CSI stands for Crime Scene Investigator, a real branch of law enforcement of the United States, dedicated to analyzing crime scenes to determine the suspects and victims of crimes.

CSI is also a fictional show on the network CBS, currently the most popular show on the U.S. television airwaves, detailing the lives of several CSI personnel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Unlike most shows, that have a pivotal villain or problem that must perpetually be solved, the only constancy between episodes is the crime, the constant battles with the press, and the chemistry between the characters. The character's roles are ever-changing and the relationships between them also change. For example, Warrick and Nick are good friends and their conversations reflect that, while Sara perpetually ignores Greg's advances. Sara slowly comes out of her mildly agoraphobic shell, interacting more with people, and her reasons for hiding are slowly revealed, episode by episode.

The facts in the show are fairly spot-on, and the technology they use is real. While some of the stories are relatively far-fetched (a scuba driver found in a tree in the middle of the desert, for example), for the most part the murders and crimes are based on actual theories, and sometimes, actual crimes.

The show's storyline also reflects real life rather nicely. While crimes are often solved in a quarter of the time it would take real-life CSI, sometimes murders go unsolved or the murderers get off scotch-free (like two murderers who played the CSI off each other, so the CSI knew that one of them killed a man, but did not know which one). There are occasionally recurring crimes, like murders revolving around a certain unknown serial rapist. The murderers' motives and manipulations are shown, and oftentimes the viewers are made to sympathize with the murderer.

There are usually two crimes solved simultaneously by various members of the CSI, but there are occasionally three, and less oftenly one.

The show is very moody in its cinematography, favoring underexposed hues of blue and green, experimenting in exposure, focus, computer-generated effects, and other niceties of modern camera-work. Quite notable are the flashbacks, where the crime is shown how the CSI imagine it, full of conjecture, and heavy on the blurry, effects-laden picture. The flashbacks are often jerky with dramatic use of light and darkness, and highly contrasting colors. There are also points where a certain organ or part of the body that is zoomed in on the corpse to show various effects of external stimuli on the body, revealed in glorious CG. The action is oftentimes extremely graphic and the show is unafraid to show blood splashes, gore, and to a lesser extent, sex and nudity. This is not a show for everyone.

The music is also noteworthy. It alternates between a composer hired for the show and various obscure artists. The theme song was written by The Who, for example, and the music in the show has featured the likes of Portishead, Zero 7, and Sigur Ros, although Classic Rock and Alternative Rock are not unheard of.

The sound is realistic, with splatters, peels, and all manners of percussive noise. Whenever there is a flashback there is a loud rushing noise, sounding like a choir inhaling. Another cue, spoofed in one of the episodes, plays right before the opening credits roll, a loud bassline. In one of the episodes, the bassline begins playing but Grissom answers his cell phone at the same time, and the music stops, makes a rewinding sound, and the scene continues.

Main Characters

  • Gil Grissom - Essentially the head CSI of Las Vegas, and the mainmost character of the show. Former coroner and specializing in entymology and obscure facts about topics ranging from anatomy to chemistry. Slowly losing his hearing to a genetic disorder, and a classical music afocianado.
  • Jim Brass - A homicide detective, and runs the CSI department. Interrogates suspects, rarely helping out on actual crime scene investigation.
  • Sara Sidle - The attractive materials and element specialist of CSI, she brings a certain emotion to the show, not to mention a chemistry with some of the main characters.
  • Warrick Brown - Considered by many viewers to be the "token black male" of the show, Warrick is the audio/visual analysis specialist and photographer.
  • Nick Stokes - A car lover with a Texan accent, Nick is still relatively geeky, known for quoting encyclopedias and Animal Planet. Specializes in hair and fiber analysis.
  • Catherine Willows - Former exotic dancer in Vegas turned CSI. Specializes in blood spatter analysis and the second main character of the show. She may have a crush on Grissom and vice versa.
  • Al Robbins - The coroner of CSI Las Vegas. Rather monotone and mournful, yet extremely knowledgeable. He has a limp on his right leg.
  • Greg Sanders - Lab technician at CSI, he gives his analyses in riddles and has a different hair cut each episode. He also has a crush on Sara.

CSI has spawned a spin-off show called CSI: Miami, so CSI is now known as CSI: Las Vegas.