Tonight’s CSI (9 pm/ET on CBS) was directed by Oscar-winner William Friedkin, the film legend behind two of the 1970s’ biggest blockbusters — The French Connection and The Exorcist — and the man who also helped launch the career of CSI’s William Petersen by giving him the lead in 1985’s To Live and Die in L.A.
"Every year [Petersen] says to me, ‘Why don’t you do a show for me,’ and so I made the time to do it. It was terrific — I really did it for the opportunity to work with Billy again," explains Friedkin.
That said, Petersen’s Gil takes a backseat tonight to Warrick — as the investigator’s job begins to suffer because of his pill addiction. "[Gary Dourdan] is just wonderful in it," says Friedkin. "He touches a lot of very sensitive areas." When asked if directing TV is different than films, Friedkin notes, "not very much… only [that] you have to do things a lot faster."
Having garnered a reputation for pushing the envelope, he does confess, however, that "I got a ton of notes from Standards and Practices. I was surprised, frankly." Did he try to put his stamp on the show? "I wasn’t conscious of trying to do that. It’s a top-rated show…. It’s not broke and they didn’t call me in to fix it."
The episode was written with Friedkin in mind — there’s even a chase scene. That got us thinking: Does he think his famed French car chase has ever been bettered?
"I’ve seen stuff — specifically in those Bourne films — that impresses me tremendously, and because they’re working with a bigger budget and modern technology, they can accomplish more than we were able to."
Watch more of Gil and Warrick in our Online Video Guide.
Check out the latest issue of TV Guide on newsstands now, featuring CSI's "big shake-up" and a Survivor showdown! Try four risk-free issues of TV Guide now!
Send your comments on this feature to firstname.lastname@example.org.