CSI San Diego
Did the headline get your attention? It may come as a shocker considering that the CSI franchise has shed both the New York and Miami editions of the series, but the theoretical end of the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation series is upon us. This past Sunday, we were treated to the stitching up of the near farcical Gig Harbour Killer season arc, and more importantly we got to see Nick Stokes leaving the Las Vegas office to take over in charge of the San Diego crime lab.
George Eads, who plays Nick Stokes, has made it clear that he is leaving the series. Well, almost. CSI Executive Producer Don McGill made sort of what was a cryptic comments about Eads / Stokes leaving the show: “We always intended to give Nick an emotional and touching farewell, and one that also would leave the door open for Nick to come back, San Diego’s not too far from Vegas, so who knows?”. A few other clues starts some of the more passionate fans down the road to see what is hiding in the dusty corners of the CSI production offices to find out what is really going on.
First off, let’s deal with the current CSI character base. Finley has been injured in the conclusion of this season, and it’s been made clear that she’s in hospital and not responding mentally to treatment. So she’s effectively written off the series if they want. Ted Danson, while clearly enjoying being part of CSI and enjoying the fact that it’s made him relevant all over again in Hollywood seems to have been lost in the shuffle Even with the Gig Harbour deal all about his history, he has in fact been almost an absentee character this whole season. The power and quirk that he brought to his start on the show (the shuttle train episode in particular) has been lost by this years writing staff, and his character greatly diminished. There has been rumors that he too would leave the show at the end of the season, or perhaps more likely before the start of the next one.
We won’t even mention that CSI slid through the entire 15th season without replacing Jim Brass, and that the “lab rats” are down to the duo of Henry and Hodges. Clearly the show has been saving money in a very big way to get this 15th season done. Even Doc Robbins has been reduced to a bit player, and the fancy wound track graphics and such have all disappeared. In simple terms, the show has run out of money, staff, and… story lines germane to Las Vegas. Season 16 looks like an improbable deal, It’s almost impossible for them to replace 3 major characters in a single off season and not lose a lot of viewers. Fans don’t want to deal with “aw, not this sh-t again!” as the faces all change.
Really, all that is left of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is Greg and Sara. So play taps for it, this sucker is done.
However, just like any good serial killer story arc, this one has a potential neat twist in the wind. First off, you have the new CSI Cyber thing starting up in a couple of weeks. The episode Kitty with Patricia Arquette was one of the highlights of the last couple of seasons, a modern twist on the perhaps tired procedural that CSI had become. While it won’t get a full first season, it gets a 13 episode run as a sort of “proof of concept”. The results of that run will tell us the future of that spin off. It’s arrival however may tell us the future of the original CSI: Mid season replacement, 2016 – in a new location.
It might seem like a bit of a far fetched deal, but here’s how I read it. The relationship between Nick and Sara is powerful, the “shippers” often thought that they should have been the relationship and not Sara and Grissom. Greg is clearly the other key player here. So how does this play out? Well, in the closing episode, we already got introduced to at least one San Diego worker (younger guy), and Nick has taken the job. So cue the opening of CSI: San Diego, Nick’s the boss, has been for a couple of months, has a pretty good crew and all that, but he misses his favorite muses at least a bit. When one of the new staff dies/ quits / transfers / goes away, Nick moves to bring in Sara from Vegas. Fans would clearly go wild for this move.
A “new” CSI San Diego would be intensely cost effective. Almost all of the players would be new and would be on starter / baby step contracts, effectively cutting off two big salarasies (Danson and Shue) and midline expensive characters like the lab rats, Doc Robbins, and all of the other players in the lab. You can stock up with a bunch of new characters and let them play out, while keeping one or two established characters to get people to tune in and to give some feeling of comfort. The locations would be all new, and the types of cases as a result of the locations could shift as well. Moreover, because the entire production would be back in California, it’s quite possible that they could do a lot more location shooting and a lot less of the anonymous sound stage crap that has filled CSI the last couple of years.
My personal guess at this moment is that within the next couple of months, word will come out that CSI San Diego is a go, and that CSI Cyber will in it’s second season get the 20 episode run CSI was suppose to get this year, and CSI SD will pick up the 13-15 episodes to round out the season. I think it’s likely because while CSI has had pretty dull ratings this season, the single episode shows on a Tuesday night instead of a Sunday shot up to nearly 11 million viewers, clearly indicating that there is still interest in the show and it’s process. But in a world of declining income and declining value for syndicating re-runs, there is no way that CBS is going to continue to pay huge salaries for an established, long term ensemble cast show. Resetting the pay clock (and show circumstance) back to year 1 would be a way to pull this one out of the fire, keep the 10+ million viewers, and fix the bottom line for at least another 3 to 5 years.
So, would you tune into CSI San Diego?