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Grissom, we barely knew you. Thanks for that

In midseason 2009, television, tv on 01/14/2009 at 10:09 am

Here is what I’ll miss most when Gil Grissom leaves the cool, stainless-steel offices of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation for the final time on Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET on CBS and CTV.
Well, of course, other than the H20, because all that crying — the jaysus promos get me all verklempt, for pity sake — is going to require continuous rehydration through the entire farewell episode.
What I will really miss most is the restraint. Grissom, as played by William Petersen — who is leaving the cast to return to theatre in Chicago, but remains as show producer — was most defined by what we didn’t know about him.
I recall the episode some seasons back in which it is revealed that Grissom has a hearing problem. It was gripping at the time and caused his character to begin the withdrawal (although of course, the genetic condition inherited from his mother was too neatly wrapped up by risky surgery sometime later, which cheapened the whole thing, but even so).
Says little, reveals less.
What exactly is his relationship with dominatrix Lady Heather?
What will happen between Grissom and Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox)? Remember the Season 6 finale shocker, when Grissom and Sidle are talking in bed, AND revealing that this is not a new or fleeting intimacy?
It is a rare thing for a television series to show such dramatic restraint. Especially funny that it comes in a series that, on the surface, is all about excess — the essential weekly scene(s) of violent crime, the blood spatter and CGI bullet-path/ice-pick-arc recreations and cadavers every 10 feet, peeled like onions. But there you go.
Grissom’s character — as beloved as he is by his team, by critics and viewers — is shrouded in mystery, requiring viewers to exercise their imaginations. It makes for a powerful bond. And a lucrative one. CSI is the highest-rated scripted drama in the U.S. and has often been so in its nine-year run. The arrival of Grissom’s replacement, former pathologist and academic Dr. Raymond Langston (Laurence Fishburne), gave the already vigorous series a good ratings bump.
Can we hope that Langston, as different from Grissom as he is, will be as rewarding a character to follow?
Stay tuned. In the meantime, check out Entertainment Weekly, which is just too proud of what it claims as the notoriously publicity-averse Petersen’s only interview.
And here, just to prime your tear ducts, is a clip from Episode 9, 19 Down from Dec. 11, in which Grissom reveals his plans to leave.

— Denise Duguay


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