Though he left the show early in 2009, William Petersen and CSI producers have said he would return to his role on occasion. Now, the original cast member will reprise his famed onscreen persona, Gil Grissom, in a CSI cameo which is scheduled to air this week.
The episode entitled “The Two Mrs. Grissoms” revolves around Gil’s onscreen wife Sara (Jorja Fox) investigating a murder at a school for the deaf. During the course of her sleuthing, Sarah runs into her semi-estranged mother in-law, Betty Grissom, played by Phyllis French (ER, L.A. Law).
It seems Betty, a professor at the school, is none too fond of our gap-toothed heroine, feeling her son would be better off with someone else, someone with a little pedigree, someone like Academy Award-winner Marlee Matlin—and who can blame her. Matlin, keeping it all in the family, will join the guest star-heavy episode as Betty Grissom’s protégé, and a former love of Gil’s.
Although not seen until now, the inclusion of Gil’s mother has been hinted at since CSI’s first season. In the episode “Sound of Silence”, viewers learned Gil’s ability to sign stems from his being raised by a deaf mother.
Since his departure, the show has also hinted at Petersen’s eventual homecoming. Eschewing typical television exits like car bombs, gunfights and the ever-popular terminal illness, CSI fans know that Grissom simply left his job. He’s out there…just walking the Earth. This has given the show’s writers a chance to reference the character from time to time, to maintain his presence even though the actor no longer maintains it on a full time basis, and to make this cameo seem more organic and not just a cheap ratings ploy. However, it bares mention that Petersen is also an executive producer on the show, a fact that certainly played no small part in his return.
Whether or not the show’s decision to bring the character back—albeit very temporarily—is due to a lag in ratings since Petersen’s departure, remains to be seen. Even with the addition of Laurence Fishburne, CSI is no longer the ratings juggernaut it once was. In October 2010, the show was down 13 percent from the year before, taking Thursday night’s seventh spot—an all-time low for the series. It will be interesting to see if the ratings grab works, and if CSI can claim the top spot once more.
For better or for worse, Petersen seems to be indelibly linked to the character of Gil Grissom, and in typical actor-producer fashion has suggested a lengthier reprise in a feature film might be to his liking. “I’d love to see a CSI film. The whole world is interested in the show…(but) you have to make sure it’s not just an extended episode.”
Look for William Petersen’s return to CSI this Thursday, February 3 @9pm, on CBS
Source: Entertainment Weekly