sinise.jpgWho knows why I came so late to this juicy forensic party. But I’m definitely in the game now. Was it the intensely focused, true grit face of Gary Sinise that sucked me in? Partly. Was it the collage of digitized blood cells cross-cut with two or three up close and personal autopsies? Yup. It was also the cast (I’m talkin’ the NY version now) of attractively weary cops and coroners who swipe the bodily fluids, chase the slimeballs and celebrate, briefly, over their laptops before hunting the bad guys, ex-wives and drug lord scumbags all over again.

I adore these people – and it’s possible that I love the forensic nerds, dominatrices, and haggard detectives of the CSI Las Vegas branch even more. I even got my mom turned onto Sinise and his angry Boy Scout looks — as she reminded me, “there’s nothing wrong with watching a bunch of cute guys.”

So naturally I was so totally bent out of shape when my resident guy remarked, way too casually, that the show was “just a formula.” Then he went on to point out that the producers seemed intent upon making gender trainwreck types, the religiously tormented and socially-constructed miscreants, appear to be “normal.” To which I countered, nope, it’s more that the show gives us a team of pushed-to-the-limit investigators who aren’t afraid to mix it up with abusers, flawed priests, single mom junkies and serial schizophrenics. In other words, the show offers us forensic heroes, rather than promoting a “Weird Like Me” mentality.

Just a formula? And Star Trek wasn’t? Besides, after a hard day working for the Man, fighting administrative ennui as well as recession pricing at my favorite wine stores, and in general bouncing from one existential email crisis to another, “formula” looks pretty damn good to me.

Another thing about Sinise. He is very Eddie Olmos (as in Battlestar Galactica) without the leather, you know, utterly cool (yet in some sort of deep emotional pain under the surface), and without Richard Dean Anderson’s excessive irony.

Formula? Ha! Reliably intense. Reassuringly gritty, neon-laced, hard-core, brilliantly written, shot and edited. That what it is. Where else can you get such gorgeous morgue shots without the smell of formaldehyde?

I love CSI. (to be continued…)