More than two decades ago, “CSI” broke the mold for broadcast police procedurals by following scientific evidence instead of biased or unreliable human testimony. During the 15 years the show was on and the six years since it ended, police work has been put under a much more public microscope with many bad behaviors exposed. In returning to the flagship piece of the franchise, though under a new name, the team behind the show is confronting these concerns head-on.
“CSI: Vegas” centers on a season-long arc in which a beloved former member of the team is accused of faking evidence. Some of his former colleagues, along with new members of the Las Vegas crime lab, work to uncover whether he was framed or whether dozens, if not hundreds, of cases are now tainted.
“It’s an enormous challenge and responsibility,” executive producer Jason Tracey said of doing a police-set series in this landscape. “Fortunately this franchise that Anthony [Zuiker] devised has always been about evidence and science and following the evidence wherever it may lead. We’re not a show where characters are running around with guns and slapping handcuffs on people directly. It’s a solving story, and it’s a science-based show and we take the responsibility of entering the criminal justice realm really seriously. We’re trying to tell some really thoughtful stories about getting justice for victims.”
Tracey went on to explain that technological advances that have come to light in the last half-decade are pivotal for the story they are telling as well. Specifically, he noted, there have been major strides in the area of genetics, which is why Paula Newsome’s character, who is the new head of the crime lab, has a background in that field.
“The show, I think, taught the world a lot about what DNA is, but now what scientists are able to do with DNA is really something special,” he said. “What that double helix tells you about some of these traits — phenotyping — we can now build a story around a pool of suspects Agatha Christie-style that have brown hair and blue eyes in a way that 10 years ago was simply impossible.”
“CSI: Vegas” will premiere Oct. 6 at 10 p.m. on CBS, exactly 21 years after the original series launched. Watch a new teaser for the drama below.