Inside CSI: NY's Nearly-Silent Artist-ic Episode, What It Means for Flack, Mac and the Messers

CSI: NY Season 9 SpoilersTonight’s installment of CSI: NY (CBS, 9/8c) will reveal a whole new side to the long-running procedural: a silent one.

Written by executive producer Pam Veasey, the impactful hour — an homage of sorts to 2012 Oscar fave The Artist — explores the aftermath of a shooting at a political rally that leaves Lindsay badly injured. The first half of the investigation, however, is sans dialogue, and is instead narrated seamlessly by an array of songs from alt-rock band Green Day‘s current and forthcoming albums.

“I loved the challenge of writing this,” Veasey gushes to TVLine, adding with a laugh, “I felt like a rock star, honestly. I was just ‘hanging with Green Day.’ I had their music and I was writing my show!”

Here, Veasey shares even more details about the process of writing such a unique installment of the series, and reveals what developments stem from it for your favorite CSIs — Messers included.

TVLINE | Talk about writing an episode that, for nearly the entire first half-hour, is silent.
It was definitely more of a challenge than I had anticipated, because as a writer on procedural you’re so dependent on dialogue conveying the plot of the story. So, when I started, I realized that I really had to evoke emotion; I had to let the audience see something, feel something and get caught up in it so they wouldn’t miss the dialogue. That’s really what the [start of the episode] is all about, trying to figure out what [everyone] is thinking… And then when I moved to [writing] the second act, it was about what they were feeling. If I could get the audience to feel something, then they would take the ride with us.

RELATED | CSI: NY Serves Up ‘Fun’ Days Off, Temptation for Flack and… a New Li’l Messer?

TVLINE | How do you feel about your actors’ silent performances?
Our actors did tremendously. They just sold it! They really invested in conveying what they felt by using their face and their body language… They really sold: “I’m going to express what I would normally say by showing you how I feel.”

TVLINE | How did the decision to narrate the episode with Green Day’s music come about? And did the songs dictate the story or vice versa?
I already had a thought of what I wanted to write, script-wise, but I didn’t have the scenes written by the time I heard music. I called [CBS TV Studios’ SVP of Music] Amy Osler and told her that I wanted to only use music for the first half of an episode, but that I wanted only one band or solo artist who had an album coming out. I didn’t want the words to tell the story so specifically — I believe that visuals tell one part of the story, and the music tells the other; they don’t repeat each other. Then she told me that Green Day was interested and their albums, “¡Uno!” “¡Dos!” and “¡Tre!” were coming out, and as I listened some of the songs, it just clicked. But I didn’t listen to the lyrics and build a scene. Rather, I used the mood of the music to tell me the tempo of the scene.

TVLINE | I had no idea this concept was yours alone. Was there a specific inspiration?
We all enjoyed The Artist, so I wondered if there was a way to do that on television. When we were pitching to get CSI: NY picked up for another season, I said that we were going to do our tribute to that. And once we got picked up, I said I was going to deliver that. I certainly couldn’t assign that difficult task to anyone else — I pitched it, I was going to write it. [Laughs] So, it really was about writing a compelling story where the visuals and the storytelling, for lack of a better phrase, took your breath away. I wanted it to feel non-stop.

TVLINE | This episode touches on some heavy issues, namely gun safety. Why give the weight of that story to Flack?
Because I think you’d expect it to be a Mac story. [Laughs] In the ninth season you want to see different shades and different levels of the characters that you’d grown to know. You want to see him get angry about something… It was great to share that story with Don Flack. It’s not something that he anticipates; it happens before his eyes.

RELATED | CSI: NY Exclusive: Meet Lindsay’s Charmed Dad

TVLINE | We also learn in this episode that Mac is not as recovered from his shooting as we thought.
At the very end of last season — so that we could have a little bit of happiness and closure in case we didn’t come back [Laughs] — we jumped forward six months so that you knew Mac was fine. But when you get picked up, you say, “Should we tell a recovery story in a different way? Is there an aftermath to what he experienced?” Gary [Sinise] played this beautifully. Mac wants to face this challenge alone, so he’s not sharing the story with anyone… It was a perfect story in this episode because he’s alone in it. That was part of the theme.

TVLINE | And last but certainly not least, there’s the Messers. It’s a tough hour for Lindsay, but somehow there are still so many sweet moments for the fam.
We enjoy those moments. We’ve always done it, too, if you look back at their relationship and where it started. Their first interaction was a practical joke, where Danny was trying to get the upper hand on her. And there’s more to come! There’s so much more this season of their relationship. It’s not just being a work relationship, but them being a couple who’s really familiar, who share things, who laugh together, who are still in love, who contemplate the next step to their family. All of this is still ahead on the show. We write it because they’re great at it and the audience loves it… But we love it, too.

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  1. I’m actually kinda upset that a Lindsay kind of centric episode is silent. I am very, very focused on dialogue, and I’m not sure what to make of this. BUT, I’m letting it slide, because I know 9×08 will also be Lindsay-centric <3

  2. sarah says:

    I love this show and I hope it comes back again next season.

  3. Charissa says:

    Remember that time Joss Whedon was nominated for an Emmy for writing a nearly silent episode of television? Now THAT was awesome.

    • Meg says:

      Definitely. The guy deserves mad props and anyone who overlooks it because it’s “Joss Whedon” or “Buffy” is truly mad.

  4. Brina says:

    I agree completely with what was said about Danny’s and Lindsay’s relationship. It’s indeed wonderful to see them as a couple; married, in love, thinking about their family. Lovely!

  5. Haley says:

    So excited for tonight! Can’t wait. Thank you so much for this article and interview. Looking forward to what else is to come from the Messers and everyone else.

  6. King says:

    Gonna read this after the episode. This is kind of my “CSI: NY postmortem”

  7. Rhylee says:

    So excited to see this episode. Thanks for the scoop

  8. Daisy says:

    I’m looking forward to this episode and much more from the Messers. It’s great to see Danny and Lindsay more as a married couple and being in love! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful article with us.

  9. Juliab. says:

    Thanks for the great interview. I especially liked the fact we will get to see more of the Messers relationship this season. I’m also looking forward to seeing what is in store for everyone else too.

  10. Lisa says:

    Thank you so much for the article. Darn right we love their relationship! I am very much looking forward to tonight’s episode.

  11. Robin says:

    awww yay! 2…2 CSI:NY related news stories today wow! Impressed and super excited about PM’s last comment…but I am not sure hwo to feel about this “silient” part of an episode….we’ll see.

  12. Looking forward to this episode so much! And a really great interview!!! Thanks!!

  13. Liz says:

    Thanks for the interview! Love Danny and Lindsay and #CSINY

  14. Kim R says:

    I am watching the episode now and all I can say is they better start talking soon.:) I’m all for artistic expression but given the incidents that have gone on it is so unrealistic that no one is saying anything to each other. We’ve already lost my husband’s interest and it is only 20min. in. :)

    • Barb says:

      I agree!!!

    • suzi says:

      I disagree. Watching everything unfold in such an emotional way, I realized words weren’t necessary. I give the show credit for still looking for ways to be interesting, and for making me enjoy Green Day, which hasn’t happened in a whlie.

  15. For me it didn’t work, it was an enjoyable episode, but the beginning played like a veiled attempt at promoting Green Day’s new music instead of really focusing on the story. Throw in the increased volume of all the background noises, it wasn’t really very silent at all. If you want silent TV, watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s episode HUSH, that was silent TV done right!

  16. ShannonCat says:

    It took me 20 minutes before it hit me that this was a silent episode. It is that we’ll done. I had no clue they weren’t even talking. It was so easy to follow along. Then suddenly I was like whoa why aren’t they talking!!!

  17. donna says:

    I turned the channel after 20 mins. I dont care for greenday so it was a big distraction. I see alot of raves but wonder how many turned the channel without voicing opinion in social media. I think it was a way to promote greenway cd and trying to pass it off as some “fancy smachy artsy” of showing emotion. I wanted the detective procedural not 30 mins of music. I did not see this article and did not know it was going to be diff. So i was like why is the music so loud and no talking. This show is built on the charcaters brainstorming together with the viewer involved along the way. Just hated it and if it becomes a staple for more than a minute it two in future eps…i am done. They already hv enough music only sections of show.

  18. guest says:

    oops. I didn’t even notice. I did notice the great music though

  19. Lambsilencer says:

    I think it was a nice experiment, and it worked on many levels, but not all. There were some awkward moment with the Messer family, and the scene with Mac, Danny and Jo at the hospital where it just felt awkward that no one is saying something. The idea of the episode, and how it was structured, was probably to “film between the lines”, meaning, you cut it so that only the silent moments between the spoken words are shown. Often times it worked, sometimes, it just made things awkward.
    Other than the different artistic approach, it was a pretty tragic episode. I normally draw my line in terms of entertainment at the depiction of graphic violence against children, and I could have done without the explicit showing of Amy getting shot, in slow motion even. But the message about gun safety, and on further extent, falsely accusing someone and the (obviously misguided) consequences of it was loud and clear. Some might say that the teacher did cross a line by patting the girl twice on the leg after checking the wound, and with a zero tolerance towards any sort of “inappropriate” contact, it might have been worthy of a discussion, maybe. But how some people are determined to condemn anyone who might have done something inappropriate with a child >i>in their eyes , and the lengths they go to vilify that person, can be about as scary as a loaded gun lying around in a dumpster where children play nearby.

  20. hotshot says:

    Sorry, but I thought this episode was terrible. You can’t tell me that any Mom who loses her child in a crowd as Lindsey did is gonna keep silent – I’d be screaming my brains out for my kid! You also can’t say that Flack, finding a dying child, is not gonna yell for an ambulance and help! I agree with some here who thought the hospital scene was awkward at best. Mack, Danny, Jo and the baby gather at the hospital while Lindsey fights for her life – and say nothing? Puh-lease. There were just way too many scenes that demanded dialogue in this episode. No way was it ‘art nouveau’ – and I’ve been to the Louvre. Bon soire!
    I switched channels.

  21. Leon Magill says:

    Allow me to digress…I watched the CSI Rat Pack episode on Wednesday where the CSIs used an ap called “note seek” to detremine the album of a song. Does anyone know if that ap is real or just a fictional TV prop.

  22. Gail says:

    I love CSI NY but hated this episode. I was all excited when I selected it from my DVR but realized about 5-10 minutes what was happening and after suffering through another 5-10 minutes, I assumed it would be the entire episode and deleted it in disgust from my DVR. This is a crime-scene show, not a music video.