tv review

CSI: Cyber Is As Dumb As It Seems

Far left to right: James Van Der Beek, Patricia Arquette, and Shad “Don’t Call Me Lil’ Bow Wow Anymore, I Guess?” Moss. Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS

I tried every possible way to get out of writing about CSI: Cyber. “Oh, just round up the dumbest things,” my bosses said. “It’s all dumb things,” I pleaded, but they were unmoved. The dumbest things, the dumbest things. Would that be the line, “Unlike drugs, babies have a value … as long as they’re alive”? That’s pretty dumb. Dumb enough that I wrote it down, at least. “After every case, I go somewhere to think” sounds extremely dumb, and it’s even worse when we see that our heroine’s thinking place is on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. You know old Abraham Lincoln, he was so famous for his distaste for cybercrime. Don’t get him started on Bluetooth security. Four score and seven Wi-Fi passwords ago, jeez, Louise.

The dumbest thing. Hm. One detective explains some cockamamie scheme about a computer, and another detective sagely agrees that this “[makes] that computer an accomplice to murder!” This is met with approval. That is not how accomplices, or computers, work. An international baby auction conducted over baby monitors? That’s dumb, too, especially because babies are pretty easy to come by. A line like, “They buy a baby cam to protect their child … and it’s the very thing that gets them abducted” is dumb in a couple of ways, first because it strains credulity, and second because … no shit. I got that part. From watching the show. That’s what the whole episode was about.

What’s the dumbest thing about CSI: Cyber? Hm. Hm. Hm. America, I guess, is the dumbest part? We live in a broken country with some terrifying failures, where police officers can shoot and kill a child without consequence, and people bend over backwards to blame a dead child for his own murder. Where trans women are targeted for violence, where prison guards can relentlessly beat an inmate and then plead to a misdemeanor. Where people reject a germ theory of medicine and endanger children, particularly children who are already sick. Where online death threats are met with police incompetence. We have TV shows dedicated to making fun of how people look. For-profit colleges exist. The death penalty is still legal. This whole War on Drugs thing is not going great. Stand-up comedians are still using Scrooge McDuck as a reference point. And here’s a show where a guy uses his cell phone to derail a roller coaster. Is that the dumbest? Or is that just keeping up?

CSI: Cyber stars Oscar winner Patricia Arquette as Detective Avery Ryan — herself the victim of a cybercrime, oooooh. The cast includes Peter MacNicol, James Van Der Beek, Shad “Don’t Call Me Lil’ Bow Wow Anymore, I Guess?” Moss, and Community’s Charley Koontz (he played Neil), among others. Of CBS’s 18 hours of prime-time programming, 12 hours are crime procedurals of some kind or another, so while CSI: Cyber is functional, it’s also a useless chore. I have no idea what you could get out of CSI: Cyber that you couldn’t get out of Scorpion.

You know what, never mind. “We need a gore-porn forum” is definitely the dumbest thing. “Gore-porn forum” is basically “rural juror.” Gore-porn forum. They even specify that this online gathering space should be “one that caters to those who are sexually aroused by extreme carnage.” Yep, that’s our winner.

CSI: Cyber Is As Dumb As It Seems