Television said goodbye to many acclaimed series in 2015 such as "Mad Men," "Boardwalk Empire" and "Sons of Anarchy." "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" exited with much less fanfare in September despite its impact on the television landscape and pop culture over the last 15 years.
CBS graciously awarded "CSI" creator Anthony Zuiker the opportunity to give his show a proper ending after cancelling it in May after 15 seasons. Original stars William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger returned to solve one last case with the CSI team before leaving Las Vegas for good.
"CSI" barely made it to air in the fall of 2000. ABC, NBC and Fox all passed on the concept before CBS picked it up and stuck it on Friday nights following the anticipated remake of "The Fugitive."
The show thrived and halfway through its first season, CBS moved it to Thursdays at 9 p.m. following another hot newcomer, "Survivor." The two shows would go on to dominate the night for much of the next decade.
The success of "CSI" led to a proliferation of TV shows that incorporated forensics into its storytelling, most notably on CBS (i.e. "Cold Case," "Criminal Minds," "NCIS" and the "CSI" spinoffs, "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY"). Audiences learned more about DNA, fingerprints, gunshot residue and other pieces of evidence, which had positive and negative effects on real crime scene investigation.
For me, "CSI" became a show of comfort that I could retreat to any time my favorite TV antiheroes crossed one too many lines or the mythology on a serialized show became too complex to handle.
I found the show in the summer of 2005 when I caught a rerun of the fifth season finale directed by Oscar-winner, Quentin Tarantino. The two-part episode involved the entire team working together on an intense case to save their colleague who had been buried alive.
At first, I resisted taking on another show to what my naïve younger-self thought was an already busy TV schedule - "Veronica Mars" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" on Tuesdays and "CSI: NY" on Wednesdays (because I'll watch just about anything that stars Gary Sinise). But I was hooked and I quickly binged on the first five seasons on DVD, which took many trips to the local video store and Netflix orders via snail mail to accomplish.
Watching "CSI," I discovered the extraordinary talent that is William Petersen (in between binge sessions, I squeezed in viewings of "Manhunter" and "To Live and Die in LA"). The Grissom-Sara (Jorja Fox) relationship - GSR - captured my heart and ended on a happy, albeit cheesy, note as they sailed off into the sunset in the series finale.
The brotherhood shared between Nick (George Eads) and Warrick (Gary Dourdan) was encapsulated in some of my favorite moments and I appreciated Catherine's struggle over loyalty to her job or her family. Greg (Eric Szmanda) and Hodges (Wallace Langham) always made things interesting in the lab and Captain Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) always defended the honor of his fellow officers and CSIs.
Melinda Clarke became a fan favorite, appearing in only seven episodes as the dominatrix-turned-sex therapist Lady Heather and the only woman to ever "rattle Grissom." The seventh season was arguably the show's best with the season-long Miniature Killer arc and guest star Liev Schreiber, who filled in for Petersen when he took time off to do a play in Rhode Island.
Petersen's departure in the middle of season nine left a big hole in the series, from which it never recovered. Helgenberger held on for three more years before ceding her position to Elisabeth Shue and Ted Danson mercifully replaced Laurence Fishburne at the beginning of season 12.
"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" might have overstayed its welcome by a few seasons, but it deserves to be celebrated as one of the greatest TV shows of all time.