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Six reasons why CSI will miss Gil Grissom - VIDEO

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 15th 2009 11:03AM
PetersenIt's the end of an era on CSI. The Las Vegas Crime Lab is losing the head man. Gil Grissom is packing up his office and leaving Las Vegas. The night shift supervisor, the most influential scientist on the staff, Dr. Gilbert "Gil" Grissom will be a character that won't easily be forgotten, let alone replaced.

If Laurence Fishburne is wise, he'll work with the producers and writers to make Raymond Langston a very different kind of leader.

Looking back at the Grissom years, there are distinctive beats that William Petersen brought to the character and the show. To me, there are six reasons why Grissom will be hard to replace.

But first, listen to what the actor himself has to say about leaving:

1) He loved the science
In a lot of ways, before Chuck (Chuck) and Sheldon (Big Bang Theory), Gil Grissom embraced the joy of geekdom on TV. Grissom really dug the science of criminology, every fiber, hair, print and speck. If there were bugs involved, all the better since that's his specialty. Grissom munched on chocolate-covered grasshoppers and could wax rhapsodic about maggots. Somehow, Petersen made all that tech talk seem very charming because he was so matter-of-fact and at ease about it all. Ironically, the actor isn't a college grad, he's just a really good actor.

2) Just a little bit eccentric
From the start, Grissom was never a conventional leader. He was eccentric. Not goofy, absent-minded eccentric. He was "I-don't-care-what-you-think-of-me" eccentric. That's why he could go to a crime scene in the desert wearing a ridiculous straw hat and pull it off. He was an iconoclast. Compared to someone like Horatio Cane on CSI: Miami, with the sunglasses and the hands on the hips posing, Grissom was the anti-Cane.

3) And just a little bit kinky, too
Grissom had a secret life. We don't know what it was exactly because it was secret. When Gil's romance with Sara was finally revealed, viewers were stunned. So while Gil was in every many ways a geek, he was never sexually inexperienced or inept. At least not that we know... Of course the one character who might be able to reveal all about Gil, besides Sara, was Lady Heather. Lady Heather is a Las Vegas dominatrix who had an interesting relationship with Gil. They shared a meeting of the minds, and perhaps a meeting in some other way, but that's purely speculation. Grissom reminded me of Mr. Spock in this area, forever fascinated by human sexuality and even amused. When Gil encountered a group that was involved in mascot sex -- big, furry costumed participants -- he accepted their kinkiness without blinking. You kind of had the impression that Grissom could quote from the Kama Sutra, whether or not he ever tried all the positions.

4) Leading by example
The night shift has always been an eclectic group of scientists, in part because they have all emulated Grissom. As the number one guy, he lead by example. When Grissom worked a case, he was a perfectionist, exacting and dedicated to the task. Catherine, Warrick and Nick seem to channel Gil when they're on the job, and characters like David, Greg and Hodges -- not to mention Sara -- have been mentored by Grissom. In previews of the finale, Nick says that he'll never forget what he learned from Gil. That would seem to be true of most of the techs.

5) No politics
While Grissom was clearly the man in charge, he was a leader because of his intelligence and experience. He was never the kind of man to campaign for the position or to use politics to advance his career. In fact, one of Grissom's great strengths was shielding his team from the outer influences. When Warrick got into trouble and his career was hanging by a thread, Gil protected him. He blasted him privately, but he defended him to higher ups. Grissom knew how to maneuver among the sheriff department and the city officials, usually letting Captain Brass be his shield. All of this was for practical expediency, to get the job done. It was never about power or gain for Grissom.

6) Close but not intimate
Catherine is one of Gil's closest friends. She knows him very well. However, even she wouldn't know much about the real Grissom. His background, his family, his world outside of the lab, it's all a little mysterious and that's how Grissom prefers it. He was close to Warrick, too, even to the point of being emotional shattered by his horrific death. But Grissom chose whom to embrace and how intimately. In two scenes in the first part of the two-part exit, this attachment/detachment was vividly illustrated. When David in the morgue comments that Gil will miss the work, Gil looked into his face and said, "I'll miss you." David nearly fell over. He had never anticipated an overt show of friendship from Gil. It just wasn't like him. Then, there was Gil's exchange with Brass about his departure. The two compatriots on the job talked of getting together in the future and "taking out the boat." Without a beat, Gil asked, "You have a boat?" Clearly, socializing outside the office wasn't something these two ever did, or ever would in the future.

So leaving Las Vegas for Gil Grissom is likely to have a greater impact on those who will miss his presence, especially viewers. Interesting, vexing, complicated and unusual, Petersen's interpretation of Grissom has left a mark on CSI. For the character, the door will remain open and some time down the line, they'll bring him back for an unusual case or a puzzle that only he would know how to solve. It will be a welcomed return.

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I watched the first episode of CSI for 3 reasons: Marg Hellenberger (Loved her on China Beach), William Peterson (Loved him in that Red Dragon Movie) and for the science. I've still got 2 out of 3 original reasons....AND "Nick, David, Greg, Hodges, Brass and all the other little scooby's in the lab." PLUS Lawrence Fishbburne as an added benefit. I'll still be watching!!!

January 19 2009 at 10:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
diana bichsel

i think if grissam leaves you all will lose a lot of viewers and the show will go down the tolit. and the ratings will drop a bunch and i mean down down down . grissam is the show. thank you

January 18 2009 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Grissom (and his bugs) will be missed.

And it's more likely that Catherine will take over - she's the most senior CSI, iirc.

January 16 2009 at 11:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bryan Price

I agree with Bas, I've liked William since "To Live and Die in LA", but that's been quite a stretch from then to CSI.

My take on Gil is that his MBTI (Meyers-Brigg Temperment Indicator) is INTP (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiver see intp.org), the same as mine. The first season really doesn't show this. But as his character has grown, he has definitely become an INTP stereotype.

My only complaint is that he is backwards a bit as an INTP in his growth. You don't become his age (one year younger than I am almost to the day) without some actual emotional development. But that does seem to have accelerated in the past couple of years.

I'd love to know if WP is an INTP like his character. Yes, some actors are actually intoverts.

January 15 2009 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm going to miss him. But when they bring him back for specials, wow gonna be great!!!

January 15 2009 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Grissom's departure marks a major milestone in CSI's history. I personally will hope and pray the show will survive since he's such an integral part of the fabric of the show. My only complaint was his romance with *ugh* Sara...it just seems like it's out of character for a professional like him to get involved with a subordinate, and Lady Heather would seem a more suitable romantic interest for him IMHO.

January 15 2009 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Wayne's comment

i've always loved the Lady Heather character, and always look forward to when she's on

January 16 2009 at 12:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched the first episode of CSI because of William Peterson - I've loved him since "To Live and Die in LA," and would see him in anything. It remains the only CSI that I watch. I tried to give the others a chance, but they killed off Speed, the only character I liked on Miami, and the NY episodes are almost as cheesy as the Miami ones.

I've always enjoyed Laurence Fishbourne, so I hope that they can make his character interesting.

January 15 2009 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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