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CSI reveals lighter tone, Ted Danson details and Helgenberger exit

Marg Helgenberger in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Story by Jack Foley

CSI fans intrigued by news of Ted Danson’s impending arrival have been told a little about what to expect from the forthcoming 11th season.

Speaking as part of America’s Television Critics Association press tour, CBS revealed that the 11th season will be lighter in tone and that Danson’s incoming character will be called DB Russell.

He will play a new CSI supervisor with his own process for solving crimes, which in turn brings a lighter touch to the procedural element.

Executive producer Don McGill said: “Ted’s character is this guy who grew up with counter-culture parents on a commune.”

He is also someone who has an ordered life outside of the unit – a first for a CSI supervisor.

Adds executive producer Carol Mendelsohn: “We wanted a scientist, a Sherlock Holmes; we did not want a science nerd.”

Danson himself commented: “He’s the Phil Jackson coming in to handle a group of incredibly bright people who are on a slippery slope because of what happened [with Nate Haskell].”

While all eyes are on Danson’s arrival, however, fans will also be sad to hear that Marg Helgenberger’s Catherine Willows will be departing this year after more than 250 episodes.

As such, Haskell’s takedown and its fallout will have a direct impact on Catherine’s role with the team.

Says Helgenberger: “Ted’s character is pretty endearing and he has a way of looking at a crime scene that’s a fresh perspective and it gets under everybody’s skin – in a good way.”

But given Catherine’s preference for being a team player, she may be ‘directly impacted’ in the fallout from Haskell – although she won’t depart until around the halfway stage of the season.

Helgenberger had reportedly expressed a desire to leave the show last season but was persuaded to stay in order for the writers to give her a proper send-off. And Mendelsohn expressed the hope that her departure would still leave room for a return in the future if the actress so wished.

Commenting on the lighter tone, meanwhile, Mendelsohn concluded: “We always talk every year about going back to Season 1, going back to that feel. [So] we looked at a lot of our first season episodes and were just inspired by them.

“I think you’ll see the tone is a little more Season 1. It feels like a fresh start and if you can’t start fresh after Season 11, I don’t know when you can.”

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