This spring the long time CBS show CSI spun off a new version called CSI: Cyber. The show revolves around an FBI team that investigates crimes that start or exist on the Internet. While crimes related to the Internet seems like a good idea for a TV show, CSI: Cyber turns out to be a bland and predictable attempt.
Patricia Arquette plays Avery Ryan who is a Cyber Psychologist. Basically a profiler for criminals found on the Internet. She heads up the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI that is charged in “solving illegal activities that start in the mind, live online, and play out in the real world.”
Her team includes James Van Der Beek, as Elijah, who acts as the muscle of the team, Charley Koontz as Daniel Krumitz, Hayley Kiyoko as Raven Ramirez, and Shad Moss (aka rapper Bow Wow) as Brody Nelson, a group of “white hat” hackers helping Ryan. Peter MacNicol plays Simon Sifter, who is Ryan’s boss at the FBI.
According to the back story Avery Ryan was a Psychologist in private practice who had her office files hacked and one of her patients was murdered. She eventually joined the FBI to keep what happened to her from happening to others but also to help her find the person who was responsible for the hack on her.
Ryan also put former bad hackers on her team in an effort to “save” them from a life of crime.
Like the original CSI, the format is a “case-of-the-week” and Ryan’s team tries to solve the crime or more often stopping something bad from happening. The overall myth is finding the murderer who killed Ryan’s patient.
Unlike the mother show, crime scenes on the Internet are hard to show on TV without using some wild CGI. Most of the evidence analysis is done by people moving computer chips from broken electronics to test beds at the FBI to extract the information those chips contain. Some of the solving of the crime is the old school foot work.
Most episodes have a climax with the team racing against time to stop some big event. Of course on this show they do stop the bad guy each time. I know all crime shows do this but the big race on this show seem too big and too obvious.
This isn’t a bad show but I found it mostly bland and predictable. Even when they tried to pull a “twist” in the plot I usually knew it before it happened. Some of the episodes, so far, seem like they pulled their endings out of their asses since it doesn’t make sense or seemed out of left field.
I like the cast for the most part. It is the writing that is the real problem.
Internet crime fighting can be exciting – see the film Untraceable (2008) – but CSI: Cyber tries to apply the CSI story telling structure to something that can’t be seen with a TV camera without some work and a good amount of CGI. I just don’t think it works here.
I’m sure the show will be renewed for another season so I’m sure the show will evolve as all shows do over time. It may be something that eventually I’ll like but for now I’ll pass.