It's been 20 years since the world was introduced to a new style of crime drama when CSI: Crime Scene Investigation premiered on Friday, Oct. 6, 2000. The groundbreaking show was an immediate success, quickly moving from a Friday night time slot to the coveted Thursday night spot on CBS. The show spawned three spin-offs — CSI: New York, CSI: Miami, and CSI: Cyber — over a 16-year span. The original series ran for 15 seasons and won countless awards.
To celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the premiere, Last Night Now and Then spoke with the creator of the series, Anthony Zuiker, and star Marg Helgenberger, who played Catherine Willows for 12 seasons.
One of the things that made the show so unique was the so-called "CSI shot." If you've ever seen the show, you'd recognize the famous shot. Typically seen in flashbacks showing the crime, the "CSI shot" would follow the bullet into someone's body as it splinters bones and tears through flesh and organs, or when someone swallows poison and the viewer would get a trip down the victim's throat and into the stomach.
When talking with Anthony, who created the series and produced all three spin-offs, he explained that he was inspired by a George Clooney movie. "I got the ‘CSI shot’ by watching a movie called Three Kings, where the bullet went into the body," Zuiker said. "So it was just a different point of view of a forensic show and a cop show. Because actually you could dive in to see the forensics. So we coined them right in the script. It would be ‘CSI shot’ in the secondary slug, or the shot line."
For her part, Helgenberger says she was immediately intrigued by the script. "When I read that pilot script, I was, you know, got very excited about it, and really just thought it was innovative, and groundbreaking," said Helgenberger, who also talked about the innovative "CSI shot." "What came to be known as ‘the CSI shot,’ you know following the trajectory of bullets through bodies," Helgenberger explained, "I mean, there was all that sort of fun way to show the science, you know, not just talk about it. And that definitely was revolutionary."
While Marg was excited about the show from the very beginning, after the pilot aired, she was all in. "When I saw the pilot cut together, it just reconfirmed and reconfirmed my enthusiasm for the show and how much I think there was an audience for it," said Helgenberger. And even though the actress had a good feeling about the show, she never expected it to become the worldwide success that it is today. "It's always good to be validated when you know that something — when you read something that you [think], 'This is special,' and then, you know, you do connect to an audience," said Helgenberger.
The show is one of the most popular shows of the last 20 years, and is now airing in almost every country in the world. So it was a pretty big deal when reports came out at the beginning of 2020 that there were possibly new CSI episodes in the works. Unfortunately, like almost everything else in 2020, it was ruined by the coronavirus. Asked if he had any plans for the 20th anniversary, Zuiker replied, "Well, we thought we were, we thought we might be debuting a ‘CSI the comeback’ right around Oct. 6, 2020, to make it 20 years, but unfortunately, a little pandemic stopped us." But don't worry, the pandemic hasn't completely shut down the future of CSI.
Anthony explained that it will be a limited series and the scripts are currently being written, with the plan being that they shoot in spring of 2021 and air later that fall. He also revealed that we will see some familiar faces, but couldn't elaborate on whose faces we might be seeing. Although it has been reported that William Peterson, who played Gil Grissom, and Jorja Fox, who played Sara Sidle, are in talks to return.
As for Marg, she's pretty busy with her current CBS show, All Rise, but said she would love to return to the show. She even has an idea of what her character, Catherine, would be up to these days. "Well, when we did the series finale, which would've been after Season 15," said Helgenberger, "At that point, Catherine was in the FBI. So I would think, you know, she's the FBI director. Why not, right?"
Luckily, the scripts are still being written, so if Zuiker could somehow get FBI Director Willows in on a case, it would be very much appreciated.
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