Spring 2015 Review: CSI: Cyber

30 Mar

CSI: Cyber

Police must love cop shows. Nothing glamorizes the institution more than detectives and officers fighting the good fight, always cracking the case, and locking the bad guys up for good. While this applies to almost every cop show on TV (there are of course exceptions, like The Shield), no show makes cops look better than editions of CSI. There are none of the classic cop struggles here. No alcoholics or cops who struggle balancing the family and work lives or copious amounts of red tape or cops negatively affected by prior cases. There are just ultra, ultra-competent cops who can do everything, from computers, to hand-to-hand combat, to interrogations, and do it impressively, staying well within the law all the time (no questionable go-too-far tactics here) and always in time to save the day.

CSIs are also a little silly by cop show standards, played completely straight within the shows, but in a way that makes me think the creators don’t take them all too seriously. Partly because of this, as much as they’ve been the butts of jokes over the years, I have a hard time actually hating them. They’re just so ludicrous. CSI: Cyber stars the FBI’s Cyber division, responsible for investigating any cyber crimes (which seem to be anything which involves programming or electronics, or, well, it’s hard to tell). The team is made up of Avery (Patricia Arquette), the leader, a behavioral psychologist, Elijah (James Van Der Beek), her second in command, a military type, Daniel, a super elite hacker, Raven, a woman who doesn’t do anything in the first episode so I don’t really know what her deal is, and Brody, a new one-time criminal hacker on a Mod Squad type program to either help the FBI and become one of them, or rot in prison. 

The case in the pilot is a series of baby abductions, which leads to the discovery that an organized crime ring has been orchestrating these kidnappings and auctioning off babies. The Cyber connection is that the criminals chose and cased the babies through a software weakness in baby security cameras owned by the victims’ parents.

Arquette and Van Der Beek are everywhere during the episode, and doing everywhere. They take over from local cops, work the home, convince a reluctant kid to give evidence, find the first lead in a warehouse, arrest a couple of lackeys who were then assassinated, shoot their assassin who was getting away on a motorcycle, and raid the warehouse where the real bad guys were at. Van Der Beek even literally saves a drowning baby towards the end of the episode, and Arquette performs CPR to bring the baby back to life.

There’s lots of silly cyber stuff, though to be honest less than I’d hoped. The Cyber division office contains a ludicrous amount of screens, kind of like one of those CNN Electoral War rooms. The show presents us with a few two-color black-and-green cyber-reconstructions of very computer-related events and the hackers talk a little bit of code (uberhacker Daniel berates a baby cam company IT guy for problems with their programming), but there’s far less technobabble than I was hoping for.

Calling CSI: Cyber a bad show is not so much right or wrong as it is beyond the point. It’s a very silly show. It’s professionally done, as CSI’s are. You get a case, it gets cracked little by little, until it’s all wrapped up at the end of the episode, and everyone goes to get a beer except for our fearless leader, Arquette, who goes off to think. And yes, before I forget, it turns out that Arquette got into this business because her professional records as a psychologist were hacked, leading to a patient’s murder, and yes, she still hasn’t yet found the hacker, but rest assured, should the show continue she will. CSI’s full of crime procedural cliché catnip like that.

Anyone familiar with CSI, and that should be, at this point, just about anyone familiar with television, knows exactly what this is. There are no surprises. If you’re the type of person who likes CSIs, you might like it, and you might not, and if you’re not, then there’s really no point watching, and there’s really no way you’re considering watching it anyway. There’s nothing to see here.

Will I watch it again? No. There’s no need to. I don’t mind watching these pilots so much, and they’re over-the-top which in doses is entertaining rather than bothersome, exceptionally compared to some of the worst pilots which can really be a slog to get through. Still, there’s no reason I ever need to see another episode.

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