BookBin2011: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Companion

Are you getting the impression that I’m not really taking this year’s BookBin all that seriously, denizens? I do apologize for that. I have been reading a “real” book from my collection—an anthology that I bought at a charity book sale more than 10 years ago. The problem is that…well, the problem is that I hate the anthology. Whoops. Guess I’ve given away the fate of this one before I’ve even written about it. I do intend to finish it (it’s the principle, dammit!), but I needed to step away. It was too miserable an effort to keep reading it. Thus why I stopped for my last posted read and now this bit of silly fluff.

That’s a bit of a harsh summary of this book, though. True, the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Companion isn’t going to be placed on any college-level reading lists, but that’s not why I wanted this book. I wanted it because, apparently, CSI has become my new Trek.

[Loba Warning: This post is probably definitely going to be me geeking out about my obsession with CSI that in many ways rivals my obsession with Trek. So, really, if you don’t dig either, you might want to just skip this entry. Of course, if you don’t love Trek or geeking out in general, why on earth are you hanging out here in the first place?]

Makes sense if you think about it: Both are easily accessible franchises with multiple levels of tasty geekery, including numerous television iterations, video games, comic books, novels and other nerdy books, trinkets, baubles, fanfiction, fan videos, fan sites…the only thing that could possibly make me even happier about the CSI marketing saturation is if they released character action figures. Because honestly? My desk needs a Sara Sidle action figure.

True, in terms of deeper meanings and social commentary, CSI doesn’t scratch a patch on Trek storylines. However, there is something mesmerizing about all that puzzle solving. I still believe that I have a personality well-suited to being a CSI. Too bad there’s all that math and chemistry. I was lucky I made it through high school chemistry with my eyebrows intact. Damned Bunsen burners…

More than just television shows, though, these are my escape for when reality wears me down and I need respite. The stories are almost always engaging and the characters are comforting. Why? Because I can relate to them. For all their attempts at being cool, Trek and CSI characters are HUGE nerds. Like me. And that makes me think that I’d really enjoy hanging out with them if they were real people…okay, maybe not Deanna. Counselors make me uncomfortable anyway, but one who could read my emotional state? Not cool. And Catherine Willows would probably make me nervous as well. She used to be a stripper…and in a previous life, she was a prostitute who hung out with Dana Delany.

Anyway, I think the CSI characters win the cage match for the title of “nerds” though, what with all their antisocial tendencies or awkward attempts at social interaction…not to mention the universally-true-for-all-the-characters science skillz , obsessive puzzle-solving, and anal-retentive behavior regarding their kits and whatnot. Although, really, the characters from both shows could intermingle so well with each other. The Dancing Doctor and the ex-stripper could work blood splatter analysis together before hitting the clubs after shift…and Wesley and Greg might actually get along swimmingly in the lab…ooh, and Riker and Grissom could compare beard trimmers and Laren and Sara could see who had the worst childhood…

Okay, now I want CSI/TNG crossover fanfic. STAT.

What the hell is the point of this post? Oh, yeah. The book I just read. Like my Trek compendiums (which you can see in this photo of one of my geeky bookshelves), this is an episode guide fleshed out with fun facts, trivia, and general behind-the-scenes awesomeness from the set of the original Vegas CSI (the only version of CSI that I watch regularly). This guide only covers seasons 1–3, but those are some of the best episodes that this series has done.

[Loba Secret: Vegas CSI started to slip into a downward spiral around season 7 and hasn’t really found its way back to its former greatness. Does that stop me from tuning in every week? Hells no. Optimism or masochism—call it what you will, but I’m probably going to watch this damn show until it goes off the air. Even when it’s bad, it’s a bad I know and love. Besides, what am I supposed to watch? Reality television?]

I found myself loving and loathing this episode companion. First, the loathe. I expected something a little more high quality from Pocket Books. Not to say that the layout isn’t gorgeous. It is. Lots of shiny pages filled with colorful photos and groovy graphic layouts. The problem is in the editing…or the infuriating lack thereof. Lots of grammatical and spelling errors, including one that is a particular pet peeve of mine. One is not a real trooper about something. One is a real trouper. This drives me about as bat-shit crazy as people who write “tow the line.” Unfortunately, it’s all through this book and it stuck out each and every time I read it, like a sliver of glass in my retina.

Petty quibble? Of course. Then again, I’m a editer. I’m suppose to knowtice these things.

Also, a little fact checking and “on the same page” checking between the guide’s writers and the show’s writers might have been a great thing. I understand that this book came out early in the life of this show. I also understand (and actually quite liked) that this show was not originally a character-driven piece. It was heavily plot-driven, with character exposition coming in small, natural doses like how it actually happens in real-world work environments. If something was relevant to an episode plot regarding one of the characters, we learned that bit of personal information. Otherwise, we (and they) were all about solving the cases at hand. Therefore, character development was probably not something that they gave a whole lot of thought. Plot first, then characters.

All that being said, I kind of assumed that the creators and writers would have figured out certain things about their characters, in preparation for where cases might lead them and what we might learn next. Apparently, though, that hadn’t happened by the 2004 release of this book. Every single one of the character profiles had something startlingly and hilariously incorrect. Best one though? Sara Sidle apparently was meant to have loving parents, including a hippy feminist mother, who were concerned that their bookish daughter might be missing out on the fun of childhood by being so studious.

o_O

I laughed for about 10 minutes after I read that. Yeah, I’m that nerdy.

Beyond the absence of research and the massive editorial issues, there just seems to be a general lack of care all throughout…a lot of little mistakes, like Dr. Robbins being listed in his profile as “Albert Robbins,” but all of the accompanying identification badge graphics showing his first initial as “P,” that compounded to become quite distracting after a while.

Distracting enough to get rid of this book? Nope. I admit I’d probably feel a lot surlier if I had paid full price for this guide (thank the prophets I’m cheap and love Amazon Marketplace as much as I do). However, $5 for a 300-page guide filled with nerdy minutia, hilariously flawed “facts,” and oodles of pretty pictures from the only television show that I still watch? I think I can deal with all the errors and enjoy the fun stuff.

Final Verdict: It’s going to be a bit of a tight fit, but soon this guide will be nestled on my geeky bookshelf, right next to those sexy Trek companion guides. Now where are my CSI action figures? And my CSI/TNG crossover fanfic?