CSI: NOT CLUELESS
May 16, 2001
“CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is the sleeper show for the 2000-2001 television season. An intelligent show, CBS had originally programmed it on Friday nights at 9:00 p.m., where it did well. But, when “Survivor: The Australian Outback” premiered, CBS moved its little-show-that-could to Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. to follow the reality show. It was a truly inspired decision. “CSI” kicked ratings butt in its new time slot, and as of the May 15 ratings press release issued by CBS, “CSI” has won its time period for its last 11 Thursday broadcasts. ET went behind the scenes for an exclusive look at the filming of the show’s season finale.
“We like to be the water-cooler show,” admits “CSI”‘s female lead, MARG HELGENBERGER, who stars in the hour drama along with WILLIAM PETERSEN. “The science took everybody by surprise. People really gravitate to the informative nature of the show.”
In addition to starring in “CSI,” Petersen is one of its executive producers, which means he puts in even more time than the 12-15 hour days of his fellow cast members. He recently commented on what makes the show work for him.
“I wanted to do this show with CBS and JERRY BRUCKHEIMER because it was an opportunity for me to learn stuff, and I figured if I could learn stuff, then I would be thrilled by the show each week. It’s a hard grind and I knew that going into it, and it is.”
“This is the new world of crime solving. These are the guys that are going to put people away and also get people off over the course of the next 25 years. The criminalist is completely different than what we are used to in terms of homicide detectives. Technology has taken us to this place. These guys are really special individuals that do this. And we’re just not aware of them. We know they exist. It’s just that they were never covered because nobody thought that a fingerprint would be interesting. By figuring out how to shoot a fingerprint, how to see a hair fiber or carpet fiber — that was the key. If we could figure out how to do that, then all of a sudden it could be thrilling on a visual level. And I think that the country knows this is a vernacular they’re going to have to learn if they want to figure out what’s going to happen in their courts. And so, I just think that it was absolutely the right thing.”
In addition to the joy of being part of a successful TV series, joining “CSI” has affected the lives of the cast in ways they hadn’t expected. GEORGE EADS jokes that he now knows “a lot of four syllable words,” but it is more than that. The show has been a real learning experience for all involved.
“I always think in terms of forensic evidence,” admits Marg, who won an Emmy for her role as K.C. on “China Beach.” “There is always something in the newspaper about DNA. (Recently) in The New York Times, a 15-year-old rape conviction was overturned because the chemist had given them the wrong person’s semen. So now they have to retry something like 3000 cases in the state of Oklahoma. It is fascinating.”