TV Article

Transsexual Healing

We rate this week's ''CSI'' episodes:  Despite cool pirates in Miami and severed fingers in New York, Vegas's transgender murder is the most engaging tale

William L. Petersen, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation | BRIGHT IDEA Grissom finally switched on a light
Image credit: William Petersen: Ron P. Jaffe
BRIGHT IDEA Grissom finally switched on a light

''CSI'': Pirates, severed fingers, and gender issues

CSI: MIAMI: ''PIRATED'' (MON., NOV. 22)

Big crime Marilyn Manson is found floating dead in the water! Oops, no, it's the decomposed bodies of six fishermen who were tied together and thrown overboard by modern-day pirates.

Little crime Three survivors escape from the ship in a life raft — wait, no, make that two. The leg of the third man in the raft has been bitten off and cannibalized by one of the two survivors.

Isn't it time to retire . . . The quip Horatio always, always makes just before the Who scream, ''Yaaaaaaah!'' in the theme song? Tonight's was especially weak. A Coast Guard official says, ''It's been ten years since a Miami ship got pirated.'' ''Till now,'' says Horatio. ''Yaaaaaaah!'' should have been replaced by a timid throat-clearing.

Kewl Ocular fluid! That's what Alexx needs to get from the cannibalized man's body. She pries open his staring dead eye and jabs in a huge needle, producing a sound like a rotten peach being thrown onto the sidewalk.

Not kewl Once in a while, this show provides a reminder that a CSI's life isn't all needles in eyes and cannibalized legs. In this episode, Eric must telephone dozens of marine-supply stores to find out who sold the pirates ten cases of boat paint.

''I forgot we were in Miami'' None of the CSIs ever wears a hat in all that blazing sun — even when they're out on a boat without a dot of shade. Maybe they're afraid we wouldn't recognize them in hats.

CSI: ORIGINAL: ''CH-CH-CHANGES'' (THURS., NOV. 18)

Big crime Woo-woo! A murdered transgendered woman is found in a car, her throat slashed. ''She's also slashed south of the border,'' says Grissom.

Little crime It was all one story this time, which afforded the writers many more chances than usual to use the word ''vagina.'' They must have been especially proud of working the phrase ''nether stubble'' into the dialogue.

Thank God, thank God Assistant Coroner David Robinson mentions shyly that he's engaged. Now I can stop worrying that he's a deranged loner who will one day kill the entire cast.

Kewl With a click of the mouse, you can erase female features from a face on a screen and see what the subject would look like as a male. Can they do this in reverse? Because I'd like my eyelashes to be longer.

Kewler Catherine finds fingerprints on a toothpaste tube in another victim's — yes! — ''vagina.'' This is how she proves she's a professional. I would just have stood there saying, ''What's this doing here?''

Gotcha The murder victim was a Walter before he became a Wendy. With this homage to composer Walter Carlos, who became Wendy in the late 1960s, the writer proves that s/he liked the score of A Clockwork Orange.

Duh ''Hit the lights!'' says Grissom when they find the victim of a botched transgender surgery lying dead in a storage vault. About damn time, is all I can say. As usual the CSIs have been lumbering along with their flashlights for the sake of drama (and cheap lighting?), when they could perfectly easily switch on the overhead.

CSI: NY: ''RAIN'' (MON., NOV. 15)

Big crime Two masked men turn into Crispy Critters when a fire breaks out in a Chinatown bank vault they're robbing.

Little crime The baby daughter of the bank clerk has been kidnapped. Or wait, is that the big crime? This episode was such a mess that I kept falling asleep, my pen drifting down the page as if I'd been taking notes in a college class.

And the Hokiest Clue Award goes to . . . the jade monkey in the vault! No, wait, the gang symbol printed on the bag of drugs! No, wait, the ransom note with the missing X! Any one of these would make a great Hardy Boys title. (Runner-up title: ''The Fake Snow That Stella Thought Was Diaper Residue.''

Kewl To fingerprint one of the corpses (whose burned hands look like a bunch of hotdogs), Dr. Hawkes cuts off the finger, skins it, turns the skin inside out, and then reverses the image of the print — one of the greatest moments in CSI severed-finger history.

Oh, shut up ''These days, anyone can be a banker,'' Aiden grunts when she learns that the Chinatown bank used to be a shoestore. What is she talking about?

Duh ''Where's Doris?'' pleads the mother of the kidnapped baby. ''Where's my child?'' The subtext must be ''Doris is such an unlikely name for a baby in 2004 that I'd better remind the CSIs who I'm talking about.''

GRADES

Miami induced a strong desire not to be a tourist in Miami unless the city is cleared of pirates and Horatio. Vegas induced realistic urethral chills but wasn't quite lavish enough for a 100th episode. And two-thirds of the New York episode was set in a bank vault, inducing helpless slumber in viewers. Miami: B-. Vegas: B+. New York: D.

How do you grade this week's episodes?

Originally posted Nov 23, 2004
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