A fan of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation since the first season, Gavin Harris is working a dream job as a Supervising Producer on the series during its twelfth season. So far this season, Harris has been tasked with writing the season premiere, developing a story that placed a CSI’s life in jeopardy, and introducing the son of the new graveshift supervisor in tonight’s “Brain Doe.” In an exclusive interview, the brain behind tonight’s episode talks with CSI Files’ Shane Saunders about expanding DB Russell’s family, a CSI’s new job opportunity, joining the series and more. Mild spoilers after the jump!
CSI Files: DB Russell’s (Ted Danson) son, Charlie (Brandon Jones), was introduced tonight. Was the decision to bring him in this early in the season used as a way to provide some background on DB–will he be back to further develop Ted’s character?
Gavin Harris: He will be back. I think the short-term was we’ve been talking a lot about family with DB and I think we’re slowly rolling out some of his family. Hopefully some day in the future we’ll meet his wife. But the kid is a great actor and we’re really happy with him. We think he’s a really interesting character and a good insight into DB. We do want to do more with him and develop him. Yeah, he’ll be back.
CSI Files: Is introducing DB’s family a parallel to the theme this season on CSI? You have Ecklie’s daughter joining the team and Catherine (Marg Helgenberger) exploring her options in life. Do the two go hand in hand?
Harris: I think it does in a sense. I think in a sense we’ve always felt that CSI is our family and that this is the new guy; he’s sort of that father role. Yeah, there are a lot of parallels going on between DB’s family and the CSI family that viewers have known for years.
CSI Files: Another significant moment tonight was Catherine getting a visit from Sheriff Liston (Barbara Eve Harris). I’m assuming that’s going to play a part in her exit.
Harris: It may or may not, sir! I cannot confirm or deny that. But I do think it’s going to inform Catherine’s thinking for when she does finally make a decision about her future. So whether it’s that or not… I think the point in that episode is someone pointed out that there’s options outside of CSI and her worldview of where she could work.
CSI Files: Catherine and Vartann (Alex Carter) shared their first scene of the season tonight. How did you write that scene in terms of whether the two are in a exclusive relationship, or the possibility that they’re not?
Harris: Right. I think in a good way I don’t think they know what they are, and perhaps they’ve hooked up occasionally. I don’t think they’re a full-time couple. But, obviously, more on Vartann’s side, he wishes there was more going on. But I think the read is they’re not a couple but possibly they’re hooking up occasionaly. I think Vartann wants more.
CSI Files: Do you have a character that you particularly graviate towards?
Harris: Nah. Sometimes when we think of an idea or I’m working on an idea, suddenly one character will pop. Certainly Hodges (Wallace Langham) is always fun to write; he’s funny and you never know what’s going to come out of that guy’s mouth. I think each one brings their own thing and some stories naturally gravitate towards them.
CSI Files: When I was on set for “Brain Doe” and we were talking, you mentioned “write what you know.”
Harris: [Laughs.] Which is the octopus sex [from “73 Seconds”]! Which is what I know. I try to work that into every episode of television that I write. [Laughs.]
CSI Files: Well, for the premiere you went to Las Vegas and rode one of the rails and explored that. And for “CSI Down,” Tom Mularz mentioned that you live by a hospital, so you pitched the idea for a case involving a medevac.
Harris: That is correct.
CSI Files: What was your personal take for this episode?
Harris: The other two were much more specific to me. This was actually based–I grew up in Chicago, and I’m a big Chicago Bears fan. One of the Chicago Bears had the disease that we talked about in the episode and sadly did kill himself. So, for one, I thought it was a great tragic story. Secondly, I thought it would be an interesting CSI mystery where all we have to go on is a brain. Sort of went from there.
CSI Files: You wrote for another crime show, Cold Case. How do you keep the case ideas flowing without recycling something?
Harris: I think crime goes hand in hand with a great emotional story. I don’t think you just want to depend on the crime and the twists, but you want to tell a great human story. Then, I think it’s just fun going in that world and finding different twists and turns. When I look at true crime books or websites, the shit that really happens and continues to happen is unbelievable. The things that happen and the stories that are out there are endless.
CSI Files: How did you get the job on CSI?
Harris: [Laughs.] How did I get it? This is my third [Jerry] Bruckheimer show so they’re familiar with my work. Thankfully, Don [McGill, Executive Producer] and Carol [Mendelsohn, Executive Producer] had read some of my work. So they read my work, I met with them, I love the show; I was eager to do it. We quickly decided it was a good move and here we are.
CSI Files: There was a nice Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) story going on tonight. Are you guys thinking about bringing Ellie back this season?
Harris: It’s… been discussed. I don’t know if we are. We honestly haven’t talked that much about it. It’s an option and we’re always intrigued with Brass. I think Paul is just a fantastic actor and he was so good with this kid. Anytime we spend time with Paul and Brass it’s great. We might bring her in.
CSI Files: Final question for you tonight. You mentioned earlier that you’re writing Episode Sixteen. Can you tease a little bit about that episode?
Harris: I don’t know if I can. [Laughs.] I’ll say this and tease it: it’s a bit of a departure episode. It’s whatever that means; it’s different.
CSI Files: CSI meets Glee?
Harris: It’s a musical. You got me.
CSI Files: You’re serious?
Harris: I’m kidding. It’s not a musical. [Laughs.] But it is a bit of a departure episode and I think it will be an exciting way to look at our characters a little differently. We’ll leave it at that.
Shane Saunders is a freelance writer and reviewer. His work can be seen on EDGE Network and ShaneSSaunders.com. Twitter: @ShaneSSaunders.