MEAN TO ME: WHY CSI KEEPS PUTTING POOR MARG THRU “HELL-GENBERGER”
New York Post
October 5, 2006
by Stephen Lynch
Nothing but bad news for “CSI” beauty Catherine Willows these days.October 5, 2006 — Catherine Willows – the sexpot scientist on “CSI” – has been drugged, nearly date-raped, hit by a car, watched helplessly as her daughter was kidnapped and cradled her father’s dead body after he was gunned down in the street.
And that’s only in the first two episodes this season.
But it’s nothing new for Willows, played with a sardonic seen-it-all smirk by Marg Helgenberger. The only character more tortured on television is whoever Jack Bauer dates on “24.”
When we first met Willows, she was a former stripper-turned-criminologist trying to make ends meet as a single mom. Six years later, she’s still single (after catching at least one boyfriend cheating), is dealing with a troubled teen (because she’s never around to take care of daughter Lindsey) and has investigated her own ex-husband’s murder (which they couldn’t prosecute because of evidence problems).
That’s on top of the whole my-father-is-really-a-criminal-mastermind storyline.
What do the writers have against this woman?
Nothing, really, says Naren Shankar, co-executive producer of “CSI.” Being a procedural drama, they rarely deal with a character’s personal life – especially boring scenes of domestic bliss. A few episodes a year may deal with Willows’ troubles, but each incident “tends to take on outsize importance.”
“When you string it all together, she does seem Job-like,” Shankar admits with a laugh.
The trials of Catherine are in many ways a compliment, Shankar adds, since she gets the most backstory. Willows is “the only parent among the bunch, she has a weird relationship with her dad, she’s unique.” The producers also are fans of Helgenberger, and enjoy giving her powerful scenes.
For those who hope Catherine Willows isn’t perpetually tied to the railroad tracks, there could be some hope. A flirtation with co-worker Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) that went nowhere may flame up again, Shankar hints.
But fans shouldn’t expect rainbows and lollipops. After all, actors love tragedy – and crying over the bloody body of your shady dad, or applying a rape kit to yourself screams Emmy.
Helgenberger “did an amazing job,” Shankar says. “The first episode had almost 10 minutes of silence where you read everything on her face. It’s such a great performance.”