Tonight marks the debut of CSI: AWP–as is After William Petersen.
Petersen’s iconic character Gil Grissom took his leave last Thursday, with audiences flocking back to wave bye-bye. Nearly 2.6 million Canadians (out of simulcast, as CTV`s PR machine points out) and 24.25 Americans watched CSI at 8 p.m. last Thursday night, the crime drama`s biggest audience since Sept., 2007.
Will the show and, indeed, the entire CSI franchise continue to flourish now that Laurence Fishburne is in charge of the Vegas detachment? Marc Berman, Mediweek’s “Programming Insider,” who was in Toronto this week, believes it will. Critics everywhere keep asking when it too much crime too much on CBS and the answer seems to be that we haven’t reached that point yet.
Critics on press tour were treated to a CSI set visit last week, with Fishburne joined by several of the other cast members as well as the executive producers. That’s me in the morgue with Robert David Hall, who plays CSI chief medical examiner Doc Robbins, above. Hall has just won a 2000 Neon.
A man of great humour who has enjoyed trips to Toronto in the past to promote the CSI board game, Hall is also a double amputee and proudly serves on the board of directors of the National Organization on Disability. And, no, those are not his legs on the table.
We were told by the producers that Petersen wanted no fuss on the set to mark his departure. He`s still associated with the show, cashing a fat cheque each week as an executive producer. He may be back as Grisson in the future, but not this season, insists executive producer Carol Mendelsohn.
The TV crime lab is very high tech and state of the art, with companies donating DNA and ballistics machinery valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to dress the set. (The shame of it is that real crime labs can’t afford the goodies they see on CSI.)
Wallace Langham, the former Larry Sanders Show player, led the group I was in around the CSI set. He plays lab technician Hodges on the CBS drama. Another actor better known for comedy, Liz Vassey from The Tick, met us in the morgue. Vassey talked about last season’s dream sequence episode where each of the regulars wound up as stiffs on the slab. Staying perfectly still and not breathing for three minutes at a time is tough work, says Vassey.
‘Course, when I saw her I immediately pointed an accusing finger and said, “You killed the Immortal!`Yes, and I enjoyed every minute of it,`said Vassey, who clearly has had to deal with Tick fans like me all the time. As fans of the short-lived Fox comedy will recall, Vassey`s curvy Captain Liberty was simply too much for the so-called Immortal superhero in the sack. I can still see those two scorch marks on the ceiling where that last blast from his laser vision found their mark. Hilarious.
As much as many of us miss The Tick, Vassey has moved on. `Hey, it takes some of the sting away being on the No. 1 show on television,`she says.

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