CBS will be the place to be this fall to find the expansions of successful TV franchises with some new shows, with CSI making a comeback after more than six years off the air. The original CSI ran for fifteen seasons, and the upcoming CSI: Vegas will bring back stars William Petersen, Jorja Fox, and others to join a crew of newcomers. While the newcomers would be easy enough for new viewers to adjust to, a big question is: would new viewers need to already be CSI experts to enjoy Vegas?
It's a question that can really apply to any TV brands that expand by adding new shows, and CBS actually is doing that with the NCIS and FBI franchises as well as CSI this fall. CBS Entertainment President Kelly Kahl recently explained the reasoning behind expanding the proven brands like CSI rather than just going for all new series that exist outside of a franchise. At the CBS TCA Summer press tour, Kahl said:
This fall, you’ll see us leaning into extensions of big, scripted brands like NCIS, FBI, and CSI. I know some of you ask why, and the simple answer is that these powerful franchises check every single box for success in the current tv landscape. They still garner audiences in the tens of millions on live linear broadcast, dwarfing the vast majority of shows on all other platforms. They have millions of viewers that watch on a delayed basis, they are major streaming magnets, and they remain incredibly popular globally.
CSI may have ended back in 2015 after fifteen seasons, but that doesn't necessarily mean that CSI: Vegas doesn't have the potential to be a big hit. In fact, CSI itself had no fewer than three spinoffs in its time thanks to CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, and CSI: Cyber. Plus, CSI isn't too hard to find streaming despite coming to an end years ago, with the full run available on Hulu, several seasons on Paramount+, and a dedicated CSI channel on Pluto. So new fans have been able to find CSI even in the years since it went off the air.
Still, that doesn't mean that new viewers will be able to jump right into CSI: Vegas and follow along while the original series characters potentially pick up where they left off. Fortunately, CBS Entertainment took that potential conundrum into account. CBS Entertainment Senior Executive Vice President of Programming Thom Sherman explained why CSI (along with the new NCIS and FBI series) can have a broad appeal even beyond fans of the existing properties:
At the top of the list in drama this fall are new iterations of our powerful global brands. NCIS: Hawai’i, FBI: International, and CSI: Vegas extend the stories our audiences love, but they’re also unique in their own rights and absolutely could stand alone and stand apart even if they weren’t part of these mega-franchises.
While the new CSI will extend the stories of William Petersen's Gil Grissom and Jorja Fox's Sara Sidle for the existing fans who have been missing the original show and familiar faces, Vegas will be able to stand on its own without relying on nostalgia from returning viewers. Newcomers can check out Vegas without necessarily feeling lost in the plot or needing to hit up Pluto or Hulu or Paramount+ to start binge-watching before the new show can premiere.
CSI: Vegas will see the new team of investigators facing an existential threat so signficant that it could not only bring down the Crime Lab, but also reverse the convictions of thousands of killers and release them onto the streets of Las Vegas. The new team of investigators will be plenty talented, and the returns of Grissom, Sara, and Hodges (played by Wallace Langham) shouldn't hurt!
Catch the series premiere of CSI: Vegas on Wednesday, October 6 at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. Wednesday nights are competitive in primetime, and the new show will be directly up against One Chicago's Chicago P.D. That said, Vegas is also part of a formidable block of primetime, starting with the long-awaited Season 41 of Survivor.