatio, puts names in the middle of a question like that?

Someone please contradict me For once I hope I’m wrong, but it seems to me that all three CSI shows have an unusually high percentage of incredibly thuggish and unpleasant black and Latino male suspects. When’s the last time they’ve featured a ”gangsta” suspect who wasn’t a caricature of salacious awfulness, who didn’t leer at the female CSIs and generally behave in his own worst interest?

Coolest visual detail That gun in the aquarium or whatever it is, being smoked or burned or whatever it is. Coolest audio detail: Dozens of machine-gun bullet casings clink-clinking to the floor of the boat like little metal candy corns.

Coolest corpse The body of the boat’s driver in the shrimp net. Funny, though: Considering how tiny his catch was — mostly just mud and seaweed — you’d think the shrimper would have spotted the body in there.

I rest my case I love to pick on Horatio, and his scenes with the child witness are so ”tender” that I had to watch them with my T-shirt pulled over my eyes. Still, this is a solid episode. The courtroom scenes are maddeningly effective; the suspense actually builds instead of trailing off; the main suspect is certainly hateful even if he’s a caricature; and Calleigh snaps at Eric.


Crimes A lonely Sherlock Holmes impersonator named Dennis Kingsley is found shot in his intricate homemade replica of the famous detective’s study. (He’s a delivery man. How’d he get the money for all this stuff? Well, never mind.) Off on the fringes of the show, Nick and Warrick investigate a car crash that isn’t one bit interesting — though it does allow them to build a cool crash-test dummy out of ballistic gel.

Most improved player Another episode where it makes actual sense for the CSIs to use flashlights! Kingsley’s study, naturally, is lit only by gas lamps and firelight. Since the writers are obviously determined to keep flashlights in the show, at least they’re thinking up better reasons to include them.

Best free association As Sara watches Greg scrape up bits of Kingsley’s pulverized head, she asks, ”Want a pizza?”

Worst line When Brass expresses hardboiled astonishment that the murder vic was a member of a Sherlock Holmes-impersonating club, Grissom reminds him, ”We all have our costumes, Jim.” And mine is a blouson-type jacket to cover my increasing girth, Grissom does not add.

Most halfhearted eBay reference The CSIs discover that Kingsley was trying to sell his Holmes paraphernalia on an online auction site. His meerschaum is offered under the name ”Old English smoking pipe.”

I rest my case Though this has to be one of the doofiest CSI episodes ever — rivaled only by the infamous ”Fur and Loathing” from season 4 — it has a cozy, delectable feel. Fake Brit accents! Crumpets and shag tobacco! Guns hidden in chimneys! It’s like those old Star Treks where the Enterprise crew suddenly ended up at the OK Corral or shaking hands with Mark Twain. You wouldn’t want every episode to be like this one, but it makes a nice change.


Crimes Three crimes in this episode! And each one with a cute matched pair of detectives, like CSI salt and pepper shakers! (Detective Kaile Maka, new to the cast, gets to be Danny’s partner this time.) In Brooklyn a young man who’s covered with olive oil is found electrocuted on the subway tracks; in Queens a construction worker’s head is crushed and stinky; in Manhattan an art dealer has been murdered.

Best detail The frizzled olive-oil man has a stone finger in his pocket. Mac fingerprints it.

Worst line A Mob guy named Paul Gianetti asks Danny, ”You know how long I searched for an art dealer who understood the aesthetic of my soul?” I wish he had added, ”One million years — that’s how long.”

Best proof that CSIs know everything about everything How is it that Danny’s so up on the techniques of art forgery — and that the lab just happens to have every instrument he needs for dating an 18th-century painting?

Biggest coincidence Mac and Stella head to Grand Army Plaza in search of a petty criminal. And look! When they arrive, there he is, sitting on a park bench reading the newspaper!

Best neologism ”Crapsicle.” The construction worker turns out to have been killed by a frozen lump of you-know-what dropped out of an airplane on its way to LaGuardia. I’m beginning to worry, though, that CSI is too fecal-centric. Let’s hope for more pee-pee in 2005.

Coolest bad seed The underage murderer of the Brooklyn victim. You think he’s going to blurt out some innocent confession, and instead he gets one of the most chillingly understated exit lines ever given to a child actor.

I rest my case Word is that the CSI: NY producers have been listening to complaints that the series was too dark — both literally and figuratively. This ep takes place during the daytime, thank God. And it makes excellent use of uniquely New York settings: small, pretentious galleries, the murky subway, Brooklyn neighborhoods filled with lawn statuary, and . . . well, construction sites where crapsicles fall on people’s heads.

What did you think? Was Vegas a refreshing change of pace or a serious misstep? Do you like New York better with the lights on?

CSI: Miami

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