Fall TV: Danson Buoys, ‘CSI,’ ‘Harry’s’ Upgrades

Ted Danson has had a fantastic next act to his career.

Sure, after “Cheers” came the sitcom misstep “Ink” and “Becker,” which was a clear step down from his Sam Malone days.

Since then, though, Danson has been all over the place and pretty terrific in virtually everything he does — from his stint on “Damages” to being the best thing in HBO’s “Bored to Death.”

Perhaps that’s why casting him in “CSI” felt like a coup for CBS, but a bit of a letdown for the actor’s admirers. There are limits, after all, to what you can do in those crime procedurals, and Danson’s gift for idiosyncratic characters could easily be wasted.

Happily, having previewed the first couple of episodes, he’s instantly grabbed the part and made it his own. And the new boss is quirky enough that it introduces a new dynamic to the program, since the rest of the team clearly doesn’t know what to make of him.

Will that be enough to get me to watch “CSI” again — and to bring tons of people to the show on its new night and time? I’ll say “No” and “maybe,” but it’s still easy to admire how Danson can make even the dry procedural stuff crackle in a way it hasn’t for awhile.

Meanwhile, NBC’s “Harry’s Law” also moves to Wednesdays starting Sept. 21, with a multi-part storyline that showcases a pretty formidable array of talent in addition to star Kathy Bates.

Not only does Alfred Molina play a guy on trial for his life, but Mark Valley joins the firm and Jean Smart is the prosecutor. In addition, Christopher McDonald‘s offbeat lawyer Tommy Jefferson has been upgraded to Harry’s office mate, adding a zany element similar to the vibe David E. Kelley previously created on “Boston Legal.”

This isn’t the most exciting of stuff, obviously, but Kelley and company have certainly upgraded the cast, and if you’re in the market for smartly written legal shenanigans, you could do worse.

The truth is both shows will likely skew to an AARP audience — a lot of viewers who already hobble, without needing their ankles broken — but I have a feeling they’ll also both be standing at the end of the season.

Sometimes, it pays off to be the least of a network’s problems.

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