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The "CSI" juggernaut has been a staple of U.S. TV schedules for a number of years and takes in a number of shows, including the first entrant into the franchise often known as "CSI" or "CSI Vegas." The police procedural has gone on to define the genre in the 21st-century as the use of forensics has become the key to solving crimes on a TV and in movies.
The "CSI Vegas" edition of the franchise started out as a serious police procedural exploring the work and lives of a group of forensics specialists working the Las Vegas graveyard shift. The group is headed by Gil Grissom, the assistant supervisor of the graveyard shift and wants to make sure all the members of his team are safe and protected throughout each night. Two of Grissom's investigators, Warwick Brown and Nick Stokes begin to discuss their careers as they prepare for another night working in Las Vegas. The two investigators are both one crime scene away from reaching the position of CSI Level Three and make a small bet over who will reach the position first over the course of the coming night.
The night begins with the suicide of a young man, Royce Harmon who has his death investigated by Grissom and CSI Supervisor, Jim Brass. The two men discover the exit wound for the bullet hole is the wrong size and shape to be self-inflicted leaving the team investigating a murder. Grissom believes he has found a major clue when he discovers a fingerprint containing traces of latex which he believes is a clue left by the murderer. However, Grissom later discovers the fingerprint belongs to a model maker who crafts fake hands from his own and was not involved in the murder.
As the night progresses, a series of crimes are committed in Las Vegas promoting the team to disperse to begin their investigations. A young trainee investigator, Holly Grubbs is attending her first crime scenes alongside the team and is taken by Grissom to the scene of a store robbery where she is threatened with a gun. Another member of the team, Catherine Willows comes to her rescue and tries to give her a pep talk to keep her spirits up as she learns about life with the "CSI Vegas" team.
Warwick is determined to continue his career with a move to CSI Level Three regardless of the consequences. Supervisor Jim Brass discovers Warwick has applied for a search warrant as he tries to move forward with his case without the authorization of the lead investigator. Brass shows his unhappiness and tells Warwick he will not work any cases that night but will act as the shadow for the newly arrived Holly Grubbs. In return for the search warrant, Warwick has promised to place a bet on a football game for the judge and leaves Holly at a crime scene to do so. Warwick believes Holly will be safe for a short period as she is working alongside a police officer, but when the officer is called away the suspect returns and tragedy strikes the "CSI Vegas" team.
Anthony E. Zuiker is the showrunner for all four editions of the U.S.-based "CSI" franchise. The writer moved to Las Vegas as a young boy with his family and went on to write the movie, "The Runner" while still in school. Zuiker was unhappy with the outcome of "The Runner" and was working as a tram driver in Las Vegas when he came up with the idea for "CSI Vegas" after watching a documentary about forensic scientists. The writer and showrunner have been criticized in some quarters for his lack of criticism of modern forensic science techniques including electronic surveillance which many see as an invasion of privacy.
The first season of "CSI Vegas" starred William Petersen as the CSI Supervisor Gil Grissom. Prior to his role in "CSI Vegas," Peterson was probably best known for his role in Michael Mann's version of the Hannibal Lector franchise, "Manhunter." Petersen has been vocal in the fact he struggled to overcome the problems posed by playing the character of Will Graham in "Manhunter" which led to him shaving off his beard and dying his hair blond. The actor left the show in the ninth season but agreed to return for guest appearances in between the stage productions he planned to undertake.
Veteran TV actor, Ted Danson joined the cast in 2011 as the latest graveyard shift supervisor for the "CSI Vegas" team. Danson brought with him a long history of success in TV and film with his breakout role in Cheers still iconic for many viewers. Danson is one of the most decorated actors in Hollywood with his TV work garnering numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, including three Golden Globe wins.
Anthony E. Zuiker has taken on many roles with his "CSI Vegas" production including writing the first two episodes of the first season which were directed by British director Danny Cannon. The director worked on a series of feature films before switching his focus to TV, including the mid-90s movies, "Judge Dredd" and "The Young Americans." During the 15 seasons and the double episode finale, "CSI Vegas" was filmed largely in California for its similarity to the streets and outskirts of Las Vegas. The iconic shots of the center of Las Vegas are often shot in the city with the cast occasionally working in the city. The show as a co-production between Jerry Bruckheimer Productions and CBS Studios with "CSI Vegas" being premiered on the CBS network.
The critical response to "CSI Vegas" has been generally positive building from season two onwards. Many professional critics pointed to the success of William Petersen as Gil Grissom as one of the most important parts of the success of the show which is reported to have been viewed by more than 70 million global viewers in 2009 alone. The response of critics improved with season one given a rating of B+ by "The Hollywood Reporter" and the second season an A- rating by the same publication. As the show reached a wide U.S. and global audience, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry secured the right to produce an exhibit based on the real science behind the show.
"CSI Vegas" was the most watched show in the world a record five times when it hit the position in 2012 winning the International Television Award for best audience three times. CBS was so impressed by the success of "CSI Vegas" that a franchise was launched beginning with "CSI: NY" and "CSI: Miami", and "CSI: Miami."