The Game: It all started when I stumbled over some random blog that pitted the three CSI shows against each other every week to determine who won for the best episode. It was very light-hearted, and only lasted about a month, but I filed away the idea and evaluated the shows myself - doing the 06-07 season as it aired, then retroactively going back to evaluate 05-06. [but not 04-05, since there's still a chunk of NY's first year that I haven't seen]
The rules are simple: eye the three titles, decide which you liked best, and offer a brief snippet of commentary explaining your rationale. You can sit back and read my responses, or you can play for yourself (are there any of you who watch all 3? I suppose you could work with just 2...). You could also probably adapt this game to compare shows that are similar, if not under one umbrella franchise.
Of course, you'll have to rewrite the rules in a copy-and-pastable format because I CANNOT WRITE ISNTRUCTIONS TO SAVE MY LIFE and trying to do so is hampering my enjoyment of posting this. So without further ado,
Note: In the following passages, the original series is referred to as CSI, not "Vegas," since that word does not actually appear in its title proper.
Week 1: Bodies in Motion vs. From the Grave vs. Summer in the City
*is still stunned by the power of Horatio's (Hinted-At) Backstory*
Week 2: Room Service vs. Blood in the Water vs. Grand Murder at Central Station
One fail, two fail, but the title murder + the firing of Aiden, heartbreaking as it was, made this an easy best of the bunch.
Week 3: Bite Me vs. Prey vs. Zoo York
Foreboding-sounding GSR exchanges...thinly disguised Natalee Holloway case...tigers + the breath of fresh air that is Miss Montana? I'll take New York for $300, Alex.
Week 4: Shooting Stars vs. 48 Hours to Life vs. Corporate Warriors
Miami just had its loser of the season, and NY didn't do too badly, but CSI was more compelling what with the alien-obsessed cult. It was about time!
Week 5: Gum Drops vs. Three-Way vs. Dancing With the Fishes
No. There is not even a competition. Even in the rewritten version, "Gum Drops" pwns everything in its path.
Week 6: Secrets & Flies vs. Under Suspicion vs. Youngblood
CSI goes back to suck and takes NY with it, but neither of these things matter because Miami has just skyrocketed back up to premiere standards and forced me to switch my allegiance as far as Franchise Favorite goes.
Week 7: A Bullet Runs Through It vs. Felony Flight vs. Manhattan Manhunt
Hm...the question is: Horatio part 1, or Horatio part 2? I'll take part 2. The man just shines in New York.
Week 8: A Bullet Runs Through It II vs. Nailed vs. Bad Beat
Ryan got SHOT IN THE EYE. WITH A NAIL GUN. Nobody's going to be more interesting than that.
Week 9: Dog Eat Dog vs. Urban Hellraisers vs. City of the Dolls
Um...despite having a cute dog, certain other aspects of CSI were too gross to be redeemed, so it's murdersome video gamers vs. doll hospital. They were both entertaining, if not spectacular. After more than a year of debate, I think NY is the one I'm more likely to watch again.
Week 10: Still Life vs. Shattered vs. Jamalot
Why, hello, Eric's Trainwreck Life! You intrigue me just enough to ignore the other shows this week.
Week 11: Werewolves vs. Payback vs. Trapped
The hell, Miami? You were even worse than CSI this round. You know who wasn't bad? NY. It was brilliant. Maybe if I'd seen Danny trapped when it first aired, I would have hopped on board with spinoff #2 a few months earlier.
Week 12: Daddy's Little Girl vs. The Score vs. Wasted
Dear Miami, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE PREVIOUS REMARKS. Pretty Miss Marisol has just captured my heart.
Week 13: Kiss-Kiss, Bye-Bye vs. Silencer vs. Risk
I don't think the other two shows exist anymore. Horatio and Marisol now officially own my soul.
Week 14: Killer vs. Fade Out vs. Stuck On You
It's a 2-horse race this week, since that episode of CSI looked so boring I didn't even watch it. And without Marisol in sight, I have to hand it to the more entertaining case on NY.
Week 15: Pirates of the Third Reich vs. Skeletons vs. Fare Game
FUCK NO, LADY HEATHER. Anyway, it's a moot point since Miami returned to that backstory place, and stole the trophy without even trying.
Week 16: Up In Smoke vs. Deviant vs. Cool Hunter
Everyone was clearly running out of steam by the end of sweeps, but I'll hand it to Miami for giving Alexx a meaty role.
Week 17: I Like To Watch vs. Collision vs. Necrophilia Americana
It's not that the reality show cameras were bad, exactly, it's just that I am easily enchanted by Mac's encounters with children.
Week 18: The Unusual Suspect vs. Double Jeopardy vs. Live or Let Die
You will not feed me Natalia backstory drivel, Miami! NY gets cookies for referencing Aiden, but CSI wins for having an amazingly spooky little girl.
Week 19: Spellbound vs. Driven vs. Super Men
Marisol's scenes were wonderful, they really were. But the episode as a whole made me want to shoot myself in the head, so CSI can take it for overall quality. I guess.
Week 20: Poppin' Tags vs. Free Fall vs. Run Silent, Run Deep
I am slayed dead, DEAD, by Danny's emotions this week. SO DEAD. Like, I watched the last 10 minutes about a thousand times that week and never stopped being swept away.
Week 21: Rashomama vs. Dead Air vs. All Access
I was already weak from Week 20 when the music montage to "Samson" at the end of All Access this week literally jumped out of the TV, slapped me across the face, and knocked me down a daze at how suddenly brilliant, deep and heartfelt this heretofore fairly flat and blah show had become. And it destroys me that I have to give it the win over Horatio/Marisol's most brilliant episode yet [oh, beautiful "All at Sea" ending montage!], but the cases tipped it.
Week 22: Time of Your Death vs. Open Water vs. Stealing Home
A heavy dip in quality for all involved, but I'm going to ignore the GSR eyesex and let Horatio & Marisol make up for last week's loss, . Besides, the proposal knocked me into a dead faint, despite its awkwardness and my being spoiled about it.
Week 23: Bang Bang vs. Shock vs. Heroes
Aiden's death swept the board.
Week 24: Way to Go vs. Rampage/One of Our Own vs. Charge of this Post
Everyone smashed it through the roof, although CSI did so a bit sluggishly and failed to really kick in until the final minute. But you cannot even begin to touch the emotional power of Miami's 2-parter here.
NY: 10 (tie??)
Week 1: Built to Kill pt. 1 vs. Rio vs. People With Money
Everyone brought their A game, CSI Miami just brought more of it.
Week 2: Built to Kill pt. 2 vs. Going Under vs. Not What It Looks Like
Miami plummeted, CSI held steady, but NY hit it out of the park. A small dog and D/L were involved.
Week 3: Toe Tags vs. Death Pool vs. Love Run Cold
A slump for all involved, but I'm giving it to Miami for Caine's Kid Empathy + the hottest bad guy ever.
Week 4: Fannysmackin' vs. If Looks Could Kill vs. Hung Out to Dry
No competition. An injured Greg on CSI beats out EVERYTHING.
Week 5: Double Cross vs. Death Eminent vs. Oedipus Hex
Well, it sure as hell wasn't Miami. VERY tough draw between Suicide Girls and woman strung up on a cross, but I'm giving it to...to...upon careful reflection, CSI was clearly more haunting, and that stays with you.
Week 6: Burn Out vs. Curse of the Coffin vs. Open and Shut
NY had its first snoozer, and CSI was just okay while Miami dealt with curses and Santeria. I really wanted to give it an automatic fail for using a real goat head, but alas, I cannot. Sigh.
Week 7: Post Mortem vs. High Octane vs. Murder Sings the Blues
Even for a slumpy season, Miami performed poorly. CSI's second mini-models case was good, but NY pulled an easy victory between the Mac/Peyton birthday interaction and his general flying-off-the-handle.
Week 8: Happenstance vs. Darkroom vs. Consequences
Murdered twins, Natalie-centric...these things are up against Claire's son and an extremely Flack-centric and emotional case. You do the math.
Week 9: Living Legend vs. Going, Going, Gone vs. Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael
Neither CSI nor NY made a particularly impressive showing, and Miami performed well for the first 2/3, so Miami it is. THIS SEEMS HIGHLY UNBALANCED, UNIVERSE.
Week 10: Loco Motives vs. Come As You Are vs. Sweet 16
Miami had sheer idiocy, which brings us down to pigeons/Reed/Mac-Flack at odds vs. miniature models/Catherine giggling/the cutest little girl ever. I am in a mood for hilarity during this stressful month of December, so the quirkiness of CSI gets the nod.
Week 11: Leaving Las Vegas vs. Backstabbers vs. Raising Shane
Hell no in Miami. And I admit, Grissom's "I'll miss you" and the hugs and all the goodbyes in general were pretty sweet. BUT, with the Hawkes storyline and Claire talk and Peyton and Angell...heeere, CSI: NY!
Week 12: Sweet Jane vs. Internal Affairs vs. Silent Night
Don't even TRY. New York had this lock-stock-and-barrel, however eerie Sweet Jane was, or Nick's death in Miami of strangely better quality than the rest of the season thus far.
Week 13: Redrum vs. Throwing Heat vs. Obsession
Despite all the animals, NY was a snoozefest. Despite the conspiracy, CSI languished. Despite the Natalia, Frank on a land mine and Eric defending helpless women made Miami FULL OF WIN.
Week 14: Meet Market vs. No Man's Land vs. The Lying Game
CSI was dead in the water, New York fought tooth and nail, but nobody came within a million miles of Miami this week.
Week 15: Law of Gravity vs. Man Down vs. Some Buried Bones
See previous statement, except CSI was a little better and NY a little worse. Miami still gave them a strong trouncing.
Week 16: Monster in a Box vs. Broken Home vs. Heart of Glass
I don't know, I hate them all so much...CSI, I guess, for miniature models.
Week 17: Fallen Idols vs. A Grizzly Murder vs. The Ride In
CSI sucked. Miami sucked. NY sucked, but it sucked moderately less than the other two due to Mac/Stella nuzzling, Flack snark, and an ark full of animals.
Week 18: Empty Eyes vs. Triple Threat vs. Sleight Out of Hand
Miami was dead in the water, but CSI and NY were practically in a fight to the death between the BEST GSR EVER and the BEST D/L EVER. In the end, it came down to casefiles, so CSI emerged the victor.
Week 19: Big Shots vs. Bloodline vs. A Daze of Wine and Roaches
Ana and Supervisor O'Shay, Round II? Boring. CSI? Worse. Danny and Lindsay banter FTW, even if the episode was dumb.
Week 20: Lab Rats vs. Rush vs. What Schemes May Come
Look, I don't care if Peyton got injured and Mac held her hand and Stella kissed his cheek and there were horses to boot. LAB RATS PWN ALL.
Week 21: Ending Happy vs. Just Murdered vs. Past Imperfect
CSI made me laugh and gave me a smidge of GSR, and I was willing to throw everything out the window just for Yelina, but in all honesty, neither can beat Mac angst and angry arguments with Flack.
Week 22: Leapin' Lizards vs. Burned vs. Cold Reveal
Grissom and Sara have a dog. CSI wins on principle.
Week 23: The Good, the Bad, and the Dominatrix vs. Kill Switch vs. ...Comes Around
(Danny + Flack + bar) + (Mac + Peyton + handholds) = WIN. Especially given how much I hate Lady Heather.
Week 24: Living Doll vs. Born to Kill vs. Snow Day
Even with Miami easily out of the picture, I figured it was going to be a tough draw. Um, not so much. NY won by the equivalent of approximately a frillion lengths, seeing as their finale was their Best Episode Ever. Plus they're not threatening to kill off one of their characters over the summer, which is an added bonus.
Miami: 7 (see, it's just wrong that they tie, given how many thousands of times the one above outperformed this one)
This one we have to adjust a bit differently, since the strike resulted in 4 fewer episodes for CSI than the other two. Since I want to fairly compare finales, I'm going to match episodes from the ends and work toward the middle. In other words: episodes 12-15 will only be a contest between the spinoffs.
Week 1: Dead Doll vs. Dangerous Son vs. Can You Hear Me Now?
The spin-offs flopped - sadly, even the one with Yelina - and CSI easily took the victory with a focus on Sara's life-or-death struggle and the panic to find her. A welcome turnaround from the spring's finale.
Week 2: A La Cart vs. Cyber-Lebrity vs. The Deep
Everyone pretty much matched averages this week, but I'll give it up to CSI again for the GSR aspect and the team playdate at the Go Kart races.
Week 3: Go to Hell vs. Inside Out vs. You Only Die Once
Miami isn't worth mentioning, CSI had Ronnie Lake, and NY had super sekrit spy cars and hot Flack lovin'. Guess who wins the trophy this week?
Week 4: The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp vs. Bang Bang, Your Debt vs. Time's Up
You might think that Speedle would be enough to finally cinch a win for Miami. You would be wrong, in the face of GSR MARRIAGE PROPOSAL, WOO-HOO! I'm supposed to consider overall quality in the rankings, but dammit, that scene was worth about 5 million points.
Week 5: The Chick Chop Flick Shop vs. Deep Freeze vs. Down the Rabbit Hole
After that brief, brilliant moment the week before, CSI fell beneath the Epic Hammer of Fail, and Miami's love triangle tricks bowed to NY's shiny computer game. What? I am easily distracted.
Week 6: Who and What vs. Sunblock vs. Boo
While CSI was busy courting Jack Malone (*twitch*), the spinoffs had a rousing good time with Halloween. NY did it much better, though.
Week 7: Goodbye and Good Luck vs. Chain Reaction vs. Commuted Sentences
NY bored me to tears, and Miami half-assedly tried to tempt me one more time with Kyle, but everyone knew from the onset I could not resist Sara Says Goodbye.
Week 8: You Kill Me vs. Permanent Vacation vs. Buzzkill
And just when you think CSI will fail from here to eternity, it pulls off a brilliantly handled follow-up to Sara Says Goodbye that would have won even if the spinoffs hadn't been busy matching each other step for step with boredom.
Week 9: Cockroaches vs. Stand Your Ground vs. One Wedding and a Funeral
I'd like to keep the streak going just for Warrick drama, except it was fairly terrible. And NY was kind of dull, despite the 333 puzzles. And Calleigh scorched up her scenes in Miami, so Miami it is.
Week 10: Lying Down with Dogs vs. CSI: My Nanny vs. The Thing About Heroes
Tee-hee, for a minute there I thought that Mac's heroism and the 333 case might have to struggle against continued Warrick angst and the issue of dogfighting. I was mistaken. NY for the win!
Week 11: Bull vs. Guerillas in the Mist vs. Child's Play
I enjoyed the rodeo and Grissom's love of cowboy poetry even more than the guns that will VAPORIZE YOU, but NY is on, like, a whole different planet of incomprehensible amazingness - half hilarious and half utterly gutting and heartwrenching. Win, win, a thousand times win!
--Week 12: Miami Confidential vs. Happily Never After
Hm, let me think, Natalia-centric? Or a Lindsay with a small dog + a variety of children's book allusions? I JUST DON'T KNOW. /sarcasm.
--Week 13: Raising Caine vs. All in the Family
Two words: FLACK/ANGELL FLIRTING. Also: Flack-Lindsay, Lindsay-Mac, and Flack-Danny interactions, parrots, Angell in general, Danny throwing punches, GENERAL THINGS MADE OF WIN were going on in New York in a nonstop snowball. I mean, how is Elizabeth Berkley supposed to even try and compete with that?
--Week 14: You May Now Kill the Bride vs. Playing With Matches
Can I declare this week null and void? Because both of these were really awful. I had more to say about Miami, though, so...I guess it wins?
--Week 15: Ambush vs. DOA for a Day
Or, IN WHICH CSI: MIAMI IS RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING FOR THE FIRST TIME ALL SEASON.
Week 16: Grissom's Divine Comedy vs. All In vs. Right Next Door
Danny does unspeakable things which I am forced to witness, rendering NY invalid for this week's competition. Meanwhile, Miami performs a faceplant. Thank goodness CSI had sick Grissom + his dog to placate me.
Week 17: A Thousand Days on Earth vs. To Kill a Predator vs. Like Water for Murder
There is a lot of unpleasantness in the spinoffs this week. CSI at least has the decency to channel its unpleasantness into making a heartwrenching victim and intense case.
Week 18: Drops Out vs. Tunnel Vision vs. Admissions
CSI takes an abrupt nosedive from which it may never recover, and yet is still better than what the spinoffs have to offer.
Week 19: The Theory of Everything vs. Rock and a Hard Place vs. Personal Foul
What can I say - despite the grab bag o' fun on CSI, I am a sucker for Alexx Says Goodbye.
Week 20: Two and a Half Deaths vs. Down to the Wire vs. Taxi
I render CSI ineligible due to my all-consuming disgust with Two and a Half Men. Which makes it very easy to hand the win off to the Taxi Killer and Reed's tears on NY.
Week 21: For Gedda vs. Going Ballistic vs. Hostage
Having almost literally slept through NY, which was the polar opposite of last year's finale (assuming the two poles were on OPPOSITE ENDS OF THE UNIVERSE), it was down to Warrick drama or Horatio drama, which are pretty much comparable to sugar and fiber: the latter was far more exciting at first, but the novelty wore off quickly - the former's got staying power. And staying power wins trophies.
[There, that's better. I love that CSI wins even with significantly fewer episodes total.]
In an unrelated note, finished "The Runaway Bride" and am now bouncing off walls with enthusiasm and brimming over with adoration for Donna.