Tag Archives: Horatio Caine

Nil sub sole novum

Martin sent me a rather silly YouTube link, mostly about Horatio Caine’s one-line quips at the end of the prologues of CSI: Miami. The sameness of his delivery, episode after episode, reminded me irresistibly of Aristophanes’ The Frogs. Indeed, I could not resist setting it all out. How would Aristophanes have tackled the rivalry among the three CSI shows?1

Dionysus, patron of drama, descends into the underworld to bring one of the great dramatists back to earth with him, to inspire the people of Athens to their former greatness. In the land of the dead, Aeschylus and Euripides are contending for the seat of honour, at Hades’ left hand, awarded to the greatest tragedian; it was Aeschylus, but Euripides is trying to take it over. In the background, Sophocles is staying out of the battle.

Like Dionysus, Dr Quincy, ME goes into the TV studios to bring one of the current crop of detectives with him, to solve the crimes of the modern era. There, Gil Grissom and Horatio Caine are arguing over who should get the largest dressing room, awarded to the best CSI; it was Gil’s, but Caine is trying to take it over. In the backdrop, Mac is staying out of the battle.

The two playwrights’ works are compared to one another in a variety of ways. After opening prayers, each dramatist describes the other’s weaknesses and his own strengths. It becomes clear that Dionysus prefers Aeschylus, the more traditional and methodical playwright, over the more modern Eurypides.

The two detectives’ shows are also compared to one another. After a brief introduction covering their education and work experience, each CSI describes the other’s weaknesses and his own strengths2. It becomes clear that Quincy prefers Grissom, the scientist, over the flashier Caine.

Then the true contest begins. A nit-picking analysis of each dramatist’s best prologue, for logic and for style. The best3 part is when Aeschylus proves that, metrically and structurally, one can insert “lost his bottle of oil” into the line-ends of his opponent’s prologues.

Again, the key comparison is a nit-picking analysis of each detective’s investigative techniques, for protocol and for style. The best part is when Gil proves that, dramatically and stylistically, one can put one’s sunglasses on and sidle like a crab at any point in his opponent’s exchanges with other characters2, again.

The final contest takes place over a set of scales, as each dramatist recites a single line of one of his plays. The weightiest line wins. In each case, Aeschylus’ works outweigh Euripides’.

Like Dionysus, Quincy uses scales for a quantitiative analysis. Each CSI recounts one of his one-line end of prologue quips. The heaviest line wins. This bit, I’ll do.4

Come here, then, if I have to do this —
treating detectives just like cheese for sale.
Such clever men as these use clever tools:
Forensic science as is taught in schools
Can only show a fraction of the art.
It’s innovation that’s the greater part
And so when other testing stalls and fails
We turn to systematic means like scales.
Come on. Stand beside the balance scales.
GRISSOM & CAINE [together]:
All right.
Now, each of you grab hold and don’t let go
until I yell at you like Roger Daltrey.
GRISSOM & CAINE [each one holding a scale pan]:
We’re holding on.
Speak your line into the scale.

CAINE [reciting]:
I am going…to get to the truth.
GRISSOM [reciting]:
“Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him.”5
Yaaaaar! Let go. [inspects scales] The pan on Grissom’s side
has gone much further down.
And why is that?
Why? Because he put blood into it.
He wet his words the way wool-sellers do —
whereas you put in a word with wings.
All right, let him speak again and match me.
Grab hold again.
We’re ready.
So speak down.
CAINE [reciting]:
You don’t spend $1,000 on clothes…you’re never going to wear.
GRISSOM [reciting]:
Man versus Gravity. Man lost.
Let go. Let go. This one’s going down again.
He put gravity in — the heaviest of forces.
But I put in money…and my line
was…better phrased.
Yeah, but money’s light.
It’s got no staying power at all. Say something else,
a heavy line, immense and ponderous,
to make you sink.
A really heavy line…
where can I find such a thing among my cases?
I’ll tell you. “We’ve got to move quickly.
The tide is rising, and we have a sinking crime scene.”
You’d better speak —
it’s the last time the two of you get weighed.
CAINE [reciting]:
The verdict is in, Frank, but the jury…is out.
GRISSOM [reciting]:
By law you’ve got to disclose everything. Three bedrooms, two baths, and a skeleton.
He got you again.

How so?
He put in a whole house and a stiff.
A hundred weightlifters couldn’t shift that load.

This last contest gives Dionysus the excuse he needs to bring back the playwright he really prefers, Aeschylus. As a final, stinging rebuke of Euripides’ preference of style over substance, he negotiates for Sophocles to have the seat of honour by Hades.

Like Dionysus, Quincy prefers Grissom6, and declares him the winner. As a final, stinging rebuke of Horatio Caine’s flashy style, he negotiates for Mac to have the coveted trailer.

  1. Paragraphs in italics are a summary of The Frogs. Following paragraphs are, um, translations.
  2. Of course I was tempted. But I do have a life.
  3. And most famous. Justly.
  4. All of Quincy’s lines are minimally adapted from Dionysus’. The Chorus song has been rewritten, but the essence is retained. And all of Caine and Grissom’s lines are from their shows, of course.
  5. Macbeth, Act V, Scene 1
  6. As, clearly, do I