CSI Miami: Season Two

David Leonard

CSI Miami celebrates wars on terror, drugs, and crime that disproportionately affect communities of color.

Csi Miami

Cast: David Caruso, Emily Procter, Rory Cochrane, Adam Rodriguez, Khandi Alexander
Subtitle: Season Two
Network: CBS
US Release Date: 2005-01-04
Amazon affiliate

Following a wave of public spectacles during the '90s, also known as criminal trials, the aims and abilities of the U.S. legal system were put into question. Popular culture came to the rescue, first with a series of cop shows (NYPD Blue, Law & Order), followed by courtroom dramas (Boston Legal, The Practice), and finally, crime scene dramas. The CSI franchise ostensibly reclaimed the rightness of the justice system with its behind-the-scenes look at the science and technology of crime-solving.

CSI: Miami, which debuted in 2002, chronicles the work of a forensics unit led by former homicide detective Horatio Caine (David Caruso). Whereas the original series features the quick pace of Las Vegas, CSI: Miami emphasizes the tropical surroundings and racial and cultural conflicts of southern Florida. The recently released second season DVD underlines this celebration of forensics. Featurettes and audio commentaries showcase a benevolent police state that not only holds all criminals accountable, but also does so through the brilliance of police officers and the accuracy of cutting-edge technology.

In "Death Grip," an early show during the second season, Duquesne (Emily Proctor) calls in an Amber Alert, which leads to a series of shots taking viewers from inside the cell phone to a look at the freeway sign displaying the alert. The featurette, "CSI Miami: Visually Effective," which focuses on the series' signature "deep-inside" shots, demonstrates the making of this and other shots and emphasizes that they not only educate viewers in crime fighting methodology, but also serve as a bridge between fantasy and real-life crime fighting.

Throughout the audio commentary for "Blood Brothers," the second season's first episode, writer Ann Donahue asserts that she uses textbooks, ranging from physics to criminal justice. In her estimation, CSI Miami is not just a show about half-naked South Beach women or drug cartels, but about crime fighting via science. Whereas other shows sell excitement through sex and violence, CSI: Miami emphasizes evidence. Donahue praises the show's inward ("evidence") shots for educating audiences about crime labs.

"The Trace Lab Tour," the second featurette, takes viewers on a tour of a real-life crime scene laboratory, pairing explanations of particular technologies and devices with shots from the second season. Notwithstanding its use of expensive visual effects, this extra argues that CSI: Miami considers "real" crimes and the means to solve them, from the questions the CSI might ask to the replica technology. Partly promotional, it also reflects the show's salute to wars on terror, drugs, and crime that disproportionately affect communities of color.

Both CSI: Miami and the DVD extras reify such trends, arguing that policing and surveillance are objective examinations of evidence, dismissing concerns about racial profiling, harassment, and outright hoaxing. In her commentary for "Blood Brothers," Donahue suggests that Miami is "at the crossroads of the United States and South America." Following in the tradition of Miami Vice, then, CSI: Miami uses its location to imagine crime through brown bodies, both the Latino drug dealer and gangster. As well, CSI: Miami reflects U.S. fears of immigration as a foreign "invasion." Donahue says the series "gives voice" to widespread frustration over today's immigrants, who "if here, need to play by the rules."

Women appear to be other folks who need to play by rules. When not serving as eye candy, women are victims here, fulfilling a role named in The Color of Rape. Here Sujata Moorti asserts that on television, white men protect white women from criminals (rapists), especially men of color. Television "highlights how social understandings of gender and race are influenced by historical conceptions as well as institutional discourses such as medicine or the nation-state and inscribed onto the female body" (Moorti, 11). CSI: Miami follows in this tradition, as Horatio typically secures justice for women subjected to violence in Miami's "danger zones." Like too many other cop shows, CSI: Miami legitimizes both the war on terror and the prison-industrial complex.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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

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