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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — Grave Danger


Whooooo are you? Quentin Tarantino.

Rod Lott February 7th, 2012

In inversion relation to his relationship with film, Quentin Tarantino's track record in television has been less than stellar.

csigravedanger

He's played an Elvis impersonator on an episode of "The Golden Girls," parodied himself on Margaret Cho's "All-American Girl" sitcom, and served as a guest judge on that taste vacuum known as "American Idol."

Under the column marked "mitigating factors," however, was choosing to direct a Very Special Episode of "CSI" in 2005, when the CBS crime series enjoyed its peak of popularity and phenomenon. Heavily hyped as a two-hour season finale for season five, "Grave Danger" earned the still-going show its highest ratings, and  Tarantino an Emmy nomination (he lost to, well, "Lost").

As a regular "CSI" viewer in those days (I quit when star William Petersen did), I enjoyed the hell out of it. Therefore, its debut on a stand-alone Blu-ray/DVD set is most welcome.

For the episode, Tarantino fashioned a properly cinematic plot: Upon examining a pile of intestines anonymously reported in a Vegas parking lot late at night, CSI Nick Stokes (George Eads) is kidnapped for a $1 million ransom. The kick is that the CSI team has 12 hours, and via webcam, Stokes’ co-workers can see he’s been buried alive in a coffin. (Think of The Bride's similar situation in Tarantino’s "Kill Bill: Volume 2" from a year prior, or now Ryan Reynolds’ predicament in "Buried.")

With Tarantino having created the story, his signature touches abound:
• obscure old song (Bob Neuwirth’s “Lucky Too”);
• blood and guts (at least as much as CBS would allow);
• has-been guest appearances (John Saxon, an uncomfortable Frank Gorshin, Tony Curtis and his toupee);
• an obsession with '70s kitsch ("The Dukes of Hazzard" board game);
• references to other movies ("The Graduate," Lucio Fulci's "Zombie," pal Eli Roth's "Cabin Fever”); and
• dialogue rife with pop-culture name drops (Wimpy from "Popeye").

Therefore, if you’re a Tarantino fan, you’ll more than likely to be satisfied by the indie giant’s take on a mainstream-American show. The disc offers a little behind-the-scenes footage (like showing the six boxes that were required for all the angles), but I would’ve loved to hear a commentary from QT himself.

Now if we can get the same treatment for the Rob Zombie-directed episode of "CSI: Miami," I'd be a happy man. OK, happier. —Rod Lott

 
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