Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Laurence Fishburne Joins CSI: I’m Underwhelmed

The news is out, Laurence Fishburne will be joining the cast of CSI. And despite the fact that I can be a somewhat resilient TV watcher, this change doesn’t thrill me.

Yes, he’s a big name. Yes, he’s well known by many people. But I’ve never been much of a fan. To me, it seems that Fishburne always plays the same type character: the tough guy or the bad guy or the mean guy or the dark, angst-y guy, or all of the above. He has always seemed one-dimensional. He's quite unlike William Petersen before Petersen came on CSI to play Gil Grissom. Sure, Petersen had done films, but he wasn’t quite a household name, and he seemed to be cast in varying roles with varying persona. Sometimes adding a big name to a show just means big expectations that never get fulfilled.

I’m willing to give the cast change a chance, don’t get me wrong. After all, if I’ve weathered the years of the revolving door with the Law & Order franchise, I think I can handle some cast changes at CSI. It’s not like I’m not prepared for it. But I’m just disappointed in the cast selection AND in Fishburne’s character background (below). Can’t we just have someone in charge that doesn't have some weird, wacky twist to his or her psyche?

So while I will still watch the show, I feel I need to come clean and say that I’m not happy about it. Believe me, it’s not about Petersen leaving. While he was critical to the show in it’s earlier years, he actually seems a little more dispensable now, seeing that he’s almost been a background player for a while. But Fishburne just doesn’t light any fire for me. In fact, I feel like his presence may be a little too heavy for the show. OK, I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll watch…but it better be good.

Here’s the story from EW.com:

It's Official: Laurence Fishburne Joins 'CSI'

by Michael Ausiello

Talk about the worst-kept secret in the TV biz: More than a month after we first brought you news of the talks between Laurence Fishburne and CSI, CBS is now confirming that the Oscar-nominated actor is joining the cast this season as William Petersen's pseudo replacement.

Says CBS: "Fishburne will play a former pathologist who is now working as an itinerant college lecturer, teaching a course in criminalistics. His focus is on understanding criminal behavior, how and why people commit acts of violence -- tendencies he disturbingly sees within himself. In the course of a murder investigation, he comes into contact with the CSI team and ultimately joins the Las Vegas Crime Lab as a Level-1 CSI."

Says me: He's got some funky serial killer DNA!

"CBS asked us, 'Who's at the top of your dream list?' CSI executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar said in a joint statement. "Without hesitation, we said Laurence Fishburne. He is a powerful and intense actor, with an incredible range....If you distill CSI down to its essence, it's a collaboration -- and we are so looking forward to collaborating with Mr. Fishburne. For all of us at CSI, this is truly a dream."

"I am elated and delighted to be joining the cast of CSI," said Fishburne. "I look forward to a wonderful collaboration with the creative and talented team of such a successful and distinguished show."

Fishburne will debut in this season's ninth episode, right around the time Petersen departs.

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, here.

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