Interview: David Rambo

The ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’ Supervising Producer drops a few hints about the final two episodes of season ten in the second of our sweeps preview interviews. Spoilers inside!

With serial killer Dr. Jekyll now in possession of Langston’s badge, things are heating up on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Supervising Producer David Rambo offers a preview of what’s to come and looks back on the episodes leading up to the big finale on May 20th.

CSI Files: What’s in store for the Las Vegas CSI team in the final two episodes of the season?

David Rambo: I hate spoilers, as you know. But I can tell you that an unexpected and controversial figure from Langston’s past will appear as the team is tracking down Dr. Jekyll. The finale episode has some terrific science in it, one of the wildest and creepiest murder techniques imaginable — which is something I always enjoy!

CSI Files: What was the genesis of the Dr. Jekyll character?

Rambo: From my recollection, it was Naren Shankar who started spinning the idea of a “mad surgeon” in the writers room almost a year ago, and we all responded to it. What we liked is that this killer would have skills similar to those of Langston, and at first it would be very difficult to connect the victims. We loved the idea that the killer could or could not be Langston. Things sort of took off from there.

CSI Files: Will we learn Jekyll’s identity by the end of the season?

Rambo: Yes.

CSI Files: We’ve heard Langston himself will be a suspect in the Dr. Jekyll case. How does he find himself in this predicament?

Rambo: Remember the “means, motive and opportunity” trinity? On examination, it becomes apparent that Langston may have had all three where these victims are concerned.

CSI Files: Can you hint at the connection between Dr. Jekyll and serial killer Nate Haskell?

Rambo: One hint: red sauce.

CSI Files: Langston is a somewhat controversial figure among the fans. Why do you think he’s so polarizing?

Rambo: He’s not the first CSI character fans have held strong feelings about for and against. But, whatever the degree, any polarization is troubling to me, because I think Laurence Fishburne is a superb actor and a strong presence on the show. He stepped in when one of the most iconic figures in TV history left, and that’s a challenge for any actor facing another guy’s loyal audience. Also, because we didn’t want to just bring in a new guy and suddenly have him in charge of the team, we struggled to find his character. It all sort of happened while we were already off and running. We consulted Laurence. We tried things. Some worked, some didn’t, but I think we’ve got the character right now, and I love his interaction with the team, especially one-on-one.

CSI Files: In “Sin City Blue”, Langston didn’t want to give his DNA to Wendy (Liz Vassey) as an elimination sample. Will we find out the reason for that?

Rambo: Well, speaking hypothetically, either you’re leery of personal information ending up in a database, or you’ve got something to hide. Hmmm….

CSI Files: Will we find out more about Langston’s anger issues?

Rambo: Yes. He’s a complex character with an Achilles’ heel.

CSI Files: Nick (George Eads) and Langston have developed a pretty strong bond over the last season and a half. What is it that draws these two together?

Rambo: I think it’s mutual respect, on and off the screen. They’re great together! Real give-and-take.

CSI Files: Marg Helgenberger has gone on record saying that her contract is up at the end of the year, and she doesn’t yet have a new one. Should we be worried about Catherine Willows?

Rambo: That one’s out of my hands, but I’d personally hate to see CSI without Catherine.

CSI Files: Catherine and Detective Vartann (Alex Carter) have embarked on a romance this season. What was behind the decision to pair them together, and will we see more of their relationship before the season is done?

Rambo: It seems that every season, when we talk with the actors about where their characters could go in the coming year, the subject of Catherine having a love life comes up. Not only is Catherine a very attractive woman, Marg is an actor of tremendous range and willing to explore the emotional boundaries of a character working long hours at a potentially life-threatening job as years go by. Carol Mendelsohn came into my office one day this season and said she’d been thinking that Catherine and Vartann would make a natural couple. It sounded right to me, and to others on the staff. When Jackie Hoyt ran it by Marg before starting “Sin City Blue,” she loved the idea. As to how much of the love life we get to see, we have to remember that the show’s about crime scene investigations, but I don’t expect a flame that hot to flicker out quickly.

CSI Files: Jorja Fox has been in quite a few episodes this season. Any chance Sara Sidle will be back in the lab full time next season?

Rambo: I don’t know the answer to that one. But hasn’t it been great to see her back this season?

CSI Files: Greg Sanders (Eric Szmanda) was expressing job frustration earlier in the season over his case assignments. Is he still feeling dissatisfied, or has that passed?

Rambo: I’d like to think that over the course of the season, Greg discovered that the team does respect him. He’s worked with everyone, and shown he’s as capable as any of them. I think Greg loves his job, and knows that this is the best place he could be. By the way, Eric and I really had fun filming “Take My Life, Please” at the end of the season. He so admired Tim Conway and Jennifer Tilly, and the humor in that silly case I wrote.

CSI Files: Wendy finally made a move on Hodges (Wallace Langham) in “Field Mice”! What’s in store for our favorite lab rats?

Rambo: I hate to be cagey here, but with those two anything could happen. They’re so brilliant, yet utterly awkward. You just know that deep down each of them thinks they’re smarter than the other. And they are.

CSI Files: Of all the CSIs on the show, which one do you think has changed the most in the seven years you’ve been with CSI?

Rambo: Great question. They’ve all developed and grown. I’d have to say, though, that Nick is the one who’s come the greatest distance. He’s confronted fears, ghosts, and torture and come through it stronger and more compassionate. He’s a leader who knows how to listen, and a follower who knows how to speak up.

CSI Files: Have there been any discussions about season 11 in the writers’ room? Do you know how the cliffhanger will be wrapped up?

Rambo: You really want me to spill all the secrets, don’t you? I can’t do that. Look, we’ve just managed to craft a tenth season of this show. When I think of what it takes to create just one episode, then a season — it boggles the mind to think it’s been going on for ten years. I hope the fans appreciate that without Carol Mendelsohn, there wouldn’t have been ten years. She’s the constant. And she is simply amazing. She loves the show, and never, ever stops coming up with ideas. She asks everyone to take a good idea farther, take a good script deeper, dare to think bigger, scarier, funnier; to go where we haven’t gone before. You have no idea how generous and tireless she is. She has ideas for Season 11, and there are a lot of variables that have to fall into place, but I can promise you it will be another season that you won’t want to miss.

Kristine Huntley

Author

Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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