Rerun Junkie Characters–Calleigh Duquense

When I watched CSI: Miami first run, I liked Calleigh Duquense, but it wasn’t until I watched the series again more recently that I really came to appreciate her. She’s a fascinating character played exquisitely by Emily Proctor and her evolution across 10 seasons of the show is equally interesting.

Calleigh Duquense is a CSI with a ballistics specialty which is a gilded invitation to a “strong woman” stereotype. A woman with the nickname “Bullet Girl” would be expected to be something of a tomboy, someone who’s stern and unemotionally tough, who eschews the “girly” things and wears a lot of denim and camo. Instead, we’re treated to a different kind of “strong woman”, one who’s bubbly and sunny and embraces the feminine and isn’t afraid to show emotions, but at the same time has excellent control over them. She’s tough without question, but she’s not what I’d call hard.

She shows up in the first episode of the series with braided pigtails and a sunny determination in the middle of a plane crash. It’s a beautiful introduction to the character. At one point in the second season, Speed says that Calleigh is entirely too cheerful. And he’s not wrong. “Cheerful” is a different direction when it comes to characters on cop dramas. They might be funny, but that humor is typically used to mask some sort of past trauma or toll the job takes on them. Everybody has a past and many times on shows like this, the characters end up leaning into the melancholy of it in order to give them depth. Calleigh doesn’t do that. She doesn’t have to.

This isn’t to say that she’s had a painless life and that she’s immune to trauma. She actually endures quite a bit during the show’s ten season run. And that does take its toll.

Calleigh is arguably at her sunshine most in the first couple of seasons, but even then she was dealing with her alcoholic father. Kenwall “Duke” Duquense isn’t a rough drunk. He doesn’t get violent. He’s not abusive. He’s usually a happy drunk, but he can be a morose one, too. Either way, taking care of him falls on Calleigh. She’s the one who scoops him up from the bar and delivers him home safe. Most of the time. A drunk driving incident leaves her dad looking at a murder charge, but he’s eventually cleared. As relieved as Calleigh is, she also takes his keys. She can’t stop him from drinking -she’s been supportive of every trip he’s made on the wagon and wants nothing more for him to stay there, but he’s a grown man who has to make his own choices- so she stops him from driving. There’s no question that she loves her father, but the man is also a challenge. It’s a great storyline that shows a different side of our tough sunshine girl.

Some of Calleigh’s bubbly personality begins to recede in the third season, and it’s understandable. First Speed, her friend and colleague, dies in a shootout, a fear realized as she’d warned him to keep his gun clean. Then her father’s DUI incident. And then her former boyfriend John Hagen ends a difficult period in his life by shooting himself in front of her in the ballistics lab. The lingering impact of that final blow drives her out of ballistics and away from her identity as bullet girl. At least for a little while. She eventually finds that you can go home again, in a sense.

Over the rest of the series, we watch as Calleigh’s accumulated experience -including two close brushes with death- matures her in the sense that her sunshine dims a little bit. It doesn’t go away entirely. She still smiles and she still makes jokes, but not as much as she used to (her teasing Walter with an eyeball hits me almost as a glimpse of the old Calleigh in a way). She becomes much more serious over time. Even her wardrobe reflects the change. She goes from wearing brighter colors to a more muted palette. The later seasons almost make me sad given how much black she wears (I acknowledge that Emily Proctor was pregnant during Season 9 so the black was more strategic then). It makes me long for the vibrant Calleigh of the early seasons.

Despite this apparent dissipation in effervescence, her experiences do sharpen certain aspects of her character. Not one given to pettiness to begin with, she outpaces almost everyone except Horatio when it comes to reason and emotional control, particularly in regards to her coworkers. She rarely flies off the handle with any of them and when she does get angry with them, you totally understand it. And even then, she’s not one for dramatics or cheap shots. It might be heated, but it’s direct. She leaves no room for misinterpretation.

Her ability to remain in control when dealing with difficult coworkers, suspects, witnesses, and situations sets her apart from the rest. While Eric and Ryan are still pouting over the revelation that Natalia was the lab mole for the FBI and is now working as a CSI, Calleigh has already reconciled that betrayal and is ready to move on. When Ryan whines about going out on a case with Natalia, Calleigh lands on Natalia’s side, giving her a vote of confidence. And when Natalia makes a mistake on a case, Calleigh helps her fix it. She gives her the consideration that the pouty boys wouldn’t until they were forced. Calleigh lives in the present.

Another episode that illustrates this skill is when Calleigh is being investigated for an off-duty shooting in which it appears her actions lead to a woman’s death. She’s distraught by this, visibly upset as she talks with Eric in the ambulance after the fact. But it’s a different story when she’s dealing with Stetler and internal affairs. She takes his insinuations that she was inebriated during the incident and basically rams it down his throat; she can’t tell him what the remaining suspect looks like, but she can describe in detail the gun he stuck in her face. She’s pissed, but she doesn’t lose it.

She also doesn’t lose it when she’s taken hostage buy a couple of shitheads who want her to help them cover up a murder. Calleigh keeps her cool, does what she can to acquiesce to their demands in order to stay alive, while also leaving a trail for her fellow CSIs to find. Her faith in her team is unshakeable and so is she. Calleigh might be effected by the whole experience, but she doesn’t fall apart, at least not until she knows it’s safe. And even then, she doesn’t so much fall apart as she relaxes and allows herself to breathe a shaky sigh of relief.

It would be easy in light of these trials and traumas for Calleigh to lose her empathy and caring nature, but she doesn’t. She still has a way of connecting with victims and witnesses, sympathizing with them and supporting them through a terrible moment in their lives. And of course she has this softness for her friends and coworkers as well in big and little ways. It never fails to hit the mushiest part of me when a gazebo comes down on Dr. Tara Price’s head and Calleigh calls her “babe” while tending to her. It’s not a shipper thing, it’s just sweet. Calleigh it just sweet tea sweet with the people she cares about.

It’s part and parcel with her loyalty to them. She’s ride or die with Horatio and will come to the defense of every single one of her team members. Like with her father, Calleigh wants to be as supportive as possible of them. Even when they kinda don’t deserve it. Or you could understand if she didn’t. Let’s face it, nearly everyone she’s worked with and cared about have lied to her big time. It would be easy to hold that grudge, but she doesn’t. They may have to earn her trust again, but she forgives them. And she doesn’t give up on them. Like I said, Calleigh lives in the present.

Calleigh has her share of romantic relationships (none of those men are good enough for her, though, not even Eric; I will not be moved on this), and while you get the sense she’d like a happily ever after, it’s not a defining aspect of her life. Neither is having children. She’s at no point reduced to a walking biological clock. What’s interesting is that when Calleigh does show interest in having kids, it’s a specific brother and sister she encounters on a case. She doesn’t just want to have a baby or adopt a child; Calleigh wants those two specific children. She’s bonded with them (particularly the older boy) and she’s willing to alter her life for them. And does, successfully adopting them in what would be the final episode of the series. It would have been intriguing to watch how she coped as a working single mom of two, how that would have changed her character.

I have a feeling that it only would have made Calleigh better.

She’s already pretty great.

Rerun Junkie Confession–Gimme That Found Family Vibe

I’ve written before about how Gilligan’s Island was the first rerun that really made an impression on me, something that I totally fell in love with even though I was so young. It is most likely responsible for my love of reruns today.

It’s also one of the earliest indications that shows with a found family vibe were going to be in my wheelhouse.

Maybe it’s my own strong desire to belong somewhere, but those shows that feature a group of people coming together to form a family get me on a soul level.

Look at Gilligan’s Island. Seven people thrown together in an unlikely and extreme situation, forced to survive. Okay, that’s a dramatic explanation for a sitcom, but it’s not wrong. They have to come together as a family to survive. Sure, they bicker and quarrel and many times want to drown Gilligan after one of his fuck ups, but ultimately, they care about each other. This never would have happened if they hadn’t gotten shipwrecked. They’d have completed their 3 hour tour (with an unnecessary amount of luggage) and then gone their separate ways. Fate (and Sherwood Schwartz) threw them together and gave them a bond that even being rescued couldn’t break.

But it’s not just that extreme found family vibe I’m looking for. Chosen family is a kind of found family and that works for me, too.

Take for example another early love of mine, The Monkees. It’s a show about a band trying to make it. Obviously, these four guys came together to form a band, so they must have at least known and liked each other before they moved into a beach house together. It’s less fate and more struggling dream that has them scraping together rent and playing gigs. But they’re no different than four brothers, squabbling on occasion, but always having each other’s back. Just look at the episode “Success Story”. Davy’s grandfather is going to take him back to England and the fellas do everything they can to keep him in America. After all, they may not be blood, but they love each other like they were.

It’s this found family/chosen family vibe that could account for my love (at least in part) of cop shows. Be it partners, a team, or a whole squad room, you end up with people who come for the job and stay for the family.

Barney Miller is a great example of this. There’s a squad room of detectives who are paid to be there, but the nature of the job means that they have to have each other’s backs. It’s inevitable that this would eventually extend into their personal lives to an extent. When the final episode sees the precinct closed and everyone split up, you still get the sense that even if they aren’t working together, and maybe if they never see each other again, they all hold a very special place in each other’s lives. The way blood bonds family, they’re bonded by experience.

CSI: Miami not only has a similar vibe, but even has Ryan saying that they’re his family in the final episode.

Starsky & Hutch are akin to blood brothers given how many times one has been near death and the other has bailed him out. Adam-12 has a similar feel even though most of the series focused on the mundane aspects of the job. When you’re riding in a car with a guy for 8-12 hours a day, there’s only a couple of ways your relationship is going to go.

Emergency!, The A-Team, The Golden Girls, Stargate: Atlantis, F-Troop, Magnum PI…the one thing they have in common is that they all have a found family/chosen family vibe.

And I simply cannot get enough of it.

TV Bosses I’d Work For

Have you ever watched a TV show and thought to yourself, “Man, I wish they were my boss”? Well, I have. So I put together a short list (in no particular order) of the TV bosses that I’d work for.

Barney Miller (Barney Miller)- I feel like this is probably an obvious choice for someone enamored with police shows. Not only did Barney have a more reasonable approach to lawbreakers, he also had an excessive amount of patience when it came to the people in his squad room. He’d finally get to his breaking point, but it took some persistent aggravation. Given that I can be aggravating, it’s good to know I’d probably never get to that point with him, thanks to Wojo and Levitt beating me to it.

Steve McGarrett (Hawaii Five-O)- A no-brainer if you know me, Steve McGarrett is in many ways the ideal. He’ll mentor you, correct you, joke with you, go to bat for you, but he won’t tolerate any bullshit. You gotta put in your effort. I love a boss who has your back, and Steve definitely has the backs of Five-O.

Horatio Caine (CSI:Miami)- Much like Steve McGarrett (as I’ve written about), I dare say that Horatio would go even further for you, particularly in the later seasons when he was decidedly less attached to the rules. He’d do everything possible to turn you into the best CSI he could, but he’d only help you if you were willing to accept it. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way. Right, Ryan? I have no doubt Horatio would kill for you, though, and I really appreciate that kind of dedication.

Miss Kitty (Gunsmoke)- Leaving aside the not-explicity-said-but-definitely-understood nature of the work some of the Long Branch employees were doing, I have no doubt that Miss Kitty looked after all of them. From bartenders to saloon girls, she wasn’t a successful businesswoman because she let the clientele walk all over her and abuse her staff. She’s the fuck around and find out boss.

The Middleman (The Middleman)- All of the patience of Barney Miller, the mentoring of Steve McGarrett and Horatio Caine, and the protective nature of Miss Kitty, with a healthy dose of optimism and clean language. He makes ridding the world of comic book foes less of a chore and more of a good day at the office.

Sgt. Getraer (CHiPs)- As far as bosses with a sense of humor go, Gertaer is up there. Think about it. He had to deal with Ponch’s bullshit all the time. If he didn’t learn to laugh, his blood pressure would have been through the roof. He also has the ability to roll with the punches, which is a pretty good quality to have. Probably the only boss on this list that would go country-western dancing, roller skating, and participate in some questionable athletic shenanigans for charity.

Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Stargate: Atlantis)- If I’m in another galaxy with the prospect of never returning to Earth and our best chance of survival is making new friends, I’m going with Elizabeth. She kept things under control, put people in their place (I’m looking at you Shepherd), and didn’t take any shit from anybody -Wraith, Genii, or Replicator. She had things under control even when they were out of control and honestly, I wish she would have been in charge every Black Friday.

Colonel Sam Carter (Stargate: Atlantis)- Everything you got with Elizabeth, but with the added bonus of a military background, a different science expertise, and some “I have seen some shit” experience. She was also perfectly cool with blowing shit up and I need that in a boss.

Richard Woolsey (Stargate: Atlantis)- If you’ve seen the show, I know what you’re thinking, but let’s be real. Once he got broken in, Woolsey made for a pretty good boss. As a bureaucrat, he brought an element of sneakiness to his dealings with with others in the Pegasus Galaxy and was a pretty crafty negotiator. He also quickly figured out it was best to leave the science to the scientists and the defense to the military. A boss who knows when to let the workers do their thing and when to rein them in is valuable.

Is it cheating to have three bosses from the same show? Maybe. Did I exclude some excellent bosses from this list? Probably.

But this is my list.

Go make your own.

Make It Fashion

It’s no secret that one of the things that caught my interest when I started watching Hawaii Five-O was the fashion. Sure, our team is typically dressed in conservative suits, but their personal and undercover fits are a sight to behold. Not to mention that you’re dealing with an island vacation spot in the late ’60s and throughout the ’70s. So many bright colors, bold patterns, and a broad assortment of people wearing them.

It’s a glorious time capsule.

In fact, it covers the end of one decade, the entirety of the next decade, and the very beginning of a third decade, which shows off the evolution of fashion during that particular time period. In that time span, dresses are going from short shifts to waist-defined and below the knees; the skirts go from minis to maxis; bell bottoms grow and waist-lines lower; even the suits change, with the widths of lapels and ties changing.

Not only that, this is Hawai’i fashion. In addition to what you might find on TV at the time, the standard styles and the styles indicative of certain groups like hippies, you also got island fashion, both residential and vacation. Yes, there are a lot of Aloha shirts and matching Aloha outfits and other threads common to vacationers and required of those working in the tourist trade. And the colors and patterns are glorious. But there’s also what the average, everyday people wear while working in the markets or on boats or doing their shopping. And there are muumuus. So many glorious muumuus.

That’s what’s so great about Rerun Fashion: it tells us so much.

Iris Apfel once talked about fashion as being a sort of record for history. You can tell what was going on in the world at the time by what people wore.

I feel that way about TV fashion as well (however I’m not nearly as cool or as well-dressed as Iris Apfel). We’re not only getting a glimpse into the fashion and styles of the time, which provides its own little insight into what the world was like, but we’re also getting that all filtered through the characters that are wearing it.

Obviously, Steve McGarrett is my favorite example of this.

While the Five-O team wore their conservative suits at work, they’re off-duty attire was much more relaxed for the most part, polos and Aloha shirts. And then there was Steve. Conservative, by-the-book Steve had an affinity for ascots, whites suits, pops of color, and some pretty fab hats. You never would have thought it from a man like him, but he was a bit of a fashionista. While some hard-nosed cops have a softer side off-duty, Steve McGarrett had a stylish side.

There’s something especially fab about characters you’re used to seeing in uniform in their street clothes. When the guys at Station 51 on Emergency! change into their street gear, you not only get a glimpse into their off-duty personalities, you also get a glimpse into their off-duty personalities as filtered through the ’70s. That’s why Johnny Gage is sporting these patchwork jeans. Of which I had a similar pair in high school in the ’90s when some ’70s styles had a resurgence.

I would wear them again today, no hesitation.

Speaking of out of uniform, given how infrequently everyone on Stargate Atlantis gets to don street clothes, it feels particularly monumental when they show up in those duds of the aughts.

If you want to look for character definition through wardrobe, look no further than The A-Team. Each character is defined by their clothes. Hannibal with his safari jacket, Face with his leather jacket, BA with his gold chains and perpetual lack of sleeves. A ball cap, bomber jacket, and pair of Chuck Taylors is Murdock. You can see that from space.

There was a similar situation on the ’60s Dragnet. Joe Friday and Bill Gannon wore the same suits every episode.

One other thing that I find fun to look out for is how the wardrobe department of shows not only dress characters for their personalities, but also how they coordinate the characters with each other.

One of my favorite things about CSI:Miami is that starting in the second season, wardrobe started doing a little color matchy-matchy between characters. Calleigh’s shirt matching Frank’s tie. Delko and Speed wearing similar colored shirts. By the fourth season, it was full-tilt coordination. It seems like at least one character in each episode is guaranteed to match Frank’s tie. And there are some episodes when there’s obviously a color theme. Everybody sporting a shade of one color. It’s glorious.

On the flip side of that, wardrobe on The Golden Girls did their best to make each woman stand out on their own. Not much in the way of matchy-matchy unless there was a specific reason. There’s one episode that sticks out in my mind in which Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche are sitting on the couch looking like a stoplight -red, yellow, green.

Just like the plots and slang, the fashion of reruns can either be dated or timeless, however it never fails to deliver some sort of statement.

Just pay closer attention to the threads.

Rerun Junkie Show–CSI: Miami

csi miami

WARNING: This post is just full of spoilers. Like I held back not at all. Viewer discretion is advised.

I watched CSI: Miami when it was first run back in the early aughts, jumping into the show in like the third or fourth season and then sort of fading out towards the last few (I was in and out, but I did watch the series finale, of course). When Charge! added the series to the line-up, I wasn’t exactly enthused (it replaced my morning Magnum PI for a time), but ended up putting it on because there was nothing else to watch and quickly found myself reliving the glory that is this show.

Then I realized that the show had been off the air for about 10 years which makes it Rerun Junkie eligible in my book. And that means I justified watching five hours of it every night for months as research.

A spin-off of CSI, the Miami version focuses on crime lab leader Lt. Horatio Caine (David Caruso) and his team which during the course of ten seasons included Calleigh Duquense (Emily Proctor), Eric Delko (Adam Rodriguez), Megan Donner (Kim Delaney), Tim Speedle (Rory Cochrane), Ryan Wolfe (Jonathan Togo), Natalia Boa Vista (Eva LaRue), Jesse Cardoza (Eddie Cibrian), and Walter Simmons (Omar Benson Miller). They worked alongside medical examiners Dr. Alexx Woods (Khandi Alexander), Dr. Tara Price (Megalyn Echikunwoke), and Dr. Tom Loman (Christian Clemenson), and detectives Frank Tripp (Rex Linn), Yelina Salas (Sofia Milos), Adell Sevilla (Wanda DeJesus), John Hagen (Holt McCallany), and Jake Berkeley (Johnny Whitworth). And everybody drove around in Hummers. Your first clue that this show as go big because we’re already home.

The first three seasons were pretty standard police procedural fare, cases mixed with personal lives and tragic backstories. Now, these cases were very Miami, of course. The first episode had a plane crash in the Glades that led to Delko and Speed needing to obtain the plane’s pilfered black boxes from a pit of juvie alligators. That sets a tone. There are also crocodiles, air boats, wild fires, night clubs, sex parties, diplomatic immunity, Cuban refugees, sharks, pirates, a hurricane, a tsunami, and boat drive-bys.

However, there were hints of the show it would become.

In the first three seasons, we got the roller coaster that was Horatio Caine’s dead brother Raymond, an undercover narcotics officer killed in the line of duty during a not-so-on-the-books drug deal, casting a shadow over his legacy. Complicating matters is that Horatio has feelings for his widowed sister-in-law Yelina and they are somewhat reciprocated, but then Horatio finds out that his brother had an affair and a daughter named Madison with meth addict Susie (Azura Skye) while undercover and because Horatio takes on the responsibility of supporting them, Yelina thinks the child is Horatio’s and that pretty much ends things for them and so she starts dating IAB Sgt. Rick Stetler (David Lee Smith), who has it in for Horatio and his team, but it all comes out in the wash when it’s revealed that Raymond was so undercover that he’s not only not dead, but also Dean Winters for that episode, and his apparent murderer, who was Susie’s shitty husband, was also deep undercover, and now-alive Raymond takes Yelina and their son Ray Jr. to be safe in Brazil with Horatio’s help, but we never hear about Susie and Madison again after Ray Jr. gives Madison a bone marrow transplant.


So, when Season 4 rolled around, the lab got a face lift, the show leaned into the orange aura and color coordination, and the show mashed that gas pedal to the floor. I swear the writing room philosophy was “Why the fuck not?” and I am not mad about it. The results are pure entertainment.

In Season 4 alone, Horatio had to contend with both a serial killer from his past (who frames him for murder at one point) and the deadly Mala Noche gang. He ended up falling for and marrying Delko’s sister Marisol (Alana De La Garza), who was fighting cancer, something Delko had been keeping from everyone as he struggled to support her financially and emotionally, including scoring pot for her to help her symptoms, which he got in trouble for, but Horatio bailed him out. Delko also wasn’t thrilled with his boss marrying his sister, but he got over it, blessing the happy marriage that lasted until the next episode when Marisol was gunned down by the Mala Noche (you had to see that coming, right?). Meanwhile, the whole lab is plagued by a mole and the feds eventually come crashing down on them. Also, Ryan got shot in the eye with a nail gun at some point. It was very busy.

In the ensuing seasons: Horatio acquired a teenage son named Kyle Harmon (Evan Ellingson) he didn’t know he had as the result of his own undercover work and whose mother Julia Winston (Elizabeth Berkley) had questionable motives and questionable taste in men (outside of Horatio, of course). One of her husbands, Ron Saris (Kim Coates), proved to be a dangerous, underhanded man, and a real pain in Horatio’s ass. Julia ends up being committed after going off her bipolar meds because she’s falsely accused of stealing drugs (it was really Dr. Price, who had a bit of an addiction) and trying to shoot Horatio in front of their son, who later enlists in the military and is sent to the Middle East as a medic. Horatio also fakes his death once with the help of Ryan and David Keith, then in a later season gets shot for real by Ethan Embry, who also puts Natalia in a car trunk and pushes it into the ocean. Does Horatio recover enough from his gunshot wound to save her AND solve the case? You’re damn right.

Natalia and Ryan were also nearly killed when a booby-trapped meth lab blew up and she ended up with some hearing loss as a result. When her abusive ex-husband Nick (Rob Estes) resurfaces and makes her life a living hell by following the abuser playbook, using his smarmy charm and knowledge of the law against her, which forces a shaky truce so she can keep working, he ends up getting murdered (because the dude is a shitbag), which rudely results in both Natalia and beloved DNA analyst Maxine Valera (Boti Bliss) being accused of the crime. Her sister Anya (Natalie Morales) was kidnapped by a murderous photographer (which was based on a real life close call of Eva LaRue’s sister). And Natalia was also kidnapped by a man who wanted her to prove that he was innocent (and nothing says “innocent” like the desperation of a felony). She was also briefly on everyone’s shitlist because she was the Season 4 lab mole. Just as brief was her relationship with Delko, which resulted in a pregnancy scare.

Delko would end up getting shot in the leg and the head (but we only remember the head shot), and the bit of the bullet left lodged in his temporal lobe would prove to be problematic as he recovered with some memory problems and the healing process resulted in him hallucinating a not-dead Speed, and then later the bullet shifting in his brain landed him in a coma. He took a break from being a CSI for a bit after that and sort of alienated everyone when it was discovered he was doing a low key investigation for State’s Attorney Rebecca Niven (Christina Chang) (who also briefly dated Horatio) regarding missing evidence, which got her blown up, and nearly took out Eric as well. And to add insult to energy, he found out that his dad wasn’t his dad and that his real dad was a Russian mobster and his birth certificate was a fake and he almost got deported back to Cuba, except that it was revealed that his Russian dad was actually an American CIA plant from way back in the day so Eric was still an American at the end of the day. He also ended up having an on-again, off-again relationship with Calleigh.

Calleigh would also have relationships with a couple of other detectives, first Hagan and then Berkeley. It was after Hagan’s suicide in front of her in firearms that Calleigh stepped away from her calling as a bullet girl for a bit. There was also a bit of flirtation with an FBI guy by the name of Peter Elliot (Michael B. Silver), but that tanked when she found out he got engaged to Assistant State’s Attorney Monica West (Bellamy Young), who was so hell bent on bringing down the lab, she stole evidence to do it. She was once put on leave for an off-duty officer involved incident in which it looked like an innocent bystander had been killed by her actions, but she was cleared. Calleigh nearly died of smoke inhalation twice, the second time resulting in a near-death experience that had her investigating the crime with the victim. Like Natalia, Calleigh was also kidnapped, but she was taken by criminals who wanted her to help them cover up a crime (thanks to a disgraced Cooper’s website targeting her because he blamed her for getting fired and not his own dispshit, thievery actions), but she was smart enough to leave a clue for every clue she removed, which led to the cavalry arriving just in time. While Ethan Embry was on the run after trying to take out Horatio and Natalia, Calleigh ended up forming a bond with his two kids, particularly his son Austin, and ended up later adopting him and his sister Patty.

After getting shot in the eye with a nail gun, Ryan sort of careened out of control, leaking information to reporter Erica Sykes (Amy Laughlin), assaulting lab rat Dan Cooper (Brendan Fehr) and a police officer, and then developing a gambling problem, which resulted in his debt being potentially held over an investigation. He paid it off just in time…by gambling on the clock. As a result, he got fired and spent quite a bit of time working his way back to the team. But his gambling past caught up with him through a support group buddy. Because of him he ended up being kidnapped and tortured (including some Marathon Man dentistry) by some Russian mob guys who wanted him to dispose of evidence in a crime. He was also framed for murder once by Stetler and then accused of a murder which was actually committed by late-comer CSI Samantha Owens (Taylor Cole), who left him to take the rap, breaking his heart because Ryan struggled to fall for anyone outside the lab. Oh, and he also got blown away by a tornado once, but despite landing on a car, was right back to work to help solve the case. Horatio was right. It’s in his blood.

Before we even got to the fifth season, Alexx had already survived two wild fires, being taken hostage by an escaped convict, and an explosion. So naturally she survives a rocket launcher attack, a meth lab fire (along with Ryan, who seems to have some questionable luck in the meth lab department), and the bad mojo of a solar eclipse. Prescribing antibiotics for Ryan’s nail gunned eye infection lands her in hot water with her boss, but she chooses loyalty to her friends over career politics. However, the job ends up getting to her and after her son ends up a murder suspect (the team clears him, of course), she decides to choose life over death and leaves the morgue, eventually taking a part time job at the hospital.

Within the span of a couple of episodes, Frank ends up stepping on a landmine (he’s okay!) and then a house explosion lands a water heater directly onto his new car. He ends up getting promoted to sergeant and during his time in uniform, he’s on a prison bus that crashes. The resulting head injury from the crash and an assault by one of the prisoners combined with the mob rush around the bus, disorients Frank to the point that he shoots at a man pointing a gun at him. In reality, it’s an unarmed deaf woman. Frank is distraught, but ballistics quickly reveals he didn’t shoot her. He eventually returns to plain clothes work, for which we are grateful because Frank has the best ties.

Jesse was only with us for a single season, but we find out this wife was murdered by a porn producer who also murdered his own wife and a big part of the reason Jesse’s in Florida is because he’s stalking the killer’s new unsuspecting woman in an attempt to keep her safe. Horatio and Delko end up going out to LA to clear Jesse’s reputation which as been besmirched by the killer and his attorney, Malcolm McDowell. Only Horatio Caine can best Malcolm McDowell. That’s like a law. And they eventually get said killer. Sadly, Jesse’s time in Miami ends with his unfortunate death after the entire lab is gassed by a serial killer high on his own genius and Jesse hits his head when he collapses.

Walter was lucky. He was mostly drama-free and with the exception of being put on the hot seat during an investigation into some missing diamonds (thanks to Delko’s big mouth) and feeling really guilty about Ryan’s tornado experience since he felt it was his fault, he was mostly left to deal with other people’s drama. Which is fine. Walter is precious and should be protected at all costs. Same for Dr. Loman. I love them and I will fight you if you say otherwise.

Now take all of this and weave in cases that feature politicians (including Ed Beagley Jr.), judges, spring breakers, weapons that can vaporize people, Russian mobsters (including Andrew Divoff), reality stars, guns that can shoot around corners, dirty bombs, repeat offenders (like Clavo Cruz, played by Gonzalo Menendez), Santeria, serial killers, cougars, con artists, identity theft, boa constrictors, then-current pop culture trends, sex workers, models, cartels, wannabes, and baby, you got yourself a good time.

Some familiar faces that popped up during the series run include: soap vets Wes Ramsey (who first played a baddie before coming back much later in a recurring role as video guy Dave Benton), Rena Sofer, Jennifer Sky, James Patrick Stewart, Amber Tamblyn, Jamie Luner, and Kirsten Storms; Lauren Holly, Natasha Henstridge, Judy Greer, Tia Carrere, Maria Conchita Alonso; future Lost alums Ian Sommerholder, Maggie Grace, Emilie de Ravin, and Mark Pelligrino; future Arrow stars Stephen Amell, Rick Gonzalez, Paul Blackthorne, and David Ramsey; Castle stars Stana Katic, Tamala Jones, and Seamus Deaver; John Schneider, Patrick Cassidy, Greg Evigan, Anthony Michael Hall, Alan Ruck; Candyman himself, Tony Todd, and his lady love Virginia Madsen; Stargate-ers Ben Browder, Michael Shanks, Corin Nemic, David DeLuise, Louis Ferreira, Alaina Huffman, and Willie Garson; Star Trek-ers Chris Pine (who will never be as cool as his dad), Robert Beltran, Anson Mount, and Tim Russ; BSG stars Callum Keith Rennie, Michael Trucco, and Jamie Bamber; Aisha Tyler, Missy Crider, Debi Mazar, Brooke Burns; Alien franchise victims Mark Rolston (as pain in the ass fed Glen Cole) and Raymond Cruz; in addition to Dean Winters, other Oz alums included Dean’s brother Scott William Winters, Lance Reddick (as yet another recurring fed), and Brian Bloom; Sean “Diddy” combs, Rich Eisen, Sticky Fingaz, Zac Effron; Hawaii Five-0/Magnum PI reboot contributors Ian Anthony Dale, Katrina Law, William Forsythe, Sung Kang, Taryn Manning, and James Remar (who was also a Warrior); Lucy Lawless, Terry Crews, Joe Manganiello, Timothy Omundson, Jon Hamm; fellow Miami show Burn Notice stars Jeffrey Donovan and Coby Bell; future Breaking Bad stars Aaron Paul and Giancarlo Esposito; NCIS: New Orleans folks Rob Kerkovich and Necar Zadegan; Firefly‘s Adam Baldwin and Sean Maher; Christopher Titus, Elaine Hendrix, Jake Busey, Jsu Garcia, Beth Brodrick, Orlando Jones, Alica Witt; Walking Dead zombie dodgers Michael Cudlitz, Michael Rooker, and John Bernthal; legends in my mind Daniel Roebuck, Ned Bellamy, Wings Hauser, Don Swayze, and Jeff Fahey; and legit goddesses Bo Derrick, Cheryl Ladd, and Raquel Welch.

I couldn’t include all of the guest stars I wanted to because I could go on forever. A lot of fabulous people strolled through this part of Miami.

Also, special shout out to our recurring lab folks that I haven’t mentioned yet because this evidence isn’t going to analyze itself: Brian Poth (Tyler Jenson), Christopher Redman (Michael Travers), Brooke Bloom (Cynthia Wells), Cristián de la Fuente (Sam Belmontes), Armando Valdes-Kennedy (Aaron Peters), Leslie Odom Jr. (Joseph Kayle), and Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Laura); a nod to a few of our other officers and detectives: Shelli Burgh (Officer Paula Muro), Joel West (Officer Jessop…blown up by the Mala Noche, RIP), and Michael Whaley (Detective Bernstein); and special consideration to Stephen Tobolowsky whose State’s Attorney Don Haffman seemed to be the only one who didn’t end up dead or in jail.

Though the show was known for its tendency to be soapy, over the top, maybe even a bit camp (all of these are good points as far as I’m concerned), it still managed to have some interesting storytelling and emotional weight.

Speed’s death in a shootout at the beginning of Season 3 mirroring his involvement in a shootout in the first season, not just his gun failing to fire because he didn’t clean it (dammit, Speed), but also him getting hit in the same spot on his chest, the lack of a bullet proof vest dooming him the second time is a beautiful piece of symmetry and Speed’s final moments are terribly upsetting, especially given how senseless it was in the context of the case. But his death was allowed to resonate, not just for that season, but later seasons as well. Delko was deeply impacted by Speed’s death, which led to him engaging in some really risky behaviors. When Delko hallucinates Speed in Season 6 because of the way his brain is healing after being shot, he ends up having to grieve him all over again.

Speed’s name comes up later in Season 8 when Delko is in a coma and Horatio pleads with him to stay around because after losing Marisol and Raymond and Speed, he can’t bear to lose him, too. It’s such a beautiful scene in the middle of a nostalgic episode that gives us the story of how the band got together. A tricky thing to execute in such a late season, it does a great job of showing how everyone connected as Horatio and his partner John “Sully” Sullivan (Brad Leland), who would be pretty relevant in Season 8, investigate a murder, with Horatio encouraging a very not-CSI Delko to pursue the career, Calleigh just transferring to the lab, Cardoza fixing to leave the lab in Miami to go to LA and recommending a guy named Speed on the way out the door, Frank in uniform, Alexx back in the morgue, and Natalia still with the FBI. Ryan and Walter aren’t around in the flashbacks, of course, but they’re in the present and that’s good, too.

Delko and Calleigh weren’t the only ones with near-death experiences and hallucinations. After Horatio was shot by Ethan Embry, he found himself back with Marisol again. I so love when shows don’t shy away from things outside the realm of known reality, particularly when they’re shows like this that are so science, fact, and evidence driven.

One other storyline that I particularly love that played out over the first few seasons was that of Calleigh and her dad, lawyer Kenwall Duquense (John Heard). It was obvious that she was daddy’s girl and loved the man very much, but his alcoholism and inability to stay on the wagon created such a sad strain on their relationship. When his drinking inevitably leads to an incident in which it looks like he may have killed someone (but of course didn’t), Calleigh puts her foot down. If she can’t stop him from drinking, she’ll stop him from driving and takes his keys. In his last appearance, he seems to be doing better.

The fact that the show wasn’t above having some intentional fun is great, too. The episode titles themselves got punny, like “Bang Bang Your Debt” (a shady credit card company preying on college kids leads to murder), “Smoke Gets in Your CSIs” (the first time Calleigh suffers smoke inhalation), “Chip/Tuck” (a plastic surgeon gets put into a wood chipper), “Grizzly Murder” (a bear attack on some hunters), “Won’t Get Fueled Again” (a guy involved in a fuel smuggling ring is set on fire), and “Look Who’s Taunting” (the first episode featuring the Miami Taunter serial killer suspected to be Esteban Navarro, played by Kuno Becker). Seriously. Just inject that sort of thing straight into my veins.

There’s a Rashomon-style episode that has Ryan, Calleigh, and Delko coming to very different conclusions on who killed their victim before Horatio steps in to help them tie it all together. There’s also an episode in which Ryan starts to believe that he’s been cursed by a little coffin that Eric won’t touch due to his respect for the Santeria alter in the victim’s room. In the end, Ryan’s not cursed…but someone else might be.

There’s also an episode in which Ryan is certain he sees a floating hat at a crime scene and even though everyone else gives him shit about it, the mystery of the floating hat is actually relevant to the crime. Doesn’t stop Walter from messing with him later, though.

I really do love the relationships between the characters on the show, particularly the Delko/Speed friendship (I love those two on cases together), the Walter/Ryan friendship (the two of them being confronted with a bear is legit one of my favorite laugh out loud moments), and the Natalia/Ryan friendship (I love how they support each other). None of them are above getting pissy with each other (Delko and Ryan could get particularly bitchy, especially with each other, and Frank was never above busting Ryan’s balls), but there’s something subtly refreshing about how that almost never happens between Calleigh and Natalia, and something gently reassuring about how Horatio always has everyone’s back, whether they want it or not.

At the end of the day, they’re all family.

And the show is a bonkers good time.


horatio caine

Shades of McGarrett

Thanks to Charge! and my habit of leaving the TV on in the background while I work, I’ve been half-ass rewatching CSI:Miami. I watched this show first run back in the aughts (though I was in and out on the final few seasons) and it is just as bonkers as I remember it. Which is absolutely not a bad thing. Of the three CSIs that were running at the time, it definitely trotted into nighttime soap territory while proceduraling and I find that to be good fun.

As I’ve been rewatching it, I find myself remembering some of the episodes and the character arcs. But I’m also picking up on things I didn’t really notice before. Or maybe care about.

This time through, I’ve found myself somewhat captivated by Horatio Caine aka David Caruso. Now, I’m not a main guy kinda gal, so it’s not surprising that I didn’t pay that much mind to him during my original watch. No slight against him. His sunglasses-quip one-two is iconic, after all. But the main has never been my bag.

(If memory serves, my favorite character back in the day was Tripp, and if you’re wondering why I would pick this sarcastic, no-patience, no fucks to give detective over the young, pretty CSIs, let me tell you that even in my twenties, that man spoke to my soul. It’s speaks even louder now that I’m his age.)

So, I’ve been puzzling about this. Because there’s something about Horatio Caine that’s caught my eye now, something that’s captured my attention that didn’t before, and I haven’t been able to put my finger on it.

Until the other night when it hit me and the epiphany lit up my brain in such a way that I think I might have actually cried out “Eureka!” Also, my eyes might have bulged out of my skull. It wasn’t pretty, but it was satisfying.

There is something very Steve McGarrett about Horatio Caine.

Obviously, this is probably just me, though it could be argued that Jack Lord set a certain standard when it came to good looking justice seekers with fab hair and impeccable style when playing Steve McGarrett, and David Caruso kind of followed along with that with Horatio Caine. But truly, this is an all-in-my-head vibe kind of thing that I now cannot unsee and so I shall gift it unto you.

I’m not apologizing.

Here’s my vibe comparison.

Steve McGarrett and Horatio Caine have a lot in common. They’re both the leaders of their law enforcement teams, something they take very seriously. They both take their jobs as a whole seriously. They are justice seekers and that is serious business. They have a tendency towards stoicism when they’re hunting down bad guys, and it’s no surprise that since they’re the pinnacle of good guys, they almost always get their quarry. And damned if they don’t always have the line that puts anyone and everyone in their place.

This, of course, is sort of the backbone to the leads on this sort of show. That strong, in charge, can’t be beat personality.

But, both Steve McGarrett and Horatio Caine have softer sides that tend to be forgotten amongst the Book ’em, Danno and sunglasses of pop culture.

For all of their tendency to the serious, both men have a sense of humor. They find things funny. And there’s something sweet and glorious when they smile. Perhaps because they’re so serious so much of the time a quirk of the lip means that much more.

The way Horatio Caine interacts with children is reminiscent of the way Steve McGarrett interacts with them. Both men have the ability to be soothing without being condescending. They have a knack for making a kid feel safe. Also, the little ones seem to adore them. I don’t know what faces they’re making when we’re not looking, but babies and toddlers think they’re great. Likewise, these serious business, childless men (okay, Horatio acquired a teenage son in the later seasons thanks to a before-times thing with Elizabeth Berkley because why the fuck not) are just as happy with the little ones. They look nothing but completely comfortable with them and their reputations do not suffer a bit for it.

The biggest vibe for me, though (aside from the smiling thing because my laws the sweetness) is the affection and even tenderness each man has for the members of his team. It’s anticipated that they will have their team’s backs if someone comes for them or implies that they are anything other than terrific humans. There are no doubts that these two men will have the heads of anyone who hurts one of their crew. And that injured party in peril will have the love and support of their leader. Always.

But it goes beyond that given.

These two men care about their team beyond the work and it’s shown in ways both surprising and mundane. Steve thanking Danny for a birthday party at the office with sincere gratitude and a touch of physical affection is as sweet as it is surprising (almost as surprising as Steve getting blown up 30 seconds later…well, as surprising as it can be when it happens once a season). He’s truly touched. Meanwhile, Horatio offering to be the DD during a night out could be written off as a Drive Sober PSA and a given for a responsible cop. However, the implication goes beyond that. He’s there to make sure his team gets home safely. Period.

It’s a likeness that struck me hard.

As iconic as Steve McGarrett is, I never thought anyone could, intentionally or not, compare.

Leave it to a ginger in Miami with a pair of excellent shades to do just that.