CSI: Crime Scene Investigation writers’ assistant Michael F.X. Daley has four episodes under his belt as a writer, and won two awards for his contributions to the series–a 2008 Genesis Award and 2012 SET Award. With credits on other series such as Big Love and Reaper, Daley’s episodes demonstrate his versatile writing style, being able to infuse comedic elements while staying true to the show’s dramatic tone. For his latest episode, “Sheltered,” airing this week at 10pm on CBS, Daley got back to his darker roots, much like his debut episode “Lying Down With Dogs,” that has several surprises in store. Shane Saunders caught up with the writer to discuss the installment.
Writer Michael F.X. Daley on the set of his episode “Sheltered.”
CSI Files: “Sheltered” is your fourth writing credit on CSI, and your first solo episode since Season Eleven’s “Man Up.” Walk me through the creative process of the episode. What were you looking to accomplish with this installment?
Michael FX Daley
: As you can see in “Man Up” and even in much of “Split Decisions”
, I tend to lean toward comedy. So this time out I wanted to show my dramatic chops. “Sheltered” was an attempt to flex that muscle. To get into some real emotional drama. I’m really proud of how it turned out.
CSI Files: The previous episode, “Dead of the Class,” was character heavy, with an emphasis on the development of the David Phillips character. Were you looking to do a more crime-of-the-week, science-focused story with this one?
Daley: Actually, with “Dead of The Class” preceding me, it was more about swinging back from some of the comedic elements in that episode. So now it was our shows goal to be more dramatic in my episode as well. We like to mix it up with episodes.
CSI Files: Neal McDonough and Kate Danson, Ted Danson’s (DB Russell) daughter, are featured this week. How did the idea of using Ted’s daughter come about?
Daley: We tried to cast Neal McDonough before, but we weren’t able to. This role needed a really strong actor, and he was perfect for the part.
Kate had actually auditioned two years ago for my episode “Man Up”, but wasn’t right for that part. That was before Ted joined us. Since he joined, we’d been hoping to find an opportunity to get her in, since she’s a great actress. This character, a tough lawyer with a great scene up against her father, was perfect for her.
CSI Files: There’s been some talk that she may recur. Is that still the plan?
It’s hard on our show to get reoccurring characters. They usually kill or get killed. But a lawyer is easy to bring back. I’m sure that would make Ted happy as well. He really enjoyed working with her.
CSI Files: This season has focused a bit more on Alimi Ballard’s new character, Detective Crawford. Whereas in years past the show had a rotating list of detectives, what was the genesis of having Crawford and Brass at the center of this season?
Daley: It was just a scheduling conflict in my episode. Brass was unavailable. And Crawford has provided us with another Detective to use. Especially when we do multiple cases.
CSI Files: Is there still a chance for Detective Vartann (Alex Carter) or Detective Moreno (Enrique Murciano) to appear in these final episodes?
Daley: Perhaps. I know much comes down to scheduling.
George Eads (Nick Stokes), director Louis Milito, and Elisabeth Harnois (Morgan Brody) on the set of “Sheltered.” (Photo: Michael F.X. Daley)
: You’re working on a new pilot, Jukebox Heroes
, which is in the process of raising money through Mobcaster. How is the project looking so far? Is this something you’re trying produce for a web-based platform, or actually air on a television network?
is a show that myself and my co-creator Andy Black
have tried to sell at cable networks – ABC Family, MTV… They all love the idea but no one bought it. So we’re hoping to make a pilot ourselves, with crowd funding, and show what it can be. Hopefully then it will find a home. But it’s not planned to be a web series. If anyone wants to check it out, go to: http://mobcaster.com/fundraise/jukebox-heroes/pilot. We’d love the support!
CSI Files: The short-lived but well-loved Reaper was a show you worked on a few years back. Given the latest situation with Veronica Marsand its Kickstarter efforts, have you heard anything about trying to revive the show in any way, shape or form?
Daley: I haven’t heard that, but maybe I should start it! I loved Reaper, even before I got to work on it. I’d love to see it come back. And the finale, which I actually wrote, left a lot of questions unanswered, and really advanced the paradigm. I’d love to see that get to play out, even if it was a movie. I know the creators have a pilot for ABC, Gothica. So they may be too busy right now. But Veronica Mars might be the way of the future. It’s just good business to see what kind of an audience you can expect. The internet is a place where the general population can really chime in on what they want to see.
CSI Files: The season is winding down. What are some of your favorite moments from this season? Anything you would have liked to do, but weren’t able to?
Daley: I was happy we brought the dog on the team. I’m a real dog lover (as is over half the staff) and Sam was great in his episode. SPOILER: You may even see him in mine!
I personally loved what we did with Sara’s character this year. I know I’ll lose some GSRs off my Twitter
now, but Jorja Fox
is an amazing actress and that was an incredible performance. It’s time for Sara to become her own character, and not be defined by an off screen Grissom.
Writer Michael FX Daley and Jorja Fox (Sara Sidle) on the set of “Sheltered.” (Photo: Shelli Bergh)
Also, I was glad to see David Berman get to show his comedy chops in “Dead of the Class.” That scene in the autopsy was brilliant, and I give Tom Mularz real props for that. It’s been a great year all around. I’m really proud of how strong the show is in season 13.
CSI Files: Going into these final episodes, what can viewers expect? How is the finale looking?
Daley: Here’s one teaser – you may see someone we haven’t seen in years return in the finale… (cryptic enough?)