I’ve been a big fan of the CBS TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation since its first season back in 2000. Hard to believe it just began its 15th season. The show still has life, but let’s be honest: nothing lasts forever. I’m reminded of those last few seasons of ER. I checked out of ER before its final season because I felt the series went on too long. I was no longer watching the show out of interest. I was watching as some sort of perfunctory duty as a fan from the beginning. It’s not like that with CSI, for me. My fear is, if they go too long, it will become like that.
In its own way, CSI was trailblazing. It was the first mainstream TV series to use Las Vegas as its backdrop; probably the first since the Robert Urich drama, Vegas. CSI’s popularity and producers’ liberal use of Vegas as a character in the show spawned a new era of Vegas-themed television programming across the dial. CSI also truly pioneered darker, more graphic drama that we weren’t used to seeing on network television. True, no crime lab in America is more shadowy than CSI’s, but it sure makes for dramatic cinematography on the small screen. For fun, go check out Season 1 vs. today. The difference is quite something.
As with any long-running TV show, the cast has almost completely turned over from its debut season. To be fair, it’s a good group. I’ve enjoyed Ted Danson’s turn on the show. That being said, sometimes it’s best to wrap things up before you get pushed off the stage. And I fear CSI is getting close to being pushed from the stage by its network.
I don’t think CBS is going to cancel CSI this season, but the show’s been moved to its third timeslot in about five years. It used to be the Thursday night anchor of CBS’ dominant lineup. It was then moved to Wednesday night for a couple seasons, and now it’s airing Sunday nights. These are not bad slots, mind you, but it’s becoming evident CBS isn’t sure what to do with it anymore. The show that spawned two successful spinoffs—all using songs by The Who as their themes—is now shuttling around, looking for a home, long after its spinoffs quietly bowed.
Of course, all is not lost for the venerable CSI franchise. It will launch its third spinoff in 2015, CSI: Cyber. Nevertheless, I wonder how long its parent series can last. In fact, I was just wondering that last night and wondering how they’re going to wrap up this series. After so many years of pretty incredible, addictive drama, how do they end the series without enraging the fans?
Which brings me to the point of all this yammering: last night, I sketched out what I think would be the best, most fitting finale for CSI.
It all starts with the opening scene of the first episode of the final season.
Open to an overhead shot of a line of black cars and limousines pull into a cemetery. It’s a bright, sunny, Las Vegas day. People dressed in black (we don’t really see any faces) are gathering graveside as pall bearers pull a casket out of a hearse. We only see their black suits and their gloved hands. Soon, we begin to see familiar faces of people standing and seated graveside. Catherine Willows, looking sullen, wearing dark sunglasses, sits with an equally stricken Sara Sidle. Nick Stokes. D.B. Russell, Sanders, Eckley, etc. Even Ray Langston is there. What we don’t know is who is in the casket. Who’s funeral is this that would bring former CSIs back to Las Vegas? As the funeral continues, the camera pans to another attendee: Gil Grissom.
[FADE TO BLACK]
FADE IN….”Six months earlier…”
And the opening season of Episode One of the final season begins.
That funeral scene is a prologue that will foreshadow this final season, culminating in the two-hour series finale that will bring Grissom back to Las Vegas to help solve one more crime. One word: Sqweegel. And oh yeah, something will happen once again at the annual Plushies Convention and the CSI gang is forced to investigate. That’s all I’m going to say for now. But I have a framework in my head of what I’d like to see in this finale.
And I already know who dies.