I like “C.S.I.”, especially since Ted Danson took over the show as family man D.B. Russell. I won’t be watching the show for long, however, if it continues to cheat its audience as it did tonight, in the much heralded premiere to the new season.
The plot involved the kidnapping of Russell’s granddaughter in an extortion plot engineered by an imprisoned Vegas mobster. In fact, there wasn’t much to the story: they tracked down the little girl, and she was alive. The show was padded out by an obnoxious and unprecedented gimmick for “C.S.I”, showing scenes of great tragedy, violence or drama that turned out to be nothing but dark forebodings in Ted Danson’s stressed-out head. We see him viewing the body of his daughter in the coroner’s lab; she has a bullet hole in her temple. Surprise! It’s not really happening! Ted is just dreading it, because he’s so worried. D.B. gets a gun, goes in to a holding cell to talk to the mobster, loses his cool and shoots him dead. Oops! That didn’t happen either! D.B. is just thinking about how much he’d like to do that, you see. After the child is found unharmed, after real events that would have taken up about a 30 minute episode, D.B./Danson comes home to find his beloved wife leaving him! Oh, no, not that! D.B. loves his…Dang! They got me again! That was just another day dream!
I have seen this device used effectively—like, say, in “Wayne’s World,” or “Ally McBeal”—but here it was just a cheap way of programming artificial jolts into a tame and rather unremarkable episode. It’s dishonest story telling, manipulative, and a betrayal of the trust of regular viewers who should be able to depend on the series not to change the rules after 12 years. I’d be surprised if a large percentage of “C.S.I.’s” regular audience didn’t resent it as much as I did. So from now on, under these new rules, when anything shocking or dramatic happens are we supposed to wait a beat to find out whether its just another fake-out? Or will this only happen when they need a little more action and the real story is lacking?
If so, tune me out.