All That Glitters
Coloring Place and Identity in CSI
The news that Jerry Bruckheimer, executive producer of two decades of big-screen, enormous-budget guilty pleasures, was producing a television series was greeted with mixed feelings. Any given Bruckheimer film is often spoken of in a tone of derisive superiority by critics and film-going intelligentsia alike, though mysteriously, possibly through some sort of celluloid osmosis, most members of both groups have still seen the film in question. He is a filmmaker who, along with his former partner, the late don Simpson, has had substantially more hits than misses, a stable full of award-winning actors and directors, and has become a brand name that is a license to print money. But he also possesses a unique style, usually making his stamp on a film unmistakable. Whether it is the tense drama of Black Hawk Down or the campy adventure of Armageddon, there is always one constant and it is not the stuff exploding: it is the cinematic style and the trademark color saturation.
Color style has been an important part of the Bruckheimer recipe since early box office successes such as Top Gun. Revisiting these films now, the cinematography still looks fresh and attractive. The use of tints, bright vistas, and color-saturated skies has become as much a part of the Bruckheimer cinema experience as the innocuous ballad at the end of the movie. But the notion of bringing the distinctive visual style to the small screen was the least disconcerting aspect of the idea of Bruckheimer television. How was he going to …