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TV Thursday: "CSI," "The Office," "30 Rock"

By admin Published: January 23, 2009
"The Grave Shift" -- The first day on the job for Dr. Langston (Laurence Fishburne, pictured here with Marg Helgenberger) turns from bad to worse when a simple burglary case quickly overlaps with a complicated arson and homicide case, on CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION, Thursday, January 22, (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Adam Taylor/CBS �2008 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

We've gotten to know a little bit about new "CSI" guy Ray Langston in the transition episodes dealing with Grissom's departure, but last night's show gave us the first detailed look at him. We knew he was smart but what was interesting about last night's show was to see how eager he is to please. I don't mean kissing up -- certainly didn't do that when Hodges was being obnoxious -- as figuring out what it takes to be part of the team. ...

So there he was with so much gear (in the first dusting-for-prints scene, his fastidiousnenss and his array of equipment made me think for some reason of a Rowan Atkinson character), there he was picking up the lunch check (because he knew that the new guy was supposed to). The coat and tie: better to be a little overdressed than underdressed.

To get Hodges's attention, he didn't bow and scrape, he offered an impressive explanation of a mystery -- and one that was fun to try out to boot. At the end of the episode, for that matter, there was Langston practicing his fingerprint-lifting technique; sure, he wants to do everything well, but he also wants to be accepted in his new milieu.

This is a long way of saying I liked the episode very much. I liked it not only because of the way Langston is being brought into the mix -- not as the new boss, but as the new guy, albeit one with a certain level of distinction. Even that level of distinction is tempered: We learned that his book was not a success (and, to a CSI steeped in real-world crime, not all that impressive). And he still has things to learn about how much he should get involved emotionally, and what he can do for the people he has to deal with. Riley may be too cold about cases, but in this episode she was right -- and Langston's compassion wrong. And Laurence Fishburne is playing it all quite well.

I look forward to seeing where this goes. For a long time, I would watch "Grey's Anatomy" in real time and catch "CSI" on DVR; lately I have reversed that pattern, and I expect to keep trying it that way.

"The Office" had some fun moments, such as Dwight and Michael doing the "Jaws" theme and the iHop debate, and I liked seeing a little more of Stanley than has been visible lately (as well as Stanley's trying to deal with his anger). The brushing off of Angela was a great stroke, continuing the office's reaction to the Dwight-Andy-Angela disaster without making it the centerpiece of the episode. And Michael's finally yielding on a basic business issue -- knowing that he might be wrecking Prince Paper in the process -- reminded us that Michael is not completely insensitive but that he is still a business survivor. Indeed, as obvious as the plot was about Prince Paper, it provided lots of little sparks: Dwight's job interview, the hallway/parking-lot chase, the look on Michael's face when he got the client list.

But the whole is-Hilary-hot debate started off nicely enough and then fizzled. Even Michael's tie-break was flat; wouldn't someone have immediately demanded that Dwight vote, too? And we've seen other Michael's-away moments that were better, such as the office Olympics.

"30 Rock," I don't know. Laughed here and there. I liked Jenna-as-Janis being pranked by Frank's Wikipedia entries, but it didn't prove too imaginative in the long haul. Liz at the retreat was a replay of several other recent Liz social encounters; in fact, this episode felt like a reworking of the ideas in the reunion episode. Not my favorite -- well, except maybe for the look on Jack's face when he recalled what happened after the gay-bomb went off.

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