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A Series of Tubes: 'CSI: Cyber' Review

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | TV | March 24, 2015 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | TV | March 24, 2015 |

CSI: Cyber premiered a couple of weeks ago. I don’t really remember when because it took me at least two weeks to force myself through the first episode of it. I’d say that it’s terrible, but that’s an insult to the adjective. It achieves levels of ignorance normally reserved for congressional committees, chickens born without heads, and the children of celebrities.

It stars Patricia Arquette who couldn’t phone it in more heavily if she were actually polishing her Oscar with her first CBS paycheck on screen. There’s also the squirrelly dude from Ally McBeal who I will always remember as the Renfield to Vigo’s Dracula in Ghostbusters II. And of course, James Van Der Beek trying to be the big strong ex military dude who’s the obligatory male lead in these affairs. Just give up Dawson, no matter how stoic you get, she’s always choosing Pacey. There are other characters: overweight smart guy, obligatory black hat hacker turned good guy (who’s also black to make it easy to remember), and instance #17 of the CBS punk female (she has dyed hair and does boy stuff).

They’re all the super awesome bestest at whatever it is they do. And they’re complete assholes to local law enforcement. From what horrific few episodes I’ve seen of the various CSI permutations, this is a universal thing. The two constants on these shows are the complete ignorance of anything related to the science they purport to be about and a prodigious pretentious douchery to all those peasant police officers who like breathe on their crime scenes, don’t understand that they should genuflect whenever a CSI agent deigns to speak to them, and like act like they have actual names sometimes. The way CSI agents (are they agents? Ha! Don’t answer that, I don’t care) treat the police is about how I expect that Justin Bieber treats anyone whom he doesn’t pay. Or whom he does pay. Basically anyone but his mom and himself.

The show is about computer crimes sort of, but I’m surprised that they even spelled “cyber” right, since the level of computer knowledge apparent in that first episode is less than that required for using spellcheck. The first episode is called “Kidnapping: 2.0” and 2006 posted on MySpace that it wants its buzzword back. Do you have a vague idea what the following words are referring to: server, URL, tube? Then you know enough about computers and technology that watching this show will probably literally kill you in at most three episodes. Just airing the pilot dropped America’s STEM ranking among countries by seven positions. We’re now behind Moldova.

The complete lack of computer knowledge is further enhanced by the standard television fancy technology shit that no one uses in the real world because it’s horrifically useless. There is the obligatory set of giant televisions and computer screens at the center of the command center like a starship bridge. These only exist on television because they are worthless. Arquette’s character bitches that it takes forever to get the stupid local police to sync in with them. Naturally they have to get them on a video phone in front of the entire team so she can have a three sentence phone call comprised of “we’re coming to take your investigation? Why? Because fuck you that’s why.” If only there was a device we carry in all our pockets that could accomplish the task of this seven second conversation without plastering a fucking face six feet high on a screen. You know why the local police took so long to get the call set up? Because they don’t fucking care about your call you technically illiterate meddling jackasses.

All the agents sit on elevated barstool things and work on laptops in an open room facing the giant displays. Because the most efficient way to get computer work done is NOT in a proper chair, without real monitor and keyboard, and while sitting in front of a bunch of televisions blaring different news broadcasts.

But you know how you know Arquette’s character is hardcore? Because she uses two laptops at the same time, simultaneously using both their touchpads and glancing back and forth between the screens. I’m not even dignifying that shit with snark.

Here’s a helpful infographic that the writers of this show should study carefully as it will at least quadruple their technical knowledge:


Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at You can email him here.

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Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.