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After years of being one of my favorite shows, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation sort of lost some of its luster for me last season.  And by CSI, I don’t mean CSI Miami, or CSI New York or CSI Okalona, or any of the other abominations that they pass off as television programming. I’m talking about the O.G. show… CSI Las Vegas.

The season premier, “For Warrick,” was the payoff to the “For Gedda” cliffhanger from last year’s finale that left Warrick Brown shot in an alley. And since it was a foregone conclusion that Gary Dourdan’s character would not survive, (due, it seems, more to Dourdan’s off the set antics than for story reasons,) the premier was less plot resolution and more a sad goodbye to Warrick. Particularly strong was William Peterson, who usually gives a very even keeled performance as Gil Grissom. His delivery of Warrick’s eulogy was particularly moving and was one of the few times we get to see Grissom’s emotional side. (As opposed to Nick Stokes, who seems to get emotional when the weather changes.)

It isn’t that I don’t enjoy the show any more. The writing is still as good as it ever was and the performances are still interesting. (Particularly Peterson, whom I have loved since Manhunter… the original Silence of the Lambs prequel. Damn you Ed Norton for remaking that movie!) But the show has hit that point in its run where it has started to coast on its success.  And there is no bigger sign than that Peterson, the show’s lead and the department’s leader, is leaving in episode 10 this season. Shows often lose actors and it isn’t always the kiss of death, but it really feels like the sharks are circling and The Fonz is revving up his bike.

But C.S.I. isn’t going down without a fight and to keep the show in the top 5, they are bringing in a heavy hitter… namely the heaviest hitter of them all, Ike Turner himself, Lawrence Fishburne, to replace Peterson as the head of CSI. Fishburne will show up in episode 9 as a permanent cast member. They are also finally replacing Jorja Fox, who’s character, Sara Sidel, left last season. Fans of Showtime’s “The L Word” will recognize, Lauren Lee Smith, who will be playing Bryce Adams, a character described by CBS as “a flirty and smart CSI who entered law enforcement to rebel against a controlling father.”

I’ll be interested to see what happens this season, because if anyone can save this show for me, it’s Morpheus.

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