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'CSI: Cyber': Slow start, but bright stars

FBI Special Agent Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette) and

FBI Special Agent Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette) and her team analyze hacked baby monitors in a string of infant abductions in "CBS's CSI: Cyber." Photo Credit: CBS Entertainment

THE SERIES "CSI: Cyber"

WHEN | WHERE Premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. on CBS/2

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Special agent Avery Ryan (Patricia Arquette) heads the cyber crime division of the FBI. The key member of her team, agent Elijah Mundo (James Van Der Beek), is an expert in battlefield forensics -- which is to say he's an expert at video games. The rest of her A-team are Brody (Shad Moss), an ex-hacker she's trying to reform; Daniel (Charley Koontz), the resident tech nerd; and Raven (Hayley Kiyoko), the social-media maven. And watching over this assortment of high-tech crime fighters is assistant director Simon Sifter (Peter MacNicol). CBS says "CSI: Cyber" is "inspired by the advanced technological work of real-life cyber psychologist Mary Aiken."

MY SAY "CSI: Cyber" is what's known as "critic-proof," meaning any rain that any professional watcher cares to dump on its parade will evaporate within the hour. "CSI: Cyber" will probably be a hit. Resistance, or rainmaking, is futile.

This is all about big stars -- two in particular -- and familiarity and comfort. It's also about "CSI," the sturdiest three letters in the prime-time TV alphabet. If cliches must be deployed, or logic shredded, or encrusted TV tropes launched in the service of this newcomer, then we'll just have to deal with it.

But there is reason for optimism. Arquette is a wonderful actress -- you may have heard she won an Oscar last week for "Boyhood." Then, there's Van Der Beek, who's made some fitful stops and starts to get that long-awaited post-"Dawson's Creek" second-act under way. "CSI: Cyber" feels just about right for him. Square of jaw, he looks like a guy named Elijah Mundo, but he also seems like the sort of guy who would be the first to laugh at the name. His sense of humor feels intact here, and that's probably the best sign of all.

Wednesday night's launch is underwhelming, or maybe the better word is overfamiliar. But the same team behind "CSI" is here, and unless they are hopelessly jaded, they'll get this rolling before long. In the meantime, grab the umbrella.

BOTTOM LINE Name aside, "Cyber's" pokey and old-fashioned, but the leads are the big draw. Expect improvement.

GRADE C+

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