Originally created 09/22/04

'CSI: NY' is a crime drama suffering the blues



NEW YORK - Now available: A brand-new color in the "CSI" palette!

As everyone knows, the original hit, set in Las Vegas, has a filmic look you might describe as Chrome and Neon. Spinoff "CSI: Miami" is Tropical Tawny.

Now "CSI: NY" (premiering 10 p.m. Wednesday on CBS, WRDW-TV, Channel 12) arrives in its own distinctive shade - Dusky Blue - with a dour mood to match.

While "CSI: NY" resembles its fellow forensics dramas in the sort of crimes it tackles, the need to set this edition apart from the others has resulted in dusky visuals and laconic dialogue that make the show as deadly as its subject matter. There's no flashy Vegas decadence or Sunshine State glow to play the crime against. Just grinding urban despair.

And blue. Lots of blue. On this show, even daytime in Manhattan has a blue tint.

Further weighing things down is a contrived 9/11 angle. Det. Mack Taylor (the distinguished film and stage actor Gary Sinise) still grieves for his wife, killed in the World Trade Center three years ago.

His partner, Det. Stella Bonasera (Melina Kanakaredes, "Providence"), is worried about him.

"Can't sleep?" she asks.

"What's sleep?" he replies.

Since he isn't sleeping, Taylor works around the clock, and the premiere episode provides a troubling case: Some psycho with control issues is trying to put women in a permanent coma state, just to keep them around.

Thanks to Taylor and his crack team, the bad guy is nailed fairly easily - but not before Taylor tells his troubles to a comatose victim. Then, at the end of the hour, he stands outside Ground Zero beneath a dark night sky.

You can't blame CBS for wanting to maximize a hit concept. (What's next? "CSI: Peoria"?) But along with color-coding each "CSI," the producers shouldn't lose sight of the need to entertain its audience.

Suggestion: Lighten up a little on "CSI: NY," and lose some blue.