CSI: New York

No matter the frequent testing of Mac's resolve in CSI: NY, he tends to remain brusque.


Airtime: Wednesdays, 10pm ET
Cast: Gary Sinise, Hill Harper, Melina Kanakaredes, Carmine Giovinazzo, Eddie Cahill, Ed Asner
Subtitle: New YorkYahrzeit
Network: CBS
US release date: 2009-04-29

It's a rare day when Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) doesn't have a pithy quip to assess a grisly situation. True to form, he observes the bloody remains of a man who'd been killed at a high-end auction, he pronounces, "Guess some people are recession-proof." Nicely done, you think. When Hawkes (Hill Harper) delivers a suitable set-up ("The auction house stood to make a killing"), the boss demonstrates just why he's at the top of the one-liner game: "They're not the only ones!"

It's the sort of exchange that commences most episodes of CSI: New York. Tonight, however, Mac undergoes something of a shift in tone, when he comes up against a case that defies glib dismissal. In "Yahrzeit," he is called on to dig into history, and learns not only the sort of overarching lesson that typifies any series' Very Special Episode (the Holocaust was bad), but also discovers something long unknown about his father, Boyd McCanna Taylor, who helped to liberate Buchenwald as a young marine.

Mac has always had a grim streak, of course, introduced in 2004 as he was still reeling from his wife's death in the Towers on 9/11. While his own history as a marine is plain in his set jaw and tough-guy affect, not to mention his occasionally noted hand-to-hand combat skills, he has for the most part in CSI: NY appeared low-key, despite his impatience with the inevitable ambiguities of crime-solving in Manhattan. He believes in right and wrong, in forensic science, and in justice, however it might be achieved.

No matter the frequent testing of Mac's resolve, he tends to remain brusque. This episode leads to something of a crescendo in volume and moral fury, including one of the most egregious of those infamous CSI explications (he actually defines "Nazi Youth" while accusing a suspect of being a former member, the sort of awkward, overstated didactic moment that characterizes the franchise: "A paramilitary organization of the Hitler Party assigned to round up Jews trying to escape the Final Solution!") Still, for much of the running time, Mac keeps his entertaining cool.

The crime Mac and Co. are investigating at episode's start is, typically, not quite what it seems. This has to do with an evolving context of neo-Nazism. Hawkes is the first to set that scene, indirectly, when his uncle's passing gets him thinking out loud for Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) about prejudice in America. The uncle, he recalls, "was in Memphis the day Dr. King was assassinated, he couldn't have been more than 10 years old." The experience shaped him, Hawkes notes, such that his own experience "on the front lines of racism" was founded on stanch self-restraint, not letting the villains win because of his own righteous outbursts or "giving them what they wanted." When they go to question a suspect on the auction murder, he turns out to be Michael Elgers (Matt McTighe), "everybody's favorite skinhead." The guy baits the cops (he questions "Nation of Islam"'s identification papers and suggests he'd like to lynch him), soliciting Danny's undisciplined rage and landing in a room with Mac.

Here Danny and Hawkes get to observe the master at work. Elgers threatens to bring a brutality case, doing his best to get under Mac's righteous white-guy skin: "What the hell happened to this country?" he snipes. "Back in the day, you and I wouldn't been having this conversation." Mac takes aim: "Back in the day, I would have shot your racist ass!" Elgers tries again, suggesting that Mac is "Super white man... Niggers, zipperheads, little queer faggots: you save 'em all." It's strong language for network, even today, and Mac proves his excellence, again, by refusing to be rattled. When the villain takes pride in his own ignorance ("Any beaner can get an education in America, I'm fourth-generation American, that's all the success"), Mac makes clear that he's not even the target here. "Even without the diploma," he hisses, "I bet you can see where this is going." It's not before Elgers has given up an especially intriguing name.

That would be Abraham Klein (Ed Asner), whose convoluted story provides the rest of the episode's plot. While this plot in itself is inelegant in the way the franchise tends to be (that is, the turns are obvious and over-explained), it does offer an opportunity for Sinise and Asner to work through the subtleties of secrecy and revelation. If you ignore the big showdown moment -- when Mac explodes uncharacteristically, in order to underline needlessly the significance of the history -- their conversation is compellingly reserved, even as each man acts out an unnerving moral certainty.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.

20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta

Keep reading... Show less

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

The Force, which details the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts, is best viewed as a complimentary work to prior Black Lives Matter documentaries, such 2017's Whose Streets? and The Blood Is at the Doorstep.

Peter Nicks' documentary The Force examines the Oakland Police Department's recent reform efforts to curb its history of excessive police force and systemic civil rights violations, which have warranted federal government oversight of the Department since 2003. Although it has its imperfections, The Force stands out for its uniquely equitable treatment of law enforcement as a complex organism necessitating difficult incremental changes.

Keep reading... Show less

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.