“One to Go”
January 15th, 2009
The amount of times that I have stopped in to check on CSI has been slim in the years since I stopped paying much attention to the show – yes, there have been various character exits, numerous serialized storylines, and intriguing plots, but my Thursdays are chock-full enough as it is. But what I’ve gathered in my relative ignorance is that the show remains by far the most effective of the franchise, demonstrating character-driven storylines and weathering cast changes with subtle precision.
But the exit of Gil Grissom is a whole different story: while other exits felt like they were part of the ebb and flow of television procedurals, a changeover we deal with because Law & Order taught us to. But the loss of someone whose presence has always been the most central, whose calm and cool demeanor defined the very premise of CSI? This is an entirely different scenario, a watershed moment for the show’s durability and more importantly its ability to bring in a new lead actor.
In what is Gil Grissom’s final stand, his team has to band together to give him one last victory while at the same time getting used to seeing Laurence Fishburne walking the halls of CSI with his own brand of case solution. While the first half was defined by Grissom’s attempts to speak to and understand a notorious serial killer, the second half lets Grissom solve the case, along the way using many of his unique methods and saying goodbye to the people around him, while letting Dr. Raymond Langston be the one who faces off with the Dick and Jane killer.
The result is a rude awakening for Langston, and a solemn and fitting goodbye foor Grissom – it sets one up to want to try harder, and the other a chance to leave on good terms. The handling of the switchover is another reason why, if I’m stuck in a hotel room in the middle of the day with nothing else to watch tomorrow, a Spike TV rerun of CSI will continue to be a solid option even after Grissom is long gone.