‘CSI: Cyber – The First Season’ DVD Review

The latest ‘CSI’ spin-off, ‘CSI: Cyber,’ comes to DVD alongside the show’s second season premiere. But this is not a set that you’ll miss from either your digital or physical collection.

CSI: Cyber is the latest extension of the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation franchise, and honestly, it doesn’t feel like a CSI series.

First, there’s the concept: cyber crime and computer forensics are definitely things, but they’re not what you think when you think CSI. There’s an expectation that comes with that acronym and it involves a different kind of crime-solving. If this show had been called just Cyber, and not attached itself to the CSI name, it might have fared better. But then, of course, it wouldn’t have had brand recognition.

Beyond that, it unintentionally seems like a series cobbled together from past CBS shows. Patricia Arquette, who plays lead agent Avery Ryan, starred in the network’s Medium (although the show didn’t move to CBS until season six). Peter MacNicol will always be associated with Numb3rs (and has since been replaced by Ted Danson from the original CSI). James Van Der Beek came off the short-lived CBS sitcom Friends with Better Lives.

This feels like someone said, “Hey, we want to keep the CSI name going and we have all these actors who’ve worked for us before, what if we put them together on a new CSI show?”

And unfortunately, nothing in the first season is good enough to escape that long shadow or the usual pitfalls. There’s the team member with the tragic past. The team member with the complicated relationship. The ongoing personal subplot that, naturally, gets resolved in the season finale. You’ve seen these stories and character types before.

CSI: Cyber underwent a revamp in the off-season, including the shift of Danson from the mothership and the departure of MacNicol, so perhaps it will finally develop its own voice in the second season. But this first season just has too much – intended or otherwise – connecting it to other things for it to be able to stand on its own merits.

The DVD Set

CBS has certainly done everything it can to try and get viewers inside the world of CSI: Cyber with this DVD set. They’ve included the episode of CSI that served as the show’s backdoor pilot, a general season one featurette giving all the usual start-up info (“It Can Happen To You: Season 1 of CSI: Cyber“), and little bonus features about the set and all the technological goodies used in the show.

CSI franchise creator Anthony Zuiker, who also is well versed in the cyber world and wrote the e-novel Level 26, even appears to give commentary on the backdoor pilot and episode 109 of Cyber. It’s as if the special features are still trying to sell you on the show, rather than being geared toward the fans who are most likely to be buying this set.

And if you’re not a fan, then skip this one. With big changes coming to Cyber anyway, it may wind up being a very different show from this set, and there’s just nothing here that really screams purchase value. If you really want to give it a try, check out the currently airing second season instead.

CSI: Cyber – The First Season is now available on DVD. 

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