The Morning Round-Up (Cop Show Edition): ‘CSI’ & ‘Southland’

Senior Television Writer
02.16.12 18 Comments


Morning Round-Up, part 2, with brief thoughts on last night’s “CSI” and Tuesday night’s “Southland” (which I just watched), coming up just as soon as you squeeze my hand…

Elisabeth Shue, who joined the “CSI” cast last night as new blood expert (or, as D.B. put it, “blood whisperer”) Finn, has had a very up and down career. She parlayed “The Karate Kid” into a good stretch from the late ’80s (“Adventures in Babysitting”) into the early ’90s (Busy Philipps’ favorite movie, “Soapdish”), struggled for a few years, then stunned everybody with her Oscar-nominated performance in “Leaving Las Vegas,” then quickly squandered the career-redefining goodwill of that by playing a scientist who favored knee socks and barrettes in “The Saint,” and then she was at that difficult point in her career where the movie business doesn’t know what to do with women of a certain age.

So now she’s doing TV, and the “CSI” producers wisely introduced her in an episode that let Finn shine without dominating the entire hour. She didn’t come in until we’d spent a good chunk of time on Nick bonding with the man he saved and seen our other regulars work the case, and once Finn turned up she got to interact a lot with both D.B. and Greg. (They didn’t turn her into Poochie, in other words.) I thought Shue and Ted Danson worked very well together, and we’ll see what kind of chemistry she has with the rest of the ensemble in the coming weeks, but not a bad start.

As for “Southland,” I’m not loving how Lydia’s cases the last few weeks have turned into various teaching moments about what she’s in for as a parent. The procedural case that parallels a personal problem is a very familiar trope in drama – and one that John Wells loved an awful lot back on “ER” – and it definitely has value, but I’ve felt beaten over the head by the clue-by-four with these last couple of stories. Contrast that with the story of Cooper (temporarily) saving the gay teenager. Yes, Cooper tries to help the kid out by acknowledging that he’s gay, but ultimately the story’s not about what he has in common with the boy, but about what he tells Tang in that final scene: it’s about what you have to do to yourself and your emotions to survive 20+ years wearing an LAPD uniform. That worked nicely, as did Ben and Sammy’s ongoing prank war.

What did everybody else think?

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