CSI Season 14 Review “Torch Song”

On the latest episode of “CSI,” we got an updating of the infamous incident at the Great White concert where one hundred people died in a fire at a rock club back in 2003, including the band’s guitarist. (Way to keep it current, guys. “Law and Order,” watch your back!) Anyway, in “Torch Song,” it wasn’t nearly as destructive a show, with nowhere near as many people perishing in this particular club fire, but one suffering from a bad case of murder. However, the band fared a little worse, with two out of the three members going to the great gig in the sky. Or down below, as the case might be, given their music.

This was easily a step up from last week’s so-so episode, but still a bit too old hat for its own good. I did like the idea of exploring the “hatecore” movement, which is basically what used to be called “skincore” or “nazicore” when I was a kid. I distinctly remember going to an all-ages show in Atlanta back in the day, and not realizing I was walking into a mini-skinhead rally. Unbeknownst to us, there was a “skincore” band on the roster, which I want to say was called Skrewdriver.

As me and most of my friends had long hair and were skate-punk types, it did not end well, and a massive fight broke out in the parking lot after the show after we started chanting “Nazi punks f*** off!” (as in the infamous Dead Kennedys song) during their set. We did alright for ourselves, but we were pretty young and really just got lucky, and things got worse before they got better, believe me. But that’s a longer story than we have room for here, so I’ll move on.

Anyway, this was a similar sort of deal, as a guy who was Latino showed up, unaware he was at a “hatecore” show and got into it with a white power type. It didn’t end well for the guy and he was killed in the process, but the murderer in question didn’t start the fire to cover their tracks. Instead, it was…drum roll, please… mother freaking Cliff Claven! Yep, it was good old John Ratzenberger, making one of my readers’ off-handed crack about a “Cheers” reunion gone dead a reality. (See the comments in this review.) Go figure. Maybe he/she should get a job writing for the show!

Here, he played a resentful bar owner- wink, wink- who’d had it up to here with these kids today and their newfangled “hatecore” and aimed to do something about it and collect some insurance money in the process. All things considered, two out of three ain’t bad, but that’s still no excuse to sell Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar, dude! For shame. Ultimately, he would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those meddling kids…oh wait, that’s “Scooby Doo,” my bad.

The arsonist didn’t fare much better, being one of the ones who ended up in the emergency room in intensive care for severe burns when his escape route ended up being blocked by the aforementioned murderer’s getaway car. Don’t you hate it when that happens? The guy whose car it was also got his, with a blast of acid in his face, and not the LSD kind. Bad trip!

All in all, none of this was as fun as I might have made it sound, and though the double perp gambit was reasonably clever, much like last week’s twist, it was a bit too familiarly tread ground overall to be too effective, ultimately. I mean, was it sort of fun seeing Ted Danson gives the screws to John Ratzenberger? Kinda sorta. But it wasn’t enough overall to rescue the episode as a whole, though I did like the revelation that rock concerts were the closest thing to a religious experience that Sara (Jorja Fox) had ever had. Right there with you, Sidle. Those first few Lollapaloozas? So very awesome.

What did you think of the latest “CSI”? Did you enjoy the “Cheers” mini-reunion? Do you wish they’d pushed it further and invited more of the gang along for the ride? Ever had any nasty run-ins at a rock show as well? Sound off below in the comments section and I’ll see you next week!

About The Author

Mark Trammell is the resident entertainment critic at UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is also a Graduate Student and does a vid-cast movie review show. His impossible dream is that "Twin Peaks" will one day be resurrected and pick up where it left off. Until then, he drowns his woes in anything remotely similar, from "Buffy" to "Lost" to "Pretty Little Liars." This has not always been a good thing-cough, "Ringer", cough- but now at least it can help pay the bills.

  • Jim J

    All Star casting, John M. Jackson from Jag, Eva Larue From CSI Miami, and John Ratzenberger from Cheers and a ripped from a very old headline on the Great White club fire story. It’s three decades of nostalgia in one episode.
    I figured that Cliff Clavin would be guilty of something, you don’t have him in the episode just to be backround. The character was sort of loserish like Cliff Clavin.
    I have been fortunate enough to actually enjoy every rock show I have been to.

    • Mark Trammell

      I thought that fireman looked familiar! I didn’t watch “Jag” regularly, but I was always sweet on Catherine Bell. I could practically fill a book with crazy stories about the concerts I’ve been to, not all of them good.

  • http://www.watchingthewasteland.com/ Jamie Paton

    Sometimes I think I enjoy CSI just for the familiarity of it all, like you can always pretty much predict who the culprit it based on them being a seemingly innocent bystander or b/c they are a promoted guest star.

    On the flip side that also makes CSI’s formula equally boring, but I guess, for me, by the time its 10pm and halfway through the week I’m just looking for ‘comfort food’ TV and CSI still fits the bill. Plus, I enjoyed seeing Nick getting the break in the case with his science know-how, and appreciate anytime he drops some insect knowledge. Nice callback to Grissom.

    • Mark Trammell

      Oh yeah, I totally forgot to mention the ant thing. That was pretty cool, actually. I think you’re right about the comfort food thing. It must be hard coming up with “new” plots after 14 seasons, too!