Tuesday, July 19, 2011

CSI, Where Everybody Knows Your Name

In the past, CSI has gone out of their way to make sure a semi-well known television or movie star steps into their main roles, whether it be the flagship show or other spin-off franchises, and the latest hire is no exception. Television veteran Ted Danson, who starred in the popular show Becker, and the even more popular Cheers will be starring in place of Laurence Fishburne, who was starring in place of William Peterson. Since Fishburne’s departure was somewhat of a surprise, the network had to act fast to secure a strong replacement, and looks like when under fire the executives in charge can pull off a Hail Mary.

Even though Danson hasn’t really been lighting up the silver screen on a break-neck pace over the last few years, he’s still been showing up here and there in TV shows, including a recurring role as himself on Curb Enthusiasm, which opened its eighth season with their highest rated show in seven years. Also, it’s not like he’s desperate for a show, he could live off his resume easily for the next hundred years. Either way, he’s a solid pick up for a show that was seemingly on the outs.

Ted DansonImage by tobin.t via FlickrWhat’s puzzling about this pickup is why Ted Danson would want to do this. Certainly CSI is a contemporary television staple, but they garnered their worst ratings for a season finale ever this past May, and have been in a steady decline since William Peterson left. Laurence Fishburne, whose popularity came from the movie The Matrix, had little effect on the ailing show. Also, Ted Danson is pretty busy as far as former television stars go. Most actors who star in a show for several years don’t do much after the show’s demise, save for a few exceptions. (See Jennifer Aniston) However, Ted Danson has really solidified himself as a constant worker and a consummate professional in every role. In addition to Curb Your Enthusiasm, he has also recently appeared as a regular on HBO’s Bored to Death, and on the show Damages.

My opinion is that Ted Danson was looking for something fun and easy to do. Almost like a retirement situation. CSI, given its formula and less-than deep characters, is like a version of Florida for television actors. Either you go there early in your career like spring break or you go there after years of hard work to relax like retirement.