'CSI' season premiere: Ted Danson, warm and wily, takes over; Catherine prepares to leave

The white hair that Ted Danson brought into CSI’s analysis lab on Wednesday night gave off a glow that shed some new light on what had been an increasingly gloomy, glum series. His new character, D.B. Russell, with his laid-back rhythms, addresses the main problem with CSI in recent years: Its plot formula has been overrun by the lugubrious problems of its cast. A stark contrast to the melancholy man Laurence Fishburne was asked to portray, Danson enters a crime scene with a vigor verging on jauntiness.

At this point, you either become engaged by the case-work the CSI team performs or you’re tired of it. (For me, the percentage is about 50/50, and gone are the days when the show could surprise us with the oddness of what-stays-in-Vegas behavior.) What we’re left with to enjoy (or not) are the interactions of the team.

Here is where Danson became an immediate help. His D.B. may, as he put it, “like to think of myself as an easy-going guy,” but it was also clear from his sharp exchange with George Eads’ Nick about work habits that D.B. has his standards… and maybe an agenda: That ominous line, “I like Nick — I’d hate to lose him,” hung in the air.

The hour also prepared us for the upcoming departure of Marg Helgenberger’s Catherine. Bitter about being “demoted,” she was trying to convince those around her, and us, that no amount of Danson/D.B. charm is going to make her stay. (The dissatisfaction of the character so closely coincided with the slide into tedium of the Ray Langston era, it made me wonder: Did Helgenberger tell the producers she was leaving before Danson was cast, and might she have some regrets about that decision now?)

You could say that CSI has never really recovered from William Petersen’s exit, and you’d probably be right. But now, I’m going to keep tuning in to see how D.B. Russell messes with the CSI chemistry. Will you?

Twitter: @kentucker

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  • Tanya

    Heck yeah! Stopped watching the show after Peterson left, but I will be watching again now that Danson is on board. He’s an amazing actor. Can’t wait to see how he shakes up the team.

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    • Grumpster

      CSI=Can’t Stand It.

      • Brenda

        @Grumpster…. Well may we suggest that you don’t watch then. That is why you have multiple channels on your tv. I thought Ted was a welcome change. And I for one will not miss looking at Marg’s disgusting lips. Just don’t understand why women do that to themselves.

      • kkpete

        i thought i was the only one who thinks her lips are weird! hers and the lady from In Plain Sight.

  • UGH

    I like Danson but he seems a little too grandfatherly for the role.

    • jennifer

      I kind of agree. Love Danson though.

    • Jander

      On the bright side: If you weren’t so hot, he wouldn’t have that problem.Yes, you can tug on his testies a little to back him down. Or you can also practice taking him just to climax and then stop for a few seconds before it happens and let the feeling pass, then resume, then stop, etc., etc. You should notice that he will eventually learn more control. You can have some fun with it.Also, to help you, he should try a little foreplay to get you well on your way as well.Good luck.

  • Bruce Whitewood

    I hope this will be the final season.
    It has some positive qualities but they are really dragging it on now and are treating audiences like idiots if they expect us to watch a series where the writers are just making it up as they go along with no idea of how to end it.
    They should have made it shorter but better written and they could have ended it by now.

  • Michael

    I take it back futhar then that the show has not recover from the William Petersen’s Jody foxer character hook up thats when the show went down hill think about all the horrible things that has happen since.

    Warrior Brown death William Petersen’s leaving and now Helgenberger Let face the fact the show was Damaged seasons ago

    • Rock Golf

      Michael, Spellcheck is not your friend on character names.

  • Diane

    Stopped watching with Laurence Fishburne’s character, which is odd since I like Fishburne as an actor. I’m kind of excited about what Ted Danson will bring to the show

  • caroline

    I miss Grissom and have only been a sometimes watcher since his departure. I’m curious about DB and will give them a shot. Nothing against Helgenberer personally – I never really liked the Catherine character. Where Grissom had strenght and a quite charm – Catherine was like finger nails on a chalk board. She tired to hard proving herself to the men in the field and less doing her job.

  • Sara

    I liked the premiere. It seemed lighter than usual, and it also brought up a lot of issues I’ve had with the team in the last few season (they basically do what they want, they have a very relaxed work ethic, think with their heart and not their head) so I’m happy to see those issues get worked out. And I’m also happy that they don’t just smooth over Langston’s vendetta with ‘oh ray left, but everything else is back to normal’. Good to see repercussions.

  • Terry

    It’s baaaack. And I loved it. Didn’t think I’d like Ted coming in, but what a breath of fresh air. And Marg, you need better acting and less of how do I look. Can’t wait for next week.

  • Jennifer

    I think it is a little ominous that Ted Danson’s character targetted Nick. For many seasons Nick has been the moral compass of CSI, while Catherine did whatever (Taking money from gangster Dad, and the whole story line with Liev Schriber) she has been less than ethical. She should have been demoted years ago. Nick has been burried alive, resisted killing the unders sheriff who killed Warwick, etc. I think he is the strongest one, and Ted Danson is a control freak so to gain control he has to break Nick.

    • J.Norman

      I don’t think the idea is to “break” Nick.
      Nick’s morality is very selective on the show. He either is on a vendetta or he tries to be -as mentioned in the show – a social worker. Russell just needs to reign him in a bit in the manner that Grissom was able too. Catherine gave him way too much slack.

  • GHB

    Ted Danson brought a little humor back into the show, which had been missing recently. Fishburne is a great actor, but he just brought the show down to a really depressing state.

  • Lou

    I have been a fan of CSI since it started, but after seeing Ted Danson in the lead role, my CSI watching is over. Laurence Fishburne was way, way better

    • J.Norman

      That’s your opinion which is fine, but I think you’ll find that you are way in the minority on the position that Langston was a liked character.

      • nance

        I agree with Lou. Fishburne was intense, but he was interesting. You don’t have to ‘like’ someone to watch them. I didn’t like the premiere. Too slow, too much scolding, Eckley daughter too predictable. I have been a fan since the beginning, but I think my TIVO will be the only one watching at my house.

      • SandyLB

        I enjoyed the Langston character, but will probably not miss him too much. My only regret is that I feel the character was written off before all of his “inner demons” were throughly vetted, i.e. the DNA from his father that he felt lent to his “dark” side, and contributed to the downfall of his marriage and his previous medical career. We never really heard too much about the father in specifics, just a lot of beating around the bush. I don’t feel that even the “Ned” story line brought all of Langston’s demons to the fore.

  • debbiew

    I’ve never watched the show, but I can commiserate. I lost interest in “E.R.” when Mark Greene died and stopped watching when what I call “the grown-ups” (Kerri, Dr. Romano) left.

  • jeff

    I’m probably the only person who liked Fishburne and likes Danson. The Fish brought a hard edge to the show and just seemed more action oriented (vs. Grissom’s sleepy scholarly boredom).

    • Floretta

      No you’re not. I like both (and Grissom of course). They’re just different styles. Fishburne had the gravitas; too soon to tell what mix of gavity and levity, so to speak Danson will bring but I like the way he worked with the boy on the subway, and the fact that he has family.

  • Amanda

    Taking things an episode at a time.

  • jfms777

    I just wonder if “CSI” and “L&O:SVU” will now kill each other off, since they are on at the same time. Something tells me “Revenge” will be a hit because it is different from CSIL&O:SVU.

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