‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,' airing Thursday on CBS
REASON TO WATCH: One of TV's great gumshoes, Gil Grissom (William L. Petersen), leaves - which qualifies as a genuine prime-time event.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: This episode wraps up the Dick-and-Jane Killer story line, which last month introduced Laurence Fishburne's Dr. Raymond Langston. He became part of the investigation when he held a teleconference for his entire college class with the killer from his jail cell. But The DJK (Bill Irwin, at his creepy best) has an accomplice on the outside. Another couple has been snatched, and tonight there's a race to find the killer before he dispatches another "Jane." Langston mulls an invite to join the CSI.
BOTTOM LINE: There's a wonderful scene - actually, one of several these past few months - where an earnest and impossibly nerdy Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) tells Langston about how the CSI team determined that only a certain type of moss grows on the north shore of Lake Mead. "This is what we live for," Sanders gushes. Pan to Grisson, who winces ever so slightly.
CBS and the "CSI" production team have set the stage for this departure so skillfully that we all know exactly what that grimace means. Grissom yearns for a life by the side of Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) and one beyond the grueling and soul-deadening life of a CSI. Thursday's story line reinforces that resoundingly.
At its best, "CSI" is a workplace drama - people working in proximity with a forged sense of purpose and identity. They are a single unit, but they are also individuals, and, of course, what Grissom loves best of all are bugs. It's an indelibly quirky - almost lovable - trait.
Now, it's time for Gil to move on to rediscover the color of his own parachute. Fans can understand the impulse, but that doesn't make this exit any less costly. I can't imagine "CSI" without Petersen. Can you?