''CSI'': We rate this week's episodes
CSI: NY: ''THE OUTSIDE MAN''
Big crime In a dreadfully realistic and much-too-sad opening, we watch a multiple murder at a restaurant. Please, CBS, don't really give this show a New York edge. I won't be able to bear it.
Little crime By contrast, this is the episode's ''frivolous'' story line. When they find a severed leg that appears drenched in barbecue sauce, Mac and Stella are drawn into the world of auto-amputation, where people just don't feel complete without chopping off one of their body parts.
Don't even bother The principal suspect in the restaurant case has a jail record, and his fingerprints are all over the place. Since in TV terms this proves he couldn't be the murderer, Danny and Stella shouldn't waste our time pursuing him.
Kewl When Mac finds a photo album in the dead amputee's apartment, he opens it to find dozens of photos of amputees. Scrapbooking is a hobby for everyone!
Kewler When Mac finds a severed finger in the dead amputee's freezer, he fingerprints it by rolling it around on the ink pad.
Rating B. I would like to have given this a higher grade, but in the last three minutes before the restaurant crime was solved, CBS abruptly cut to a special broadcast about Yasir Arafat's death. I didn't get to see the specially scheduled rerun on Friday, so I'll forever be forced to accept Arafat as the perp in this case. I sure wasn't prepared for that.
CSI: ORIGINAL: ''FRIVOLITIES''
Big crime It's the McKinley High homecoming dance! 'Shrooms in the toilet and barf on the pillows! As is traditional at Vegas rites of passage, a high school girl is found suffocated in the penthouse suite of a fancy hotel owned by the family of one of the girl's classmates, who, by the way, has been kidnapped.
Little crime Mean, snotty Conrad Ecklie has just been appointed assistant director of the Crime Lab. Now Grissom et al can no longer tell him, ''You're not the boss of me.''
Paradigm shift Incredibly, Sofia Curtis, the new day-shift CSI, changes into a uniform and ties her hair back before digging into the dead girl's vomit. Old-school Catherine continues to leave her hair down and to work with a flashlight instead of switching the lights on. Can a catfight be far behind?
Rare, rare sighting A lawyer for one of the high schoolers. Have you ever noticed how few of the suspects on this show ask for a lawyer before the CSIs start hammering them with questions? You'd think these seen-it-all Vegas kids would know their rights.
Why, why, why? When Sofia finds those mushrooms in the toilet, we look up at her face looking down into the water. Do high-end Vegas suites install cameras in the toilet?
Oh, shut up One of the teenage boys who engineered the kidnapping says of the vic's father: ''He was never there for her like my parents were there for me. They instilled good values in my head.''
Rating A. Not much CSI-ing in this episode a bunch of fibers and some barf analysis, mostly but the genuine twisteroo at the end makes up for it.
CSI: MIAMI ''SPEED KILLS''
Big crime Right outside Dr. No's lair excuse me, make that a bar called the Neuron Lounge a man who'd come for an evening of ''speed dating'' (five-minute conversations with a series of potential partners) is found bludgeoned to death with a tire iron.
Little crime The victim witnessed an attack upon a young man after a Miami Heat game. Is there a link between that attack and the murder? I refuse to joke about this story line, which made me cry twice. Every now and then one of these episodes pierces even my tough hide.
A new CSI pastime Calleigh's blank, dreamy stare and turtlelike blink rate are starting to distract me. Let's pretend she's blind! It should make watching her much more interesting.
Kewlest ever In the process of ''removing the soft tissue,'' Alexx lifts the victim's simmered, severed head out of a huge stockpot. It looks exactly the way a boiled head should look, and head juice streams down through the strainer she's using. Later, while taking an impression of a wound, Wolf spreads the cleaned-up skull with what appears to be chocolate frosting.
Oh, shut up The embittered woman who killed the speed dater says that after pretending to be kind, he had ''showed his true colors.'' Horatio replies, ''Now we've seen yours.'' Does he think up these bon mots in advance?
Rating A. Great CSI software demonstrations, great boiled head, genuinely touching subplot. And very soon I'm going to be marrying Wolfe so hands off, everyone.
What do you think? Do you prefer your CSI episodes realistic or escapist? And should the networks cut away for big news or keep entertaining us?