A role phoned in, but Mi­ami still a pic­ture

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

IT may come as some­thing of a sur­prise to Aus­tralian TV view­ers, but in 2006 CSI: Mi­ami was de­clared the most pop­u­lar show in the world.

The foren­sic drama topped the class in a rep­utable sur­vey of the world’s most pop­u­lar TV shows in a study of rat­ings in 20 coun­tries con­ducted by In­forma Tele­coms and Me­dia, pub­lished that year in Ra­dio Times mag­a­zine.

And, to prove it was no fluke, cre­ator Jerry Bruck­heimer had two more shows in the sur­vey’s top 10: the orig­i­nal CSI , set in Las Ve­gas, and the miss­ing-per­sons drama Without a Trace , star­ring Aus­tralian ac­tor An­thony LaPaglia.

Rat­ings fig­ures for the new 2009 sea­son weren’t avail­able by press time, but to give you an idea of the show’s re­cent per­for­mance here, in the weekly rat­ings sur­vey pub­lished in The Aus­tralian on De­cem­ber 1, 2008 ( for the pre­ced­ing week) CSI: Mi­ami rated a re­spectable 1.153 mil­lion view­ers, putting it in 22nd place in a race won that week by Packed to the Rafters ( 1.824 mil­lion), with even the fi­nale of Aus­tralian Idol scor­ing only sil­ver with 1.6 mil­lion view­ers.

OK, so it’s no longer the cutest, most pop­u­lar kid on the block, but is CSI: Mi­ami still worth watch­ing, or has Bruck­heimer lost his magic touch? On the ev­i­dence of tonight’s pacy episode, I’d have to have a bet each way.

The ideas re­main as fresh as the flesh cru­elly and di­versely turned up in the af­ter­math of the many mur­ders that take place in the drug cap­i­tal of Florida.

And the post­card crime syn­drome, with lots and lots of beau­ti­ful aerial

Drama sta­ple: shots of per­haps the US’s most glam­orous coastal town, fea­tur­ing beach scenes full of glam­orous peo­ple with killer bodies, is still very much in ev­i­dence.

But main man Ho­ra­tio H. Caine ( David Caruso) looks to me to be phon­ing it in.

It can’t be easy to have ground out 20 or so episodes a year since 2002.

Per­haps Caruso was un­well when this was shot, but his gruff speeches and over­played re­sponses have all the depth of a mati­nee vil­lain vis­i­bly crav­ing his next drink.

With re­gard to the man’s looks,

was once the world’s most pop­u­lar TV show and I don’t mean to be un­kind, a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to make-up is needed, and fast, be­fore he winds up looking like a crash test dummy.

It doesn’t help that Caruso is sur­rounded by sexy new cast mem­bers half his age. Still, one mon­key don’t stop no show.

Tonight the case of the one-armed woman taped to the steer­ing wheel of a sub­merged car goes pretty much to for­mula. And the sur­prise turn­around comes at ex­actly the right mo­ment to en­sure an en­ter­tain­ing, if not ex­actly riv­et­ing, hour in front of the box.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

CSI: Mi­ami

Feel­ing a lit­tle old this evening? You’re not alone. Ac­cord­ing to this doc­u­men­tary, by 2050 one in five peo­ple — that’s about two bil­lion souls — will be over 65. Up­lift­ing, eh? Stick around, though, and have a good, long look at the loom­ing so­cial, po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and hu­man im­pact of an age­ing pop­u­la­tion. In part one tonight, the pro­gram in­ves­ti­gates plum­met­ing child­birth rates. In most coun­tries, the fer­til­ity rate has fallen well be­low the re­place­ment rate of 2.1 births per woman. This hugely en­joy­able Amer­i­can ver­sion of plays things a lot weirder than its Bri­tish coun­ter­part. Tonight, for ex­am­ple, our timeshifted pro­tag­o­nist Sam ( Ja­son O’Mara, pic­tured) has a tiny Mars rover run up and down the red sand hills of his skin be­fore it plops neatly down the plug­hole of his ear. Then he tries to watch TV and sees Richard Nixon bleat­ing on about end­ing Amer­ica’s de­pen­dence on oil from the Mid­dle East. Just re­sign al­ready, will ya? I know you’re go­ing to,’’ he tells the screen, just be­fore it flick­ers, then dis­plays Ge­orge Dubya say­ing ex­actly the same thing. Out on the street, Sam sees a woman be­ing roughed up by a lo­cal hood. When he goes to her res­cue, to his and our as­ton­ish­ment, he finds his own, much younger mother. An­other say­onara for this great se­ries. Tonight’s fi­nale fea­tures Brian Wil­son, Martha Wain­wright and Teddy Thomp­son.

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