The CSI: Crime Scene Investigator franchise and subsequent spin-off series have always been a roller coaster of quality. CSI shows reached some amazing heights despite television line-ups being riddled with a multitude of competing procedural shows. New York and Miami held out for 9 and 10 seasons respectively before receiving the axe. Meanwhile, the flagship show is currently enjoying its 15th season and continuing its new found tradition of cycling show headers. The entire CSI lineup is home to atypically lengthy runs, but CSI's newest spin-off Cyber simply does not offer the same hook as its predecessors.
Spoilers ahead, you've been warned.
The series premier lobbed its audience into the world of cyber crimes and the team responsible for solving those crimes. CSI: Cyber boasts Academy Award Winner Patricia Arquette as Avery Ryan, a special agent who is driven by revenge because her secrets were 'stolen at the beginning of the internet' by hackers. Her entourage includes an obligatory 'elite' gamer named Elijah Mundo, played by James Van Der Beek. Charley Koontz, also known as Fat Neil from Community, makes his presence known as a "good guy" hacker responsible for capturing the department's criminal informant played by Shad Moss (Lil' Bow Wow).
The characters represent everything one might expect from a group of writers straight out of 2001, but the amalgamation of this band of clichÃ© crime fighters is not even the show's biggest sin. That award belongs to the horrendous writing and performance. The pilot drops the audience into the world of cyber crimes as the cyber division races to unravel a gang of kidnappers. Straight forward, right? Wrong. These kidnappers are using technology found in baby monitors to keep tabs on the babies they hope to kidnap and perform live baby auctions at the same time.
An extremely convoluted plot begins to unfold, but here are a few of the highlights: James Van Der Beek uses his elite gaming knowledge to bond with a neighborhood child in an effort to obtain valuable information about the kidnappers. Patricia Aquette uses profiling techniques one might expect from a bad episode of Criminal Minds to narrow down the location of the kidnappers location to specific bar. A shooting occurs and one person remains standing up and audibly questions why the other person was being shot. A major issue arises after a successful raid on the gang's warehouse, a password protected computer. Thankfully, Lil Bow Wow rhymes his way to figuring out the password on the first try using clues in the gang leader's tattoos. By the end of the episode, Van Der Beek was pulling the baby from American Sniper out of a submerged car and it was receiving CPR.
The writing is so much worse than what can be found in those highlights. In fact, the writing is so poor that one could legitimately entertain the idea that Avery Ryan's secrets stolen at the 'beginning of the internet' to be little more than compromised AOL, ICQ and Geocities accounts or stolen X-Files Fanfics. My typical stance on a new show is to wait three-to-five full episodes before forming an opinion on a show, but CSI: Cyber is already so spectacularly terrible that it is difficult to fathom the show will hold the same level of success as its predecessors or retain its 10 million viewers from the series premier unless there are some major changes to its current formula.