Sunglasses of Justice
November 19, 2006 2:49 AM   Subscribe

Carusobot. Warren Ellis on the semiotics of shades.
posted by srboisvert (34 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ha! Love the shades. I've never watched CSI, but that's pretty much how I imagined it would be. Wow, is DC really that bad an actor? Is the shades thing supposed to be cool, like his character's trademark, or is it a bit toungue-in-cheek?

If the acting thing doesn't work out for DC, it looks like he's got a big future in movie trailer voiceovers.
posted by zardoz at 4:43 AM on November 19, 2006

Realistically, I know the First CSI is pretty much like this. William Peterson does pretty much the same thing (actually whoever the actor is who "opens the show".) Sorta reminds me of the Opening of Saturday Night Live.

Don't blame this on Caruso - blame this on the writing. But yeah, the guy doesn't make the best decisions.

In the first episode of South Park ("Cartman Gets an Anal Probe") Kyle tells his brother Ike, "Do your impersonation of David Caruso's career", to get Ike to jump out of a spaceship. Ike yells back, "It's my turn!", and falls from the spaceship to the earth.
posted by filmgeek at 5:53 AM on November 19, 2006

That's great! I'm rereading Global Frequency now.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 6:02 AM on November 19, 2006

I love CSI. I watched one episode of CSI Miami. The soul-killing suckitude of David Caruso made it unbearable. I will never watch it again.

I'm glad I had a vasectomy years ago as I'm afraid it might have damaged my DNA.
posted by tommasz at 6:32 AM on November 19, 2006

This was great. DC's acting reminds me of Alec Baldwin, in that they've both become a parody of themselves. In Baldwin's case, it's because he has an inescapable knack for satire (e.g. Act III of Pearl Harbor, which was downright hilarious) and in Caruso's's probably just accidental. Because he sucks.
posted by aliasless at 6:40 AM on November 19, 2006

My friends and family have been mocking Caruso's whole "This looks like a case of...murder." bit for what seems to be years now, but I've never noticed the sunglass tick until now. Carusobot indeed!
posted by furtive at 8:30 AM on November 19, 2006

I can't find the well-known TV critic who explained how CSI:Las Vegas has always been a true ensemble work and CSI:Miami has been victimized by Caruso's preening star turns, but I did find this relevant savaging:

[Caruso's] first meeting with TV critics was self-effacing and humble... he would work hard as an ensemble player...

But with the show’s quick success came Caruso’s ego rearing its ugly head again. In just about every scene, Horatio Caine is grinding his jaw, tilting his head, lowering his voice to a whisper to indicate intensity. Opening scenes invariably show him squinting at a dead body, looking morally wounded and hellbent on revenge.

Donning sunglasses cues us to know that he’s ready for business, and he will avenge the dead one by nabbing the bad guy. Cameras usually shoot him at an upward angle, so there’s blue sky above and the hint of magnificence about his statuelike poses.

As I recall, as well, don't they blue-screen the moving clouds? Or is that some other effect? Anyway, he reportedly drove off his only competition, Kim Delaney, in the first season.

See also, TeeVee's Worst Actor award.

aliasless: Yes, Baldwin fully understands his comic potential, one reason he's managed to stay in the game. Personally, I think he always has, in contrast to every one of his brothers. I don't remember enjoying PH that much, though ...

Wow, is DC really that bad an actor? Is the shades thing supposed to be cool, like his character's trademark, or is it a bit toungue-in-cheek?

DC had one great season of NYPD Blue, but I've never seen him that good in anything else (and yes, I gave Jade and Kiss of Death a chance -- the latter was decent enough, but not because of him).

But I think you're onto the real issue here. The heroic stuff they have him doing is so over-the-top that it should be self-parody. It's bad because, like the non-Alec Baldwins, it doesn't understand this.

Ellis really is onto something, though, with the idea that the sunglasses dehumanize the character to science-fictional levels. Similarly the legendary mirrored aviator sunglasses of the chain-gang boss in Cool Hand Luke were used during the Stanford Prison Experiment to disconnect the guards from humanizing eye contact.
posted by dhartung at 8:31 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

i_am_a_Jedi : That's great! I'm rereading Global Frequency now.

If you haven't already seen it, I would very much recommend downloading the pilot they filmed. It's really quite good.

My sunglasses are specially designed to block all light from CSI programs, rendering them inert and incapable of harming me.
posted by quin at 9:02 AM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Am I really the only person on the face of the earth who thinks Kiss of Death was a classic and that it was partially because of and not in spite of Caruso's performance?
posted by Clay201 at 9:38 AM on November 19, 2006

Now I remember why I don't watch this show.
posted by papakwanz at 9:44 AM on November 19, 2006

Wow, Scary Go Round is once again topical.
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:52 AM on November 19, 2006

Wow. I can see why they call him the Carusobot. His tone and cadence are exactly like Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith character.
posted by zsazsa at 9:52 AM on November 19, 2006

I think I'm going to have some fun this week delivering one-liners every time I put on shades.
posted by forallmankind at 9:54 AM on November 19, 2006

CSI: Miami is a blight on the reputation of what we call "regular CSI." I was afraid that the original was about to degenerate but it's managed to stick to what works and what people like, and I still love it.

I've watched a couple CSI: New York episodes, but it's really just Law & Order: CSI. And without Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, et al, it's just not worth it to me.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:10 AM on November 19, 2006

To me, this is just a extreme example of what makes CSI in general suck. The dialogue in every episode of CSI that I've seen is so contrived, so fake snappy, so reeking of a writing trying really hard to be clever and "dynamic", that it just makes me puke. Everyone's constantly finishing each other's sentences, like they're some sort of scientist super-hero Huey, Dewey and Louie.

It makes me cringe constantly. I watch an episode once in a while if the case they're working on catches my attention, but I have to force myself to sit through the dialogue.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:13 AM on November 19, 2006

No one can beat Jerry Orbach at the old one-liner-over-a-dead-body routine. I think someone forgot to tell him he wasn't doing a Catskills act.
posted by ninjew at 11:28 AM on November 19, 2006

As far as fictional law officers go, Buford would take his shades off to indicate intensity. Maybe even stomp on them.

With such exemplary mentors available, it's clear that Mr. Caruso is guilty of a miscarriage of justice.
posted by Haruspex at 11:56 AM on November 19, 2006

Hey has Sorkin ever written a CSI episode?
posted by srboisvert at 12:28 PM on November 19, 2006

this looks like a horrible audition reel - some sort of SNL-ian send-up of people delivering faux serious gotcha one-liners

wow, it's hard to believe this is real or that human beings would watch this show regularly...i'm stunned

the things we don't know we don't know...
posted by django_z at 12:38 PM on November 19, 2006

The bad one-liners are funny, but only because they are invariably followed by that hilarious screeching music hit.

In fact, I want to put that little hit hit behind other things.

"Heineken? Fuck that shit. Pabst Blue Ribbon!"

"SCREEEOOOWWWWWWW!!!! *electric guitar*"

"English, motherfucker, DO YOU SPEAK IT?!"

"SCREEEOOOWWWWWWW!!!! *electric guitar*"

"These are not the droids you're looking for."

"SCREEEOOOWWWWWWW!!!! *electric guitar*"
posted by sparkletone at 12:51 PM on November 19, 2006 [2 favorites]

Caruso really is that bad. He always delivers every line in exactly the same tone of voice, whether he's talking to a co-worker, his girlfriend, or a suspect.
posted by mike3k at 2:17 PM on November 19, 2006

sparkletone is really on to something. I totally want to hear that Who stab after my most mundane utterances.

"What are you doing for lunch Scoo?"

"I brought a sandwich... (*dons shades*) from home."

"SCREEEOOOWWWWWWW!!!! *electric guitar*"
posted by Scoo at 3:18 PM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]

Ha. The Internets tells me that that music hit is the first second or whatever of Won't Get Fooled Again.

I fail at "name that tune." (I've never seen any more of CSI of any sort than teeny bits and pieces in commercials and in this video).

Still, it works well as hilarious punctuation to a crappy one-liner.
posted by sparkletone at 3:24 PM on November 19, 2006

And, incidentally, the new CSI: MIAMI shows Carusobot has been programmed with a new trick. It smiles. It is a creepy, awful smile designed to frighten Carusobot’s human prey

That's from one of Ellis's Bad Signal mailings a few years ago. He's always been good value when discussing television and the Bad Signal mailing list is well worth subscribing to (you can do it here).
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 3:52 PM on November 19, 2006

Warning: Reading Bad Signal may ruin nay enjoyment you might get out of reading his comics, as he recyces himself pretty shamelessly.
posted by Artw at 3:58 PM on November 19, 2006

I saw CSI:Miami last night (well, some of it, I was channel surfing) and it all seemed very run-of-the-mill until Caruso would turn up to overdeliver some obvious statement like "time...for lunch" with verve and poignancy. And then put on his shades.

I'm more a Vincent D'onofrio chap myself. It's the neck twists that indicate he is looking at things from a different angle. Gets me every time.
posted by Sparx at 4:02 PM on November 19, 2006

Warning: Reading Bad Signal may ruin nay enjoyment you might get out of reading his comics, as he recyces himself pretty shamelessly.

I suggest to you that as long as Ellis and Immonen are involved there is nothing that can ruin Nextwave.
posted by sparkletone at 4:08 PM on November 19, 2006

I've been on the bad signal list for a few years now. Often I wonder if I'm not exposing myself to emotional abuse by letting warren into my inbo so often...

I loved this video though...
posted by bflora at 6:49 PM on November 19, 2006

Someone should compile the ENDINGS to every CSI:Miami episode.

My wife and watch it each week. It's usually been brutal, but it's probably the most BEAUTIFUL show in high-definition, and looks great on my TV.

One thing we've noticed is that 90% of the episodes end with Caruso saying something and putting on the glasses.

So really, consider it some sort of artistic bookend...
posted by grum@work at 7:06 PM on November 19, 2006

Just stumbled across this gem and thought I'd add it to the thread for a little Caruso variety. (nsfw-language)
posted by aliasless at 7:47 PM on November 19, 2006

Wow! Yay for Metafilter! I finally got an answer to a questions that's been bugging me forever?

And has nothing to do with David Caruso.

At all.

Or sunglasses.


I finally found the name of THAT song.

Oh, srboisvert, come to my arms, my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

(The Warren Ellis link lead me to Wikipedia to see if I remembered something right which lead me on a Ben Edlund/Astrobase Go tangent which redirected me, eventually, to Powerhouse, by Raymond Scott.)

Ummmmm, yay me?
posted by Samizdata at 8:23 PM on November 19, 2006

Although, upon further reflection...

Upon Caruso, that is...

I asked my girlfriend the following question during an episode of CSI (don't like the show, but the grue factor's a bit of an attractant) -

"He's always looking down. How's he avoiding running into things?"
posted by Samizdata at 8:39 PM on November 19, 2006

"He's always looking down. How's he avoiding running into things?"
To be fair, he looks sideways at least once an episode, usually at right at the end after trapping the guilty party. Typically it goes like this:
Shot of Caruso from the side, showing his grim profile (and bad posture) as he stares at nothing in particular.
"Well, if you couldn't stand the heat..." Caruso turns his head towards the camera to look vaguely at the criminal, " should have stayed out of the kitchen."
Caruso puts on his shades and stalks off, roll credits.

(Actually, Caruso is not CSI:M's biggest problem, which is that the original CSI used up all the half-way plausible plots before CSI:M even started. The one with the three career criminals wooing a wealthy woman by pretending to be a widower with two teenage children, just so that they would have access to the woman's boat club was a particular low point)

posted by AndrewStephens at 10:50 PM on November 19, 2006

Bad as the CSI:M scriptwriters as, they can at least write complete sentences. Something I have yet to master judging by that last comment.
posted by AndrewStephens at 10:54 PM on November 19, 2006

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