The best-worst show about technology came back for its second-season premiere with 100% more Ted Danson and 1000% more dei ex machina driving its plotlines than before. The cast is slightly different, but the relentless corniness is simply amplified.
For the uninitiated, CSI: Cyber focuses on a motley crew of investigators from the FBI's Cyber Crime Unit, led by Special Agent Avery Ryan (played, as always, by Oscar winner Patricia Arquette.) Tough-talkin' Elijah Mundo (James van der Beek) spars with reformed "black hat" hacker Brody Nelson (Shad Moss) while cuddly neckbeard caricature Daniel Krumitz (Charley Koontz) and second reformed "black hat" hacker Raven Ramirez (Hayley Kiyoko) solve techno-crimes.
The plot of "Why-Fi" is a murder mystery. After a flaw in the tech in a home security network leaves houses vulnerable to burglaries, a man is killed by his intruder. The gang solves the case with the help of the following gadgets:
- A Roomba that can retrace its last vacuuming session to show the outline of a dead body — the divorced dad killed in the home invasion.
- A game console that records the body movements of the murderer and victim with a 3D mapping system as they struggle. The movements become visible when our gang puts on nightvision glasses to see the recording of infrared lights bouncing off the room.
- A GPS-enabled golf club as the murder weapon that allows our investigators to track it to the body. They find the club and the body in an abandoned warehouse in a burnt-up car, yet the body and weapon are intact.
- A hacked "smart doll" named Marla used to manipulate a little girl into unlocking a window, accessed by "spoofing the router" from a van outside the house.
- A burner phone that, despite being blended up in a blender, contains a motion detection sensor so sensitive it picks up "even tiny vibrations." Nelson is able to pull a sequence of data points and tell that the burner phone was near someone typing. "Are you really gonna tell us you know what he was typing?" Avery asks. Yep. Nelson is able to pinpoint the hacker's email address in seconds. They catch him. No one seems that sad about the dead man.
Why does the hacker start this nonsensical murder train in motion? He wants to collect payments from companies for discovering zero-days for the Marla doll and the home security system, so he hires a guy to burglarize houses. The dead man was just collateral damage. We never find out if the companies fix the products or what sent the hacker on his road to bold sociopathy.
In between its logic-hopscotching case of the week, CSI:Cyber attempts to hook viewers with snippets of its characters' personal problems. Last season, Krumitz's sister murdered the man who murdered their parents when they were children (as one does) and in this episode, she goes to jail after her self-defence defence falls through. Nelson is now hooking up with his fellow hacker Raven Ramirez, and Mundo is depressed because his dad has cancer.
And yep, Ted Danson is here now.
Danson is reprising his role as "DB Russell" from the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which was cancelled after last season. RIP OG CSI.
I guess the writers figured CSI: Cyber fans are familiar enough with the other installments to know who Danson's character is, because DB's introduction is handled very abruptly, almost as if they want us to think he's been lurking in the background all along, showing the gang whimsical crime-stopping tools just offscreen.
"As Nelson would say, you on fleek," DB tells Avery in their first scene together, as they race "cyber-cockroaches" as though DB had always been gallivanting around with our team of cyber-sleuths.
In addition to filling to the older-dad-guy hole in the cast left by Peter "Janosz Poha" MacNicol, Danson is really starting to worry me about the acting opportunities for silver-haired Hollywood veterans.
Danson beat out John Lithgow and Robin Williams for the "DB Russell" role. And now he's clinging to it. I know we mostly talk about how Hollywood has a dearth of roles for older women, but if LITHGOW scrounged for franchise procedural work and couldn't get it, what kind of world are we living in? I expected better things for Danson. I expected better things for all of us.
Can they not make a Becker 2: Back to Beckin' at the very least?
Shad Moss Vest Watch: I am shocked and disturbed to report that the artist formerly known as Bow Wow, the artist formerly known as Lil Bow Wow, did NOT rock his signature vest-and-tie combo in a single frame this episode.
Bad graphic of the week: