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CSI: Crime Scene Investigation - 8.1 (Review)

Review by Lizzie Guilfoyle

ALTHOUGH Season 8 of the evergreen forensic science series, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, was reduced to just 17 episodes by the Hollywood writer’s strike, the high quality of the series was largely maintained. I say largely because I found one particular episode a complete turn-off – literally so.

In You Kill Me, Hodges (Wallace Langham) stages hypothetical murders ostensibly to give his colleages a chance to play CSI. But as always with CSI, nothing is quite what it seems. This is, in fact, the first episode in the series entire history not to feature an ‘actual’ murder. Morever, it was filmed entirely in the lab and I can only think it was a misguided attempt to lighten the mood following the departure of Sara (Jorja Fox) in the previous episode (Goodbye and Good Luck).

Sara’s leaving was no surprise and you could be forgiven for thinking that the season premiere Dead Doll provided the perfect vehicle (no pun intended!). But in all probability, it would have meant killing off the character – not always a good idea, not least because of its finality. Although having said that, neither Dallas nor the usually more down-to-earth EastEnders let a little thing like death get in the way of a good storyline.

Instead, Sara becomes disillusioned with her life as a CSI and leaves to find the peace that has been alluding her for so long. It does, of course, mean saying goodbye to Grissom (William Petersen) and this Sara does in a letter. It’s a letter that Fox actually wrote herself and, to her immense credit, speaks volumes about the actress and her perception of Sara. As exits go, it’s extremely well-handled by both parties… though with news of Petersen’s own impending departure, I have a feeling we haven’t quite seen the last of Sara.

It’s in Cockroaches that Warrick’s pill addiction finally spirals out of control. You may well remember that following his split from Tina, a storyline that was never fully exploited, he’s taking Zolpidem to help him sleep and Modafinil to help him stay alert. Now, and through every fault of his own, he becomes the prime suspect in the murder of ‘Candy’/Joanne, a stripper at a club run by the notorious Lou Gedda.

Gary Dourdan as the tortured Warrick is superb and I can’t help wondering if, in the light of Petersen and Fox’s departures, the conclusion of this ongoing storyline will take a different turn. To lose two key characters is a risky business, to lose three could seriously jeopardize the series’ future success. That aside, you might be interested to know that the background music towards the end of Cockroaches – during Warrick’s drug and alcohol induced hallucinations – is Dourdan’s own from his band Kolade.

Who and What is the first part of a CSI/ Without a Trace crossover which sees mean and moody FBI agent Jack Malone (Anthony LaPaglia) tracking a serial killer in Las Vegas; Lying Down With Dogs explores the unsavoury world of dog fighting – an episode that will appal animal lovers; and A La Cart, which cleverly takes its title from the two featured crimes, ends with Grissom, Nick (George Eads), Warrick and Catherine (Marj Helgenberger) having fun go-carting. Yes, Grissom in a go-cart is just too good to miss!

And lastly, fans of Hodges will be pleased to note that he’s finally become a cast regular, with (deservedly) a place in the opening credits.

All that and more makes CSI: Crime Scene Investigation well worth watching. The question is, will it survive the loss of those three key characters? I hope so… although CSI without Grissom will be like Christmas without Santa. Therefore, enjoy it while it lasts…..

Find out who is replacing Grissom