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CSI Files

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Episode 100 Grabs The Headlines

By Caillan
November 19, 2004 - 12:30 PM

See Also: 'Ch-Ch-Changes' Episode Guide

The airing of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation's 100th outing, "Ch-Ch-Changes", on CBS last night has prompted a range of media articles dealing with the CSI franchise and its impact on prime-time television.

  • Executive producer and showrunner Carol Mendelsohn told Victor Balta at HeraldNet how CSI was very much an unknown quantity when it launched in October, 2000. But she said creator Anthony Zuiker had faith the show would make it to the milestone 100th episode. "He was brand new to television and was already talking about the 100th episode from the first few episodes of the first season. We were looking at him like he was crazy." The former Las Vegas tram driver handed the writing staff a book detailing the work of crime scene investigators, and soon his fellow writers were hooked. "We started to talk about what we read in the book and about forensics," Mendelsohn said. "It wasn't about how do you make it interesting. In talking about it, we got excited."

    Since then, the producers have always taken a hands-on approach to crafting the crimes seen on the show, with Zuiker at one stage dragging another writer across the carpet to test out his theory that the fibers would get caught in his watch. This attitude has ensured that CSI has remained as authentic and relevant as possible, no matter how difficult some of the scientific technobabble delivered by the characters from time to time. "We try always to make the science real. I think that's what the audience has always responded to," Mendelsohn said.

  • 'The rise and rise of CSI' would be an apt term to describe an article by Kevin Williamson at the Edmonton Sun, which examines the history of the show. Williamson points out how CSI has catapulted William Petersen (Gil Grissom) into the front ranks of superstardom and cemented the reputation of Jerry Bruckheimer as one of the entertainment industry's foremost producers.

  • Over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer critic Melanie McFarland seemed to regard the 100th episode milestone with scepticism. "Forgive me for saying so, but hitting 100 doesn't seem so special," she wrote, adding that the series still has a way to go before it can top Law & Order's 300 plus episodes of prime-time television. But McFarland did acknowledge the enormous impact of the CSI franchise on the crime genre:

    Actors have to be climbing over one another for roles as random as, say, victim No. 3. A number of series borrow CSI's storytelling devices, including CBS's Cold Case and NBC's Medical Investigation, both known to get happy with the flashbacks, and Fox's House, fond of close encounters with organs and blood cells. CSI also remains ever renewable by sidelining the characters' personal lives, especially in recent seasons, to spotlight the crimes every week. This also means the actors are somewhat expendable, as George Eads (who plays Nick Stokes) and Jorja Fox (Sara Sidle) found out last summer when they angled for a pay raise and were fired, then rehired after a bit of groveling.

    Also garnering a mention was the new line of CSI toys, described by McFarland as "too weird for words".

  • The Courier Press wasn't popping any champagne corks, either. The paper was highly critical of the level of violence in CSI, which is described as "a fanciful melodrama that purports to portray the work of forensics specialists". The editorial points out how the violence in CSI and other popular TV shows, such as The Sopranos and Crossing Jordan, reveals much about society today and "how comfortable we are with watching violence for entertainment's sake".

  • CSI's special birthday event even made it to the (web) pages of the ultimate geek destination: Slashdot.org. After a visitor posed a question regarding the show's impact on everything from forensic science courses to juries demanding instant DNA evidence, the site's message boards ran hot, with over 700 comments posted in reply. One person called CSI "Scooby Doo for adults", while other visitors debated the merits of survelliance cameras in preventing crimes and catching the perpetrators.

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