After a couple years on the long-running procedural drama on CBS, Laurence Fishburne will be stepping away and choosing not to renew his contract on the show CSI. Two and a half years ago he took over on CSI for William Peterson, who had been with the show from the start. After Peterson left in December 2008, the Emmy award winning actor Laurence Fishburne took over. Unfortunately, ratings since that moment have been in a steady decline. Whether or not they are due to declining interest in the show in general, or if interest waned because of the exit of William Peterson, it’s clear changes are being made by CBS to try to keep the once dominating drama on the air.
In addition to Fishburne leaving the show, CSI will be moving from its usual Thursday night at 9 PM time slot to 10 PM on Wednesday nights. J.J. Abrams’s Person of Interest will replace CSI in the Thursday slot. The Thursday primetime slot has always been heavily contested by an array of solid comedies for multiple decades on NBC, and now an influx of popular reality shows on ABC as well. Also, with money becoming an issue more so than ever with every Television network, and Fishburne’s contract being one of the heftiest on TV, there’s another reason for a change.
This is most likely a sign of the future demise of this once-popular series. The crime drama world has become severely watered down, which takes no TV expert to realize, and despite being sort of a pioneer for a certain style of crime drama, it’s most likely on the way out. The new spinoffs have become hipper and more energetic, and people are flocking to what’s new, even if it’s just a new location. The original always has to come to an end, and it’s not because people stopped liking the subject matter, it’s usually because a better copycat came along. In the case of CSI, with multiple changes of lead actors, and a switch in the time slot, it’s the perfect storm for a soon to come farewell season. Of course, this is not a guarantee, and CBS may pull off a powerful casting move to bring the show back in the game, but without that happening, I don’t see a way for the show to last much more than one or two seasons after this move.