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Time to turn up the Miami heat

The 'CSI' spinoff, sticking to the formula, loses a little steam as its second season begins.

September 22, 2003|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

The humid half of the "CSI" franchise returns tonight, still following the format with scientific precision but generating less heat than the original.

On the second-season premiere of "CSI: Miami" (10 p.m., CBS), an international playboy becomes the prime suspect when a model is murdered during "Fashion Week" festivities.

After a hit-and-run driver kills the young woman, CSI team leader Lt. Horatio Caine (David Caruso) tracks down the car's owner, who says he loaned the luxury vehicle to several revelers at his celebrity-studded party.

Det. Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter) views clips of the shindig on MTV -- hey, Viacom, nice corporate synergy -- and spots the victim partying with player extraordinaire Clavo Cruz (Gonzalo Menendez). Further evidence leads Horatio to zero in on Clavo, but the CSIs find out that he and his equally cocky brother, Ramon (Yancey Arias), have diplomatic immunity.

When the victim's roommate is also found dead, the team must gather new evidence and maneuver the legal system to bring the killer to justice.

The episode, written by Ann Donahue and directed by Danny Cannon, features cameos by supermodel Heidi Klum and MTV personality Quddus.

It also introduces Sofia Milos, who joins the cast as Det. Yelina Salas, the widow of Horatio's brother.

She and Caruso share an uneasy chemistry, although at this point it's hard to tell whether that is the intent.

Even with her addition, the cast of "CSI: Miami" seems mundane next to the "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" team, and the sameness of the format, even against a different backdrop, increasingly invites "CSI" overload.

By contrast, the "Law & Order" offshoots are carried by compelling stars -- Mariska Hargitay on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," Vincent D'Onofrio on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" -- and benefit from a dash of variety in their formats.

There is no crime in producing an hour of modest entertainment like "CSI: Miami," but neither is there much creativity.

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