The Miami iteration of the CSI franchise just may be the most visually distinctive of the lot. I am pretty sure that anyone surfing channels would identify CSI: Miami in a glance, even if none of the stars are in the shot. And it is purely amazing how high-end production values have become more evenly distributed. An episode entirely shot on location in Rio de Janeiro – imagine that! You actually don’t have to; season 5 includes that episode, and a visual feast it is, too.

A weekly television show used to take second place to the movies as far as that went – but no more. Even if much of CSI: Miami is actually produced in Southern California, the illusion that it all takes place in Miami is seamlessly convincing. Three decades ago, a program like Hawaii-5-0 actually had to set up in Hawaii to maintain the illusion of being anywhere else than the same old locations in Sylmar or the San Fernando Valley. Fittingly, several of the bonus features included (one per disc) focus on the work done behind the scenes to achieve the distinctive Miami “look”.

As a viewer with a congenitally low gross-out threshold, I have sometimes attempted to raise it by eating dinner in front of an episode of one or another of the CSI franchises. Results are mixed; the special effects are sometimes as disturbing as they are ingenious. The special feature on disc 2, on special FX and makeup made casual mention of one effect; a gruesomely bloated body, which was so nauseatingly realistic that it was never repeated. So reassuring to know that there are some limits!

CSI: Miami – Season 5 is available through and other retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a freelance writer who lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her latest book, “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More information is at her website,

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