Over the summer, veteran CBS procedural CSI had the unenviable task of replacing its series lead for the second time in three seasons. And while a number of stars' names were bandied about, executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Don McGill could think of only one man to follow in the footsteps of Laurence Fishburne and William Petersen: Ted Danson.
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1. Sam Malone, Cheers
D.B. Russell won't be able to lead this team without some strong interpersonal skills. As baseball hero-turned-bartender Sam, Danson was a guy everybody loved to be around, whether the beer was flowing or not. And if you don't think he had chemistry with his co-stars, remember the romantic tension he built with not one, but two female leads. (Sam + Diane 4-EVA.)
2. Arthur Frobisher, Damages
On the flip side, Russell is more than a people person. In fact, he's desperately trying to restore order to a team that's gone too long playing by their own set of rules. Before Danson played a sleazy billionaire CEO on FX's intense thriller, many might have thought him incapable of ruling with an iron fist. While family man Russell most likely won't be sleeping with Vegas hookers in the back of SUVs or ordering hits on his coworkers, he will be rather forceful when it comes to putting his charges in their place. (Just ask George Eads' Nick, who incurs a frightening talking-to just for filing one of his reports a few hours late.)
3. Jack Holden, 3 Men and a Baby
As we mentioned above, Russell is a married father of four, so he knows a few things about raising children. But many times on CSI, including on the Season 12 premiere, Russell will have to work with troubled youth on or around his crime scenes. All that practice sharing the screen with a baby (and, in the sequel, a little lady) shows through in a pivotal scene in which he wins over a 10-year-old eyewitness with the help of an invisible tennis ball.
Ted Danson hired as new star of CSI
4. George Christopher, Bored to Death
As a pot-smoking, womanizing magazine editor, Danson gets to have all sorts of wacky fun on this HBO private-eye comedy. (How many other characters would begin dating their urologist after being diagnosed with prostate cancer?) Russell, who was raised by hippie parents on a commune, has his own share of quirks. Example? He gets inside the minds of victims by laying in their chalk outlines at crime scenes.
5. Ted Danson, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Few people do cringeworthy dark comedy better than Larry David. As a recurring guest on the show, we imagine Danson has picked up a few tricks of the trade. How else to explain why we laughed so heartily at Danson's reaction to learning the finer points of "tentacle erotica" from lab CSI tech David Hodges (Wallace Langham)?
CSI premieres Wednesday at 10/9c on CBS. Do you think Danson will fit in?