Roush Review: Roll the Reboot Dice on ‘CSI: Vegas’

Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle in CSI Vegas
Review
Cliff Lipson/CBS

Sometimes the simplest formulas are the best.

As someone who self-diagnoses as suffering from crime-show fatigue, I found myself glad to welcome back that bug-crazy criminologist Gil Grissom (William Petersen) — though his delayed entrance is an unnecessary bow to convention — and his beloved fellow traveler Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) to CBS in CSI: Vegas. The network’s ratings fortunes were revived 21 years ago by the original CSI’s explosive instant success, and while that’s unlikely to occur again in this fragmented and procedural-clogged TV landscape, this is one of those comebacks that might actually make some welcome noise.

With its science-nerd, high-tech aesthetic, flashy camerawork, and grisly visual flourishes, CSI always stood out and does again with a mostly clever reboot. CSI: Vegas introduces strong new players, including Paula Newsome as flinty lab boss Maxine Ruby and Friday Night Lights Matt Lauria as quietly wry investigator Joshua Folsom, who’s given to observations like, “The less there is to look at, the longer it takes to see what’s missing.” He and Gil ought to get along just fine.

But it’s the returning players most CSI fans are interested in, and that hook delivers early on when retired Capt. Jim Brass (Paul Guilfoyle) withstands a violent attack that compels him to bring Sara and eventually Gil back to Sin City. The investigation soon uncovers a conspiracy that could imperil the original team’s integrity. “We’re not the ones looking through the microscope this time. We are under it,” frets Maxine.

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'I think you will see Sara and Grissom the way that we remember them. At the same time I think we both hope that we have evolved,' Fox teases.

Gil, ever the stoic, refuses to be shaken, not even by sentiment when a former colleague is on the ropes. “Science will tell us if how things look is how they really are,” he insists, later telling the suspect and one-time co-worker, “You know my stance on human testimony.… I side with the robots.”

Happily, some things, and heroes, never change.

CSI: Vegas, Series Premiere, Wednesday, Oct. 6, 10/9c, CBS