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CSI returns to form in season 12
on July 1, 2012
CSI is the long-running CBS procedural drama about a group of crime scene investigators in Las Vegas. The show was a big hit for most of it's run and eventually became one of the most watched TV shows in the world. However, the show had to go through some changes after original star William Petersen left midway through season 9. They brought in film star Laurence Fishburne as the new lead and the transition appeared to go smoothly. However, I think most fans can say the show eventually went into a rut creatively and viewership started to drop in seasons 10 and 11. It was no longer the top show on Thursday nights. After Fishburne decided to leave after a low rated season 11, CBS brought in long-time TV star Ted Danson as the new lead. He played DB Russell, the new night supervisor and a former Seattle CSI. Honestly, after I heard that Danson was cast, I wasn't in love with the choice. But, to my suprise, Danson brought new life to an aging show. I think the Russell character added some fun and quirkiness that had been missing in the Fishburne years and I think he gelled immediately with the cast. I also think some of the stories in season 12 felt really fresh and the cast appeared rejuvinated. The show also made the move to Wednesdays at 10pm and ratings were up. It performed quite well against Law and Order SVU and was neck to neck with the new ABC drama Revenge for the top spot in the timeslot.
Unfortunately season 12 also marked the final season for long-time star Marg Helgenberger, who played CSI Catherine Willows. Helgenberger left the show midway through season 12 and I think the writers did the character justice and gave Catherine a proper and memorable sendoff. The Producers managed to work their magic once again and brought in veteran actress Elisabeth Shue as Marg's replacement. She played CSI Julie Finlay, a former colleague of Russell's who has a conflicted past with him. I also think Shue gelled right away with the cast and made the transition very smooth.
I'm not going to go into lots of details about the plots in season 12. I will say this, it's a solid, well-crafted season and they utilize Danson and Shue really well. There's a few multi-episode arcs and a very exciting cliffhanger to wrap up the season. If you haven't seen season 12 yet, I highly recommend it.