The New York Times has an interesting take on the departure of Gil Grissom (William Petersen) from CSI tonight…and what it says about the current state of TV mysteries.
Nowadays it’s the evidence that fibs.
Perhaps we are finally seeing the end of cold, forensics-driven procedural, where a team of science-spouting professionals in designer clothes track one serial killer after another. But I would argue that it's not the success of "The Mentalist" that is driving the change…rather the continued popularity and durability of cable shows like "The Closer," "Saving Grace," "Monk," "Psych," and "Burn Notice" (not to mention that they are also less costly to produce than a glitzy procedural).
The new formula, which seems to take a nod from "Monk," is the eccentric detective and his no-nonsense female partner…as seen today in "The Mentalist," "Life," "Fringe," and "The 11th Hour." And there's more to come. ABC's upcoming "Castle" teams up an eccentric mystery novelist with a no-nonsense female cop. I don't know yet if the eccentric detective who can spot lies in Fox's "Life to Me" is also teamed up with a no-nonsense lady cop…but I would be surprised if he isn't.
Even with the over-reliance on that formula, I'm glad to see character making a comeback and forensics fading a bit in importance. Character is a lot more fun to watch..and to write.