On Wednesday, Sept. 29 — 21 years to the day after the original “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” premiered — the show returns.
Oh, it has a new title — “CSI: Vegas.” And most of the cast is different. But it’s still pretty much the same show it was for 15 seasons. And that’s a good thing.
In 2000, “CSI” was the most fascinating show on TV because it broke the cop show mold. It wasn’t about police officers running around with guns, it was about scientists collecting, processing and interpreting evidence to solve crimes. There have been a lot of imitators since then, but “CSI” was unique.
“It’s a science-based show,” said executive producer Jason Tracey (“Elementary,” “Burn Notice”), who’s new to the “CSI” franchise. “We take the responsibility of entering the criminal-justice realm really seriously.”
And it was a huge hit, topping the ratings for much of its first decade and spawning three spinoffs — “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY” and “CSI: Cyber.”
“CSI: Vegas” is not a spinoff, it’s a sequel. Original cast members William Peterson (as Gil Grissom), Jorja Fox (Sara Sidle Grissom) and Wallace Langham (David Hodges) return, but much of the cast is new — Paula Newsome, Matt Lauria, Mandeep Dhillon and Mel Rodriguez.
The sequel revives and updates the ultra-cool look of the original — the camera angles, the graphics, the lighting, the re-creations. The biggest difference since the original “CSI” signed off in 2015 is the advances in forensic science, and that’s reflected in the revival.
“It’s all kinds of new machines, new technology that Grissom wouldn’t have been all that comfortable with even 10 years ago,” Peterson said.
The first episode features a guest appearance by Paul Guilfoyle as Captain Jim Brass, and creator/executive producer Anthony Zuiker indicated, coyley, that other original cast members will also return.
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” he said when asked. Pressed to clarify, he said, “We have a couple more surprises in store.”
The original series was noted for its wild, bizarre cases filled with unexpected twists, and we’re promised there will be “some fun, great demented stuff in this season, too,” Zuiker said.
There will be cases of the week — wrapped up before the end of the episode — and more long story arcs than in the original. Without getting spoilery, “CSI” returns with a plot that reaches into its past and threatens to undercut just about every case in the 335 episodes that aired from 2000-2015.
“CSI: Vegas” gets off to a very strong start. Again.
A pale imitation of “Ghosts”
“Ghosts” is a hilarious British sitcom (the show premiered in 2019) about a couple who inherit a huge old house that’s filled with — you guessed it! — ghosts.
“Ghosts” is also an American sitcom that does its best to mimic the original. Only without the laughs.
The CBS version, which debuts with back-to-back episodes on Thursday at 8 and 8:30 p.m. on Ch. 2, isn’t entirely unfunny — but it somehow misses the mark.
City dweller Samantha (Rose McIver) inherits the country estate and dreams of turning it into a bed and breakfast. Her husband, Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar) wants to sell the place. And things take a turn when Samantha can suddenly see the spirits who inhabit the place.
They include a 1920s lounge singer (Danielle Pinnock), a 1700s militiaman (Brandon Scott Jones); a 1960s hippie (Sheila Carrasco), a 1980s Boy Scout leader (Richie Moriarty), a 1990s Wall Street financier (Asher Grodman), a Viking explorer from the year 1009 (Devon Chandler Long), a Native American from the 1500s (Román Zaragoza), and the wife (Rebecca Wisocky) of the 1800s robber baron who built the estate — who is Samantha’s ancestor.
There are some funny moments, but the show’s batting average is low. Maybe it’ll get better. Here’s hoping.
By the way, the first 3 seasons of the British “Ghosts” (19 episodes in all) are streaming on HBO Max. No word yet on whether we’ll get a season 4. Here’s hoping. (And this time I really mean it!)
“Sopranos” sequel is better than expected
Returning to “The Sopranos” 14 years after its controversial (and annoying) finale was a risk. Making it a prequel was a bigger risk. Casting the late James Gandolfino’s son as the younger Tony Soprano was a risk of almost unimaginable proportions.
And yet this high-risk gamble pays off, for the most part, in the movie “The Many Saints of Newark.” Particularly the casting of Michael Gandofino as Tony. He doesn’t try to mimic his father’s performance, but he captures the essence of it.
(The movie’s weakest moments come when some other actors try to mimic their predecessors rather than reinterpret the characters as their own.)
Set in the late 1960s/early 1970s, it’s the story of how Tony went from a pretty nice teenager to a mob boss. We all know where this is going to end up, and even if you’ve never seen an episode of “The Sopranos” you won’t be lost.
If you’re a “Sopranos” fan, there’s a lot to like here. More than you might expect.
“The Many Saints of Newark” starts streaming on HBOMax on Oct. 1, the same day it was released in theaters.