All season, television ratings have declined for shows, or been very low for new programming. Nowadays, even shows that still have great ratings do not hit the highs of previous ratings powers like Dallas, M*A*S*H or Cheers. Nowadays, it is even a rare thing when viewership for a show goes over 20 million. Therefore, with those standings, and in this down climate for TV, it is more impressive to have CSI have those high ratings as they begin their new era.
The December 11 episode of CSI was a big winner in the ratings department, mainly because it marked the beginning of the end for star William Petersen, and the beginning of the tenure of Lawrence Fishburne. Petersen’s Gil Grissom is due to leave the show in January, when Fishburne will become the new big name of the CSI team.
Fishburne was announced as the new CSI cast member months ago, after Petersen announced his departure. Petersen had left for a brief stint in a play in 2006, with his spot filled temporary by Leiv Schreiber. But this time, Petersen is off for good, at least as a CSI regular.
Though every CSI fan knew this day was coming soon, the show itself didn’t address Gil Grissom’s upcoming exit until this week’s episode, when he announced it to his team. The impact of Grissom’s announcement takes up the focus of the episode along with the case-of-the-week, with Fishburne having a more supporting role as he is set up to join the team.’
When Fishburne was announced as the new CSI regular, rumors started swirling around about how intense his character, Professor Ray Langston, would be. Some even speculated that he might share traits with serial killers. But Fishburne’s character is not a killer, just someone a bit more in touch with his emotions than Grissom.
Fishburne will not join CSI to take over the team, as Grissom’s job as supervisor will be given to series regular Catherine instead. But Fishburne’s Professor Langston will presumably have his own valuable help to share- both for the team and for the fans that will be waiting to pounce if Langston is no Gil Grissom.
So far, at least ratings wise, the final days of Gil Grissom and the arrival of Fishburne are working. CSI is still a ratings champion, but hadn’t cracked the 20 million viewers mark since September. In this current TV climate, not even high rated shows are safe from a slight decline.
But this week’s episode gave CSI big headlines again, with Petersen’s final episode as a regular likely to do more. That landmark CSI will air on January 15.
Entertainment Weekly- “Ratings: Laurence Fishburne pushes ‘CSI’ over 20 million” hollywoodinsider.ew.com/2008/12/ratings-laurenc.html
Seattle PI- “Fishburne on the CSI Scene: Four Things You Need to Know” seattlepi.nwsource.com/tvguide/391639_tvgif11.html