The addition of Ted Danson to the CSI cast won't be the only change taking place on the veteran CBS drama in Season 12.
Danson's character, D.B. Russell, is a family man who was raised by hippies and has a healthy relationship with his work. As such, producers suggest that the new season will feature a sunnier tone. "Last season we were chasing a serial killer ... that arc has come to an end," executive producer Carol Mendelsohn said at CBS' fall TV previews. "With the introduction of our new CSI supervisor who has his own process, I think you can say it's a lighter season."
Danson replaces the departing Laurence Fishburne, whose character was last seen being investigated for the revenge killing of serial murdered Nate Haskell (Bill Irwin). Danson's character comes in to wrangle the Las Vegas CSIs, many of whom are suspected of manipulating the evidence to clear Langston's name.
"He's kind of like Phil Jackson coming in to handle a group of people who are on a slippery slope," Danson said. "He's brought in to make the team work as good as possible. He's trying to hold a crazy group of people [together]."
Danson, perhaps best known for his role on the comedy Cheers, likened his new role as a crime-solver to his days of trying to get laughs. "A sense of humor, looking for funny, takes a certain kind of intelligence," Danson said. "And it's the same brain that looks for clues and solves things. I feel at home in a funny way, even though I'm not doing jokes. I feel I've walked into a perfect situation for me."
Despite the excitement surrounding Danson's arrival, series veteran Marg Helgenberger insisted that this season would be her last on the show. ("That's what she says," Danson joked.) Helgenberger initially planned to walk away at the end of last season, but said she was convinced to stick around for Danson and to give the character a proper send-off. "[I was] having a hard time letting go," she said. "I'm not done playing this character."
CSI returns Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10/9c on CBS.