There's just not enough cyber in the latest CSI series, leaving it as a routine procedural.
In reality, CSI Cyber falls back on traditional TV storytelling with dead-ends, red herrings, car chases, guns, forensics and DNA. For all the technology at the fingertips, the latest in the Jerry Bruckheimer franchise couldn’t bring itself to contain its story to computer screens and keyboards -that would hardly be fun for 22 episodes.
Leading the way is Washington DC’s Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette) who tells her FBI Boss Simon Sifter (Peter MacNicol) that a baby kidnapping in Baltimore is more than a missing persons case, it’s a cybercrime because baby monitors have been hacked. Together with Elijah Mundo (James Van Der Beek) and team, they hunt for clues at a family home. “Treat equipment like a dead body,” she instructs. “Don’t touch it, don’t move it.”
Amongst the team are bad boy hacker Brody (Shad Moss) who’s been assigned to “hack for good and prove my worth,” the geeky Daniel (Charley Koontz) who knows his stuff but kinda looks like Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles and the alternative Raven (Hayley Kiyoko), just to demonstrate girls can be geeks too….
Avery is suitably firm but sensitive with her victims. “I know what its like to be violated, vulnerable,” because she has a backstory which will become a series arc later. “I’m here to get your son back.”
I’ll bet she’s wishing she could channel Medium‘s Allison DuBois to solve the crime faster than broadband. Dawson from Dawson’s Creek will have to suffice, as they uncover clues and follow a trail of baby-snatchers with the usual mix of procedural jigsaw-solving. Whilst pursuing fairly conventional crime-busting, the ‘cyber’ of CSI Cyber is left largely to the geeky support team, who are kind of an expanded version of NCIS‘ Abby or Criminal Minds‘ Penelope.
Retaining the CSI brand, forensics and DNA are still a big part of this series, although the corpses are whiz-bang holograms instead of bodies on slabs. On trennnnd….
It should also be noted that phones are a great tool on the job, such as sending fingerprint photos back to the lab for identification. I guess technology ain’t all bad?
The dialogue is very big print, including telling us what we are seeing “The security wires have been cut.” Or even cliched, “There is a bad guy out there.” No, really?
Patricia Arquette is given none of the range Medium contrasted between family domestics and crime-fighting. Peter MacNicol has nothing of any substance to work with (and has since been replaced by Ted Danson for Season 2).
For all the killer opportunities that a Cyber CSI could have explored (as demonstrated so well recently in Cyberbully), it has taken the safe path of cops unlocked from their keyboards and out on the road. In this regard it’s not yet different enough from other procedurals such as Without a Trace et al.
I suppose there are those who will learn what a scary world it is with criminals being able to get into your computer and home. But Google can tell you that in a fraction of the time.
CSI Cyber premieres 9pm Sunday on TEN.