The Disney+ Crime Series That Changed American Justice Forever

By Jennifer Muscato | Published

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, is one of the biggest phenomenons in television history. When it premiered in October 2000, there was nothing out there like it. It brought viewers into the world of crime and forensics, showing them a side they had never seen before. This was a good thing for CBS and ratings, but a bad thing for those working in the real world of crime because viewers had a hard time remembering that this was, in fact, a TV show.


Set in Las Vegas (although mostly shot in California), CSI is about a squad of forensic investigators who are trained to solve crimes by examining the evidence and showing great attention to detail. Investigators use advanced technology to find the perpetrators.

Those starring on the Emmy-winning show include William Peterson (Dr. Gil Grissom), Laurence Fishburne (Dr. Ray Langston), Gary Dourdan (Warrick Brown), Ted Danson (D.B. Russell), Marg Helgenberger (Catherine Willows) and Elisabeth Shue (Julie Finlay).

From Legendary Producer Jerry Bruckheimer

jerry bruckheimer

CSI was originally produced by CBS Productions and Jerry Bruckheimer Television and aired for an incredible 15 seasons. Jerry Bruckheimer is known as the mega-producer behind Con Air, Armageddon, Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun, Bad Boys, Pirates of the Caribbean, and National Treasure.

The CSI Phenomenom

CSI was CBS’ most successful series at the time with the highest ratings. It received positive reviews from the critics and won six Primetime Emmys Awards. There were three CSI spin-off series, a book series, several video games, plus an exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. When it was eventually canceled in 2015, CSI was the seventh-longest-running scripted US primetime tv series.

Even the show’s theme song was made even more popular than it already was before CSI; The Who’s “Who Are You”.

The CSI Effect

However, CSI got a lot of criticism from public officials and law enforcement for its depiction of crimes and graphic content.

It’s widely become known as “The CSI Effect.” Many attorneys, judges, and even journalists have said watching programs like CSI has caused jurors to acquit guilty defendants when no scientific evidence has been presented. The claim is that CSI makes evidence gathering look a lot easier than it really is.

A judge wrote about “The CSI Effect” for the National Institute of Justice; one attorney saying jurors now expect a DNA test for just about every case. Jurors expect the most advanced technology possible. They want it to look like it does on TV.

Show creator Anthony E. Zuiker didn’t think it was a bad thing, telling CBS News, “‘The CSI Effect’ is, in my opinion, the most amazing thing that has ever come out of the series. For the first time in American history, you’re not allowed to fool the jury anymore.”

How To Watch CSI

The ongoing popularity of CSI helped give rise to the true crime explosion, and then it came back around full circle. The obsession with so many true crime series prompted CSI: Vegas, a follow-up to the long-running series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It’s now in its third season and fans will see familiar faces like Helgenberger and Petersen.

If you’ve never seen CSI, you can watch it all now on Disney+. It’s available in the Hulu section of Disney+ which is still in beta and requires subscriptions to both services to access.