''CSI'': Murdered five-year-olds and rooms of doom
CSI: MIAMI: ''ADDICTION'' (MON., DEC. 13)
The Crime What seems at first to be a routinely terrifying carjacking quickly becomes a routinely stultifying examination of impounded laser printers and inferior-grade window shutters in a company run by the three Coleman brothers: Dorky, Greaser, and Cutie.
Extra sexy Check out the close-ups of all those bank statements and credit-card bills!
Kewl If a person's face slams into a rough surface, the impact produces what is known as a ''cheese-grater effect.''
Oh, shut up Explaining why he hated his murdered sister-in-law (who had been selling her eggs to a fertility clinic), Greaser says, ''She was selling my brother's future children. Coleman children.''
Cosmetic enhancement? Horatio's lips are blue in this episode. Maybe he shouldn't have eaten that pie before they started filming.
I rest my case Oh, well. There have to be boring episodes once in a while, or we'd all die of excitement. Alexx's impassioned show-closing speech about drunk driving, however, is 100 percent perfect.
CSI: ORIGINAL: ''NO HUMANS INVOLVED'' (THURS., DEC. 9)
The Crimes Grissom's team finds the shrunken body of a five-year-old boy who was starved to death and dumped in a plastic bin. Meanwhile, Catherine's team tries to determine whether a prisoner in a holding cell was killed by a fellow inmate or by police brutality. Grim and heavy topics this week, both treated with graphic realism, and you won't get a snide remark out of me about them.
Okay, well, maybe just one little remark The word ''feces'' gets flung around almost as much as the actual feces in the show get flung onto the holding-cell walls. But that's the only flippant thing I'm going to say.
I rest my case This is exactly the way emotional issues should be treated on the CSI shows: by letting us see how the investigators react to their jobs, not by dosing us with meaningless little dollops about their personal lives. Watching Sara and Greg process the murdered child's body in anguished silence their only dialogue an occasional sentence about the evidence is worth a million hours of soapish office politics and smoldering maybe one day we'll hook up looks. Even Captain Brass, who's usually so bossy and Dragnet-ish, looks genuinely stricken. You feel sorry for the actors as well as the characters they play: Doing this episode must have been torture.
CSI: NY: ''BLINK'' (WED., DEC. 8)
The Crime In this rerun of the series premiere, a blond woman lies in a patch of black-eyed Susans as if posing for an Obsession ad except for the bedsores and the fact that she has suffered two mysteriously induced strokes. Turns out a serial killer is sedating pretty girls and performing a sort of Vulcan nerve grip that ''locks'' them inside their own bodies. Two vics die from this procedure before a third woman turns up who can communicate only by blinking.
Oh, shut up When Mac finds the first body, he says, ''Someone out there's missing a wife.'' Wow! This isn't just a murder, it's a wife-i-cide!
Seeing red This episode introduces a detail that will shortly become CSI: NY shtick: Whenever you spot anything red, you should pay extra attention. (But you can ignore Mac's red, red face, which is due to post-9/11 stress and ''character-driven drama.'')
Kewl The house where the third woman is being held is worse than Silence of the Lambs. Of course it makes no sense that a killer with access to the sophisticated medical equipment that is needed to keep his prisoner alive uses a scratchy little turntable to play opera music for her. Still, a turntable is way creepier than a CD player.
Kewler This is the first time we see the Closet of Torture where Mac stores his weird Instruments of Death. Look! He even has a fake skinless head in there.
Why, why, why? ''You're not a doctor, you're a murderer,'' Mac sneers at the killer, whom he then proceeds to address as ''Doctor'' for the rest of the episode.
I rest my case This episode genuinely horrifying and beautifully shot set a standard that has so far been unmet by any subsequent NY episodes. It also introduced one of the major flaws of the series: the attempt to make us care about its characters' personal lives by giving them random snatches of ''revealing'' dialogue. What do the producers think this is Judging Amy? The cases are supposed to be the point on this show, not the CSIs' problems!
Vegas made me ashamed of myself for being such a frivolous loser. Miami continued its in-depth coverage of why CSI work is not as interesting as we used to think a few seasons ago. And isn't it too bad New York can't time-travel back to those glory days of last September? Miami: C+. Vegas: A. New York: B+ (grading on a curve).
What do you think? Was Miami too silly? Was Vegas too sad?