CSI, the Original and the Reboot (My Review)

Nothing is truly gone.

After 15 seasons and 337 episodes, multiple awards and cast changes, and three spinoff series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is back as CSI: Vegas. What’s old is new again.

I watched the original for about first five seasons. The science and great visual look was exciting and pulled the viewer into the stories. Las Vegas was an interesting location for the series. The scientific techniques and gadgetry used in investigating crimes was fascinating to me. Each episode showed us something new to solve very unusual crimes.

Follow the evidence.

Of course there were CSI spinoff shows, and the original series lasted 15 seasons. CSI popularized criminalistics and set the bar high for the work of real life crime lab investigators and technicians. Not everything shown on TV could be replicated in reality, and most jurisdictions did not have their own labs of multi-million dollar equipment.

Gil Grissom was my favorite character on CSI. He was a science nerd, laidback and not focused on human drama. Although he did allow himself to fall for Sara Sidle, his co-worker. When the Grissom left the series, so did I.

So, when I learned the original series was coming back, and the Grissom and Sidle characters were include, it peaked my interest. The series premiered in October 2021, with ten episodes. I did not watch; I cannot remember why, I just did not.

Sidle and Grissom

Skip ahead to Spring 2022, I heard that William Petersen would not be returning as Grissom for season two. Then, Jorja Fox announced that she would not return either. She felt the Grissom and Sidle characters should not be split, so they would both be gone from the series. Huge disappointment for me.

A couple of weeks later, I was browsing my neighborhood library and saw the DVDs for the first season of CSI: Vegas. I brought it home and watched the ten episodes over two days.

CSI was always a very visual show. That’s an understatement. From the look of the sets to the creative use of computer animation to take the viewer inside the body to show bullet damage and blunt force injury, and visual recreation of crime scenes. It was impressive back in 2000, and even those early episodes are still dazzling.

The story arc for season one of CSI:Vegas begins with an attempted murder of the retired police captain Jim Brass. That’s tied to the implication of former CSI lab technician David Hodges faking evidence on past cases and potentially jeopardizing thousands of past convictions. This brings Grissom and Sidle back to help unravel this mystery.

The CSI lab is now run by Max Roby, a former college basketball point guard, and PhD geneticist. Main CSI investigators are Josh Folsom and Allie Rajan; young, good-looking, single characters who seem as though they will eventually have a romantic relationship. The chief medical examiner is the older, experienced Dr. Hugo Ramirez, who apparently won’t return for season two. I got the impression this character probably had a very different private life of painting and salsa dancing. We will not find out.

The 2021-2022 cast (Mel Rodriguez not pictured)

The main story arc has Grissom, Sidle and Roby working to find the truth behind the allegations against Hodges, who is arrested and has a fast-track trial. The clock is ticking to ramp up the drama. Each episode also has a “crime of the week” to be investigated and solved. The Hodges story veers toward melodrama, although it does beat the clock in its resolution. Strangely, the Jim Brass character quickly disappears from the story.

The cases in each episode are quite good, I would expect no less. Story construction has always been a strength of the creative team. Even though all the CSI series are inherently visual, it all begins with the writing. The series continues to be produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Television, and Anthony Zuiker, the creator of the original series. CSI:Vegas was adapted by executive producer Jason Tracey.

Grissom and Sidle came back to be helpers, and since Petersen did not intend to stay past season one, the producers kept his association loosely constructed. Petersen remains as an executive producer on the show.

Will this version of the series last 15 years? Likely not, that’s a rarity. If NCIS can last more almost 20 seasons, and the original Law & Order is back, anything is possible.

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