Update: For those of you tracking the ratings war on Thursday, ''CSI'' edged ''Grey's Anatomy'' in total viewers last night, while ''Grey's'' again had a sizable lead among viewers 18 to 49 years old. Both ''CSI'' and ''Grey's'' are still sizable hits, with close to 23.5 million viewers for the CBS show and about 23.3 million for ''Grey's.''
Going back to at least ''China Beach,'' Marg Helgenberger has had a great face -- beautiful but with a care-worn quality that doesn't hide the fact that she can also be tough as nails. ''CSI'' has been putting that look to good use in the two episodes this season, especially in Thursday's wrenching hour.
Over the years, ''CSI'' has been for me the kind of show ''Law & Order'' is for a lot of other people: something you don't necessarily seek out, but that you stop in for, have a good hour, then move on. But I've been watching ''CSI'' to see how it's doing as it battles ''Grey's Anatomy,'' and getting drawn deeper into it, even when it does things I don't like.
For one thing, did they really have to gun down Sam? ( A digression: If you're a fan of Scott Wilson, who has played Sam, check out ''Junebug.'' It's pretty much Amy Adams's movie -- and drags when she's not part of the action -- but Wilson is wonderfully understated in a supporting role.) On the other hand, there's the elaborate, serialized mystery, the acting and the bursts of humor -- I loved the singing of the cause of death. I don't need another hour of television, especially not in the overstuffed lineup on Thursday nights. But I'm not ready to give this one up yet.
When I mentioned in last night's post all the things I was watching or recording, I knew I had left something off the list. And it was ''Shark,'' the James Woods drama that had its second airing last night. Woods is still great fun to watch, and the show emphasizes his nervous energy by having him and the camera in seemingly constant motion. It was also amusing to put Shark in the context of real-life Hollywood big shots, with Robert Shapiro and Wolfgang Puck in his poker game, and to see how the character is being molded more closely to Woods. The actor, for example, is a very serious poker player in real life.
But when you get past Woods, it's still not much of a show -- way too glib in the way it wrapped up the case last night. If I was casting about for a show at 10 p.m. Thursday, I might check in with it again. But all the stuff I've recorded earlier in the evening is still sitting in the DVR as 10 o'clock arrives, so I don't really need another show in that hour.