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CSI doesn’t need Gil Grissom

CSI william petersenor: how the creators of Crime Scene Investigation managed to mend a sinking ship.

Sebastian’s back Guest-clacking for us again, taking a break from his Friday Night Lights commentaries.

Quick flashback: two years ago, Jorja Fox left the show due to her inability to reach a settlement in her contract negotiations. Everybody expected her to die under that car wreck of the miniature killer. Then, seven months later, in April of 2008, Gary Dourdan got busted in Palm Springs for drug possession. On top of that, William Petersen only appeared in a reduced amount of episodes. Then the news came that he would leave the show altogether in 2009, after about half of the ninth season. His replacement: Laurence Fishburne. “Morpheus” of all people.

Which pill would you have taken at that moment? Would you have given up and accepted your fate? Or did you believe?

To be honest, I was wary of Fishburne when I first saw him on the show. The “changing of the guards” in the multi-episode arc of how Grissom left the show and Fishburne’s alter-ego, Dr. Raymond Langston, joined the LV CSI team didn’t convince me. Was this best choice? Wasn’t it an even greater pity that Michael Keppler had to die instead of bringing him on as a new CSI?

Langston seemed weak. He seemed uninteresting. Catherine Willows as new lead CSI just bored me. And Hodges and his novelty shifted more and more into the background. I didn’t like these episodes. They seemed bland, not worth my attention. I kept watching out of habit.

But last week was the turning point for me. It was a Nick Stokes-centric episode and the formula wasn’t new. Flashbacks were used with the usual excellent CGIs – quick sun ups and downs. In-position shifts. Video morphing. All nicely done, I liked it. What made it gripping was the story. Of course it was the run-of-the-mill interwoven story of multiple murders with the final conclusion delivered in the third act. What made it good was George Eads, and I thank the creators and showrunners that they kept a hold on him when he had the same negotiation issues Jorja Fox had after Season Seven.

At the end of the episode, Nick Stokes felt guilty. He cried, and with that showed Fishbourne’s character what it does mean to be a CSI — again, nothing new to show the newbie how it feels to be a CSI — but yet again unique in the way they did it. What made it gripping was the lack of words, the understanding between two men who are both old enough to understand life and yet can’t avoid having their demons. It gave me perspective on my own life. It made CSI human again and it made me feel for the characters again, even more than when Grissom finally met Sidle in the jungle. The little nuances during the show, with Phillips’ (Dr. Robbins’ assistant from the morgue) donation towards Warrick’s son’s college fund, Grissom’s call on Stoke’s answering machine, and the birthday cake at the beginning of the show, CSI made me feel attached again. It made me reconnect more than for a long time and reminded me why CSI is the only of the three incarnations I’m still watching.

Compared to the two sequels, the original show is more intense, it connects more with the viewer. It doesn’t go over the top when it comes to the criminology technologies, it doesn’t have beauty queens as actors and all that is really polished is the CGI-work and not the faces of the actors. What they say has meaning, what they do has value. None of them needs to have a one-line before the opening credits and the shades are ON and they STAY ON.

Last night’s episode of CSI marks number 199. The bicentennial episode will air April 2nd and as it seems this show might just go on for another hundred. I for one will stick with it, because it makes me feel connected, and it reinvents itself without changing completely. Judging from the ratings, with reruns blowing the competition out of the water, I guess I’m not the only one who thinks CSI is a machine that will keep on going.

Photo Credit: CBS

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20 Responses to “CSI doesn’t need Gil Grissom”

March 13, 2009 at 3:54 PM

I stopped watching when they had the big “hop on pop” reveal and only stated watching again once Fox left. I could not stand the almost latent pedophile storyline that was Gil and Sidle.

I like Fishburne’s character, Langston. The character I am having trouble warming up to is Riley. I liked the character Sofia a lot more.

I am definitely glad the show runners learned their lesson from the split the team season and do not have Catherine playing the territorial shrew as the boss. That got old real fast.

March 13, 2009 at 4:14 PM

I agree completely. Up until the last couple of episodes I kept watching out of habit. The last 2 episodes have made me look forward to this show again.

I like Ray Langston and I am warming to Riley. I like that there was no big deal made when Riley joined. They just introduced her and let her grow.

March 13, 2009 at 7:50 PM

I agree. I couldn’t wait for Grissom to leave. As much as I liked Grissom, I felt that his moping because Sara left was ruining the show.

I do like Ray, but he is getting too much screen time – more needs to be given to the original characters. I for one really enjoyed last week’s Nick centric episode. It is a shame he is not given more storylines.

March 13, 2009 at 8:44 PM

I think George Eads proved himself as an actor in that episode and he worked with a herniated disc and was in pain for much of show. He’s a real trooper. I’m glad he stayed on.

I stopped watching CSI when Grissom and Sara got together, I could not stand the show after that. I lost interest in Gil Grissom because I just found him to be someone I couldn’t relate to.

March 14, 2009 at 12:28 AM

I watched the very first CSI on my birthday—I am happy viewers are sticking with this show but it is getting difficult for me to watch. What happened to Greg? Catherine has all but disappeared. The best of the season was Turn Turn Turn with George Eads last week. This week was some mixture of ER in a basement PCP lab with the two new guys who are so clueless I keep waiting for one to shoot the other (I can hope!!). I think the writers left for Costa Rica during the strike and never returned! There have been so many plot holes this season, I would be embaressed to put my name on a show as a writer (the fake FBI guy who had no fingerprints, then had fingerprints, the goofy one when Grissom went to see Natalie–or when he went to see Heather–What was going on with those?) I watch out of habit, but it may be easier to break unless this show gets back to its original well-written, wonderfully acted storylines!! I don’t want another CSI Miami or CSI NY, I want the original–never missed an episode in 9 years.

March 14, 2009 at 6:31 AM

the only reason i watch CSI is because George Eads is in it, and man, its about time somebody notices how good an actor he is. He is also SO FINE, I MEAN HOT, THAT SMILE.

March 15, 2009 at 9:13 AM

I completely disagree with this article. Other than his name, Fishburne does nothing for the show. His character is boring, as are Catherine and Nick. The writing is often overly sentimental and plot holes abound. They are trying too hard too make us like the new, and the old characters. Everyone eats together, cries together, and hugs each other. There is no interesting characters, conflict or controversy.
The lab rats are the only ones who I care about anymore. I miss Grissom and Sara, and even Warrick, and find the new show barely watchable. The ratings may seem okay now, but I think people are just trying it out. They can’t have guest stars like Taylor Swift every month. Watching the final episodes of ER and seeing the original cast make appearances reminds me of why I use to love that show, and I see CSI heading down the same road.

March 15, 2009 at 10:29 AM

I completely understand you. If all the hugging doesn’t work for you, then you are turned off by the show – and then plot holes and other things become annoying as well. CSI isn’t for everyone and of course there are ardent fans of William Petersen who got annoyed when he got together with Sarah, who couldn’t stand it when Grissom followed her into the jungle, and who simply stopped watching then.

Also I understand that some viewers might consider George Eads to play a whiny character. I mean he cried in the Quantin Tarantino double episode where he got buried, he cried here again – to me, that’s simply portraying emotions and I like that. Others consider this a weakness and don’t like it.

And I like the antics in the lab very much too – I would love to see more of that and honestly I hope that in the next hundred episodes there will be more Hodges on the show. There’s a reason why he’s in the opening credits now.

Opinions differ and it’s perfectly fine with me that you disagree :-)

Thanks for all the replies. I never got this many comments on one of my articles but I guess that’s easy when you write about something that actually attracts viewers (compared to FNL) :-)

March 15, 2009 at 11:29 AM

I don`t know… I miss Grissom, I miss Sara (without the H), I miss it when the show was actually interesting.

NThe big ratings were obviously only because Taylor Swift was guest starring. This week the ratings were back to “normal” a.k.a., lower than before Grissom left. It`s not that they`re doing a bad job, it`s that when Sara left, she left a Sara shaped hole that couldn`t be filled, same with Warrick, and of course with Grissom. Everytime an original cast member leaves (specially here where the cast chemistry was the glue that held the show together), part of the goodness (and the ratings) leaves with him or her, and the replacements are never quite the same. CSI is following the same path of ER, sadly.

March 15, 2009 at 2:22 PM

I love Laurence Fishbourne. I had actually never seen a thing he was in before CSI. But, I liked the way CSI wrapped the Grissom-Sara storyline, and thought I’d give version 2 a chance. They gave Grissom and Sara both a classy, complete happy ending, that both characters deserved. I totally disagree with anyone who feels there was something wrong, or “pedophilic,” about their relationship. Sara was definitely “of-age” when she met up with Grissom, and she was years ahead of her time on earth, in terms of life-experience and maturity. Two like minded people found each other and it was a unique, beautiful relationship.

As for CSI: Part 2, Laurence Fishbourne makes the show. He is new life, new blood and views this very tough job as almost a calling in life–a service. He’s viewing things without the jaded feelings that has become a part of some of the other characters. I love the lab rats, can deal with Catherine, don’t mind Nick–but he is NOT the heart of the show. I find his characterization a bizarre ping-pong game. On the one hand, he’s the “macho man,”–let’s go out there and do this for Warrick, Grissom…the world! And on the other, he’s crying, yet again–on the job. Honestly, I have never, ever seen a man cry at the workplace–even when spouses have been dying. So, it’s a bit jarring and used only, in my opinion, as a plot device to show that, along with taking names!, he is Mr. Sensitivity, as well.

The CSI I knew and loved with a ritualistic devotion left with Grissom and Sara, but I watch now and like it well enough as something to pass the time. And that’s mostly due to Laurence Fishbourne and some of the fine supporting characters. But, my total devotion ended with Grissom and Sara walking off into the Costa Rican sunset. So, yeah, IMO CSI definitely needed Gil Grissom. I don’t think William Petersen’s role in making this show unique and wonderful should ever, ever be downplayed. Right now, it’s just another procedural.

March 15, 2009 at 6:39 PM

I find CSI extremmly boring these days and the storylines have been so so. I find it hard to watch since Ray LF is in almost every scene and hogs all the screen time. I tune in to Watch Catherine, Greg and Nick. They have turned CSI into the LF or Ray Langston show which is so wrong. Last week tipped the cake at the end when Catherine hugged Ray what about Riley she was the one with the Black eye and cuts on her face. I guess if you are not the lead nobody cares about you.

March 15, 2009 at 8:33 PM

I am in total agreement with Gina here. It was must watcdh TV for 7.5 years and I hung on waiting for Grissoms happy ending. But what I have watched the past few episodes just are lacking, not only in character but the writing as well. It is getting very similar to Miami. More and more a CSI cop instead of science driven. I am just not getting into the Riley character and LF is a presence to be sure but I am not loving these two at all. They are not motivating me to watch as they are now. Ms. For and Mr. Petersen brought depth to the part they played. Fishburn and LLS have yet to contribute in this area.

March 16, 2009 at 5:54 PM

First of all, the situation with George Eads and Jorja Fox was after Season 4 NOT Season 7. They were both fired in July 2004; Ms. Fox’s situation was cleared up almost immediately due to a mistake in returning paperwork and she was rehired. Mr. Eads was not rehired for at the same time as Ms. Fox. And the reasoning for her leaving in Season 8 wasn’t just due to failed contract negotiations. She has stated in several interviews why she left when she did.

And in your reply above,

CSI isn’t for everyone and of course there are ardent fans of William Petersen who got annoyed when he got together with Sarah, who couldn’t stand it when Grissom followed her into the jungle, and who simply stopped watching then.

What about the many fans that WERE happy when Grissom and Sara (no “H” at the end) got together? That was a story line that has been played throughout the entire series. Jorja Fox was brought on to the show as a potential love interest for Grissom…it just took them years to get there.

I don’t, and probably never will, understand people who call the romance between Grissom and Sara ‘latent pedophile’. There was only what, a 14 year age difference? That’s nothing anymore, even on TV. Grissom NEVER portrayed himself as a father figure towards Sara. That’s just a copout because someone doesn’t like the character/actor. Petersen certainly never played the character like that or ever thought that. He was always very supportive of the storyline, as was Ms. Fox, and that can be supported in numerous articles and interviews.

I don’t consider men crying a weakness at all. But I don’t want to see a male OR female character on a TV show crying all the time. It just doesn’t appeal to me. I did enjoy the episode but not because of Eads’ performance. I thought Taylor Swift did a good job much to my surprise and the storyline was compelling. In fact, that was the first episode I watched in its entirety since Petersen left and one of only a handfull since Ms. Fox left. Those were the characters I enjoyed and the remaining cast just doesn’t hold much interest to me.

March 17, 2009 at 12:17 AM

I just love it when the GSR fans gather together and spam an article that doesn’t praise all things GSR. So sad really, they must have no lives.

March 17, 2009 at 7:41 AM

I agree,the GSR is finally over and it should stay that way.Thank goodness is all I can say!A man who was twenty years older than the woman,it had a feel of creepiness that I will never understand.

I think we are getting too much of Fishburne,he really does nothing for me and I never seen him act in anything else,now I know why,I would not of watched the whole thing,he just doesn’t have what it takes to keep a woman’s attention.(A fine body and good looks)He’s okay in that department,but not great.

I think the new team dynamics has room to grow,I would like to see more Nick and Catherine scenes,they have an onscreen chemistry,not in the love sense, but she has always been there for him,they are nice to see together.

Greg needs a little bit more time onscreen,he did well last week, and he is eye candy,for the old and young.

Riley is okay,she is growing on me and she did save their lives the other night,though we didn’t see her get her hug,only the main star gets the hug.

George is doing a great job and from what I read he is doing it in pain,herniated disc,possible surgery looming in his future,Wow,he is the man. His limp was very noticeable for the last two episodes,the pain in his face when he sits down. No wonder those tears came so easily,he has even stated he is in excruciating pain and getting epidural shots of steroids to ease the pain. He did do a great job with Turn Turn Turn,his tears were real man,they were great, He states in an interview he saw his father cry once,for a dead little girl,it was the only time he ever saw his father cry. He did great!

Where are you Catherine? I hear that May sweeps are going to be a Fishburne-Marg fest,I just hope they don’t leave out all the rest!

March 19, 2009 at 2:55 AM

Of course CSI doesn’t NEED Grissom, but he played a very very vital role, and had his exit not been planned precicely, the show would’ve been way off balance, and not have lasted. They waited until they knew it had taken off on its own and that each actor/actress contributed equally.

I don’t doubt I’ll see my favorite couple again in the future, just probably not this season.

CSI will outlast Friends!

P.S. – To the GSR haters:

See how many people hate GSR compared to those who love it!

March 19, 2009 at 2:56 AM

Of course CSI doesn’t NEED Grissom, but he played a very very vital role, and had his exit not been planned precicely, the show would’ve been way off balance, and not have lasted. They waited until they knew it had taken off on its own and that each actor/actress contributed equally.

I don’t doubt I’ll see my favorite couple again in the future, just probably not this season.

CSI will outlast Friends!

P.S. – To the GSR haters:

See how many people hate GSR compared to those who love it!

March 19, 2009 at 7:37 PM

Well we all know GSR had a clique going and well,the polls show 50/50 but I for one would have loved another type of relationship,Sara and Catherine,it would have been perfect! I still think it could happen if she returned,they would make the perfect television couple!

Grissom will return probably in an episode or two but I don’t think they should do that,I want Sara to break up with Grissom, come back to Vegas and have Catherine give her emotional comfort. Like I said, they are the perfect couple.

March 21, 2009 at 1:30 AM

Oh lord, GSR fans are nuts. Why do you have a website called Saving Sara Sidle when she left the show almost two years ago.
She’s gone, get over it.

March 20, 2009 at 9:43 AM

George is great,voted as one of the top ten sexiest men on television (woo-hoo!)He is coming into his own,all I can say is it is about time. He is awesome at making us feel what his character is feeling. I love his very sweet,gentleman manner.

I guess we have to accept that the others are gone or if it upsets you to a point of being hateful,then it might be best for you to stop watching. Bottom line are we going to watch or not? If so then quit complaining all the time.

The ratings are still winning its time slot and I would say if you checked the internet views of the show,those who are watching other things eventually come and watch CSI on the internet.

Let’s just enjoy the show.

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