CSI: Grave Danger - The Tarantino Episodes Review

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Tarantino guest stars in one of the biggest crime dramas since Diagnosis Murder.


With all due respect to Five, it’s impossible for UK audiences to gain the necessary perspective on this two-part climax of America’s most popular drama. From our side of the water, it looks like guest director Quentin Tarantino is slumming it, an über-fan messing around behind the camera. In the US, however, where this ‘very special episode’ drew an audience of 30 million, this was QT’s highest profile gig since Pulp Fiction. There is as much calculation as enthusiasm at play here — the last time he guest-directed a TV show, it was ER in 1995, when the medical drama was at the height of its fame. But Grave Danger is more authentically Tarantino, not least because he supplied the gruesome story.

He’s at his impish best when fucking with formula, which makes the procedural police drama a perfect playground. So while the pop culture references are QT-by-the-numbers, there’s also a more fundamental subversion of the standard crime-suspect set-up. Tarantino makes particularly good use of the part one climax, creating a surprising structure that actually investigates the nature of investigation. However, this unusually emotional episode can really only be appreciated as part of the CSI franchise, which makes Grave Danger’s DVD debut — out of sequence, and with only the five-year-old pilot providing context — a bit baffling. Wait for the Season 5 box set.