Ted Danson’s Move to ‘CSI’

One of TV’s most venerable institutions, “CSI” changes again this fall with the addition of Ted Danson to the cast.

From the one clip shown to writers at the TV Critics Press Association, it seems the onetime “Cheers” star brings a lightness and nuance to a lead role previously held by William Petersen and, briefly, Laurence Fisburne.

The role comes after some impressive acting turns by Danson on cable roles.

“I think I learned a lot the last couple of years, doing ‘Damages’ and ‘Bored to Death,’ that will serve me, I think, on this show,” Danson said in a panel Wednesday.

“I feel at home in a funny way, even though I’m not doing jokes. I really feel like I have walked into this perfect situation for me.”

For the writers, Danson’s character represents something new for “CSI,” a balanced person.

Throughout the years, producer Carol Mendelsohn says, the show hasn’t really had “somebody that comes in and actually has figured out how to balance job and home, work and wife, kids, that actually where the kids are an important part of his life where his wife actually calls him.

“It’s so different for us because Season 12, I mean, that’s a lot of years, and we’ve wanted to excite our audience, but to excite ourselves as writers and to excite our cast.”

Danson said he could relate a bit to his character. “I grew up around skulls. My father was an archaeologist/anthropologist in Tuscon and then later in Flagstaff, Arizona. And we would go on these digs. And as a four or five year old, I would get to play around in the ancient trash heaps, and you would find a skull, and you would be whisked away. So I grew up around skulls.”

And one story from his life could have come from a “CSI” episode.

“Once when I was 11 years old,” he said, “I was out playing with my buddies in the woods. We were playing army, and we came across a skull.”

It had patch of hair and what looked like a gunshot thorugh it.

“The archaeologist’s son went, ‘Oh, cool. Let’s play Romans and Gauls.’ [We] stuck it on the end of a pole, and off we went for the rest of the day.”

When he came home and told his father, “he went through the roof. Went looking for it with the police the next day. Couldn’t find it.

“Five years later, one of my buddies was up hiking in the same area, found that same skull again, brought it back to the museum where my father was working, put model clay on it and then drew a sketch of what the face would have looked like after molding clay on it, put it in the newspaper, and they identified him.

“That,” he said, “is my little CSI story.”

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