In 2005, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was in its third straight season as the number one series on television. The ratings during the shows fifth season in 2004-05 were the highest in the series history. As such, it seems fitting that long time CSI fan Quentin Tarantino directed that year’s season finale, the two-part “Grave Danger,” which was watched by 35 million viewers.
By the simple flip of a coin, Nick Stokes (George Eads) is assigned to investigate a home that apparently contains bloody remains. His attention is drawn from the innards, a cigarette butt, and tire tracks to a Styrofoam cup lying off to the side, already encased in a police evidence bag. As he begins to investigate, he is suddenly rendered unconscious. Waking up in a box that barely fits his frame, he’s buried alive and left for dead. A tape and a USB drive are delivered to CSI headquarters, which eventually enables his colleagues to see Nick’s fate firsthand; a click of a mouse reveals a live webcam stream of his slow demise. The kidnappers demand $1 million in ransom. With the city of Las Vegas refusing to pay, the team must raise the cash before Nick runs out of air.
Tarantino directs this episode, so it looks pretty much like any other episode of the series. In an effort to keep things ‘natural’ Tarantino agreed to allow others to write the script. The tension is palpable throughout, holding viewers at the edge of their seat until the final, moving moment. Just as you might expect from any Tarantino production, the director builds the suspense as minutes tick by, with a series of unexpected dangers. Most amazingly, Tarantino manages to put viewers right in the box with Nick at various times; perfectly conveying the claustrophobia he must be experiencing.
George Eads gives one of his finest performances to date, dealing with a rollercoaster of emotions as he tries to survive. The rest of the cast, desperate to save their co-worker, also gets time to shine. Gil Grissom (William Petersen), is emotionally invested in fighting for “my guy;” Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) turns to her wealthy father for the ransom, even though she knows it will cost her dearly in the future, and Nick’s best friend Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) is emotionally distraught at his buddy’s situation. Essentially, this episode serves as a great example of just how well the original cast—many who’ve since left the series—worked as a unit. Tony Curtis and Frank Gorshin (who died before the episode aired), make cameo appearances, but they both look rather sickly, and don’t really add anything to the story.
Presented in 1:78.1, this 1080p transfer renders the episode very nicely. Detail is amazing, from clothes to faces. Color is vibrant and rich throughout, with faces maintaining a natural quality. I did notice just a tiny bit of moiré in some of the signature Vegas skylines used between scenes, but that does nothing to damper this otherwise pristine transfer.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix isn’t quite as impressive as the film, but it does a nice job with the material. Dialogue, placed in the center channel, is easily discernible throughout. Bass is the most impressive aspect of the mix, giving things a nice punch. Unfortunately, the surrounds aren’t used as much as one might like, which takes away from the gravity of some scenes.
English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following special features are included:
- CSI: Tarantino Style (1080p, 17:36) Cast and crew discuss working with Tarantino, while the director talks about how he attempted to bring his unique style to the show. We also get a look at how some of the shooting was accomplished, via some raw, on set footage.