After helming a thoroughly self-referential episode of E.R. and an occasional acting role in Alias, Quentin Tarantino continued his flirtation with television drama by bringing his full talents to bear on this two-part finale to the fifth season of CSI, the long-running glitzy forensic cop drama that plays like a endoscopic version of Quincy. Employing the buried alive motif from his own Kill Bill, as co-writer and director Tarantino has come up with a 90-minute story that never strays from the series’ ground rules but which is none the less recognisably full of his own obsessions. The pop culture references are there (lab technicians play the Dukes of Hazard board game), as are the familiar riffs on Kubrickian time-shift narrative. In addition there are substantial nods to favourite sub-genres – in this case the Italian ‘Giallo’ thriller, signalled by the presence of John Saxon, who starred in films made by the masters of the style, Dario Argento and Mario Bava.
More significantly, Tarantino also rescues the most under-nourished amongst CSI’s main characters, the easy-going Texan Nick Stokes (George Eads), making him the focus of a diabolically punishing revenge scenario that gives the story an unexpectedly strong emotional arc. Despite occasional longuers and distracting star cameos, Grissom’s plaintive “I want my guys back” at the conclusion caps the story on just the right note.
Disc: The anamorphic transfer is pristine. The sole extras are the opening episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (featuring a beardless and considerably more svelte-looking William Peterson) and it’s first spin-off, CSI: Miami (sadly the excellent cross-over episode which served to introduce the new series is not included).