Interview: Ted Danson, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

634535090038530000Ex-Cheers man Ted Danson helped to breath new life into CSI when he joined the cast at the start of season 11. As DB Russell he exhibits that classic combination of friendly authority. He’s a bit like the David Attenborough of crime drama. Anyway, CSI returned to Channel 5 this week for its 14th series, and one of the biggest shows in the world and relentlessly consistent around welcomes back Danson, Elizabeth Shue and co for more incredible cases as well as its 300th episode. We managed to get hold of an interview with the man himself, so here it is!

The Killing Times: How did the Season 13 finale set the stage for Season 14?
Ted Danson: We ended up the last season with several people in jeopardy. Morgan had just been kidnapped while trying to go undercover to discover who our killer was and Ellie Brass, Jim Brass, Paul Guilfoyle‟s character, had been kidnapped as well, so I think the last kind of line was, you have to choose, Paul, which child lives, which dies. So it was very kind of dramatic and very scary and I don‟t want to give anything away because it‟s kind of a very complicated plot, but I will say people die, people die and that‟s very sad. It‟s a very sad, very sad beginning.

TKT: How does it feel to reach 300 episodes of CSI?
TD: I am standing on the shoulders of an incredible group of actors, you know, Marg who is coming back this week to shoot some stuff, George Eads, Jorja Fox, lord, Eric Szmanda, who else? Paul Guilfoyle, they have all been here for 14 years and some of the others have been here for you know 10, nine years and I have been here for two, so I feel very blessed. The guy who is directing our show, Alec Smight, this week, the 300th, was here from day one as an editor and Carol Mendelsohn is still, you know, along with Don [McGill], is still leading the ship, so it’s really a… I think it’s a testament to the show that you have crew members and cast members that have been here since day one, you know, 14 years, that‟s pretty astounding.

TKT: Why has CSI made it to 300 episodes?
TD: One of the reasons why this show is still on the air after 300 episodes is because they do as well on the 300th episode as they did on the first. The writers, the producers give the audience an airtight forensic mystery based 90% on science, so you get to play along and try to discover in a legitimate way who did this crime. You try to solve it yourself. It’s beautifully shot and you have grown to love these actors that have been with you for 300 episodes. So it’s a really tight ship and it’s really well done and people still are enjoying it all around the world, so I am really, really, really proud to be part of this show.

TKT: How does CSI remain so popular 300 episodes in?
TD: We still are putting together a really tight forensic mystery that is shot in a really beautiful, stylish manner and the actors that they have grown to love are still here after 14 years. Jimmy Burrows used to say to me on Cheers that the longer you are on TV, the longer you are on TV. I mean I think it’s comforting to be able to turn on CSI and go, “Oh! I have history with those people.” I remember George and Jorja and Paul and David and all these characters and Eric, you know, I remember them and they have been with me for 14 years and that comforts me and I am going to enjoy this show.

TKT: How was Catherine Willows able to return to CSI for the 300th episode, Frame By Frame?
TD: They discover a man who they could not, Jack Witten, who they could not prove had killed this young girl because they couldn’t find the body, but they were convinced that he had done it. And 14 years later, the same man is involved in a murder of a young girl in his house in Vegas and he is a very wealthy man and so it brings up a lot of the guy who got away, a lot of Jorja Fox’s character, you know, Sara is very… is still very angry that he got away. A lot of the characters are. So it gives a chance for Marg to come back and participate in the 300th episode in a flashback-like manner.

TKT: How does it feel to have Marg back?
TD: She is a huge reason why the show is celebrating 300 episodes, so to have her back is like perfect.

TKT: What would be your fantasy storyline for DB Russell?
TD: I would like my guy to get older. I am myself doing that, you know. I am 65, almost 66. I like the idea of somebody who is bumping up against kind of an age ceiling for this job and to kind of examine what that means, you know. Has he burned out, has he seen too much, does he still have the get up and go to lead this team? I like examining human stuff like that, so I hope that that becomes part of the show.

Look out in the coming days for interviews with Elizabeth Shue and Jorja Fox.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Tuesdays, 9pm, Channel 5

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