For the past couple of seasons, the “CSI: NY” producers and writers have created season finales that could also be series finales — just in case the procedural drama didn’t get a pick up for another season. Such was the case last May with the “Near Death” episode. In it, Mac (Gary Sinise) was shot and hovered between life and death in limbo. While there, he shared special moments with members of his CSI team and with his late wife, Claire (Jaime Ray Newman).
When we return, it will be business as usual — with a twist we reveal below — with a case of the week. In the premiere episode, a friend of Mac’s — a fire chief — is killed in a blaze set by an arsonist — and the M.O. is very similar to that of a recently released convict.
“This year, we are doing the unexpected,” says executive producer Pam Veasey in an exclusive interview with XfinityTV.com. “We are taking the characters to an unexpected place in their personal lives and the stories to an unexpected place. This year, we throw caution to the wind, and take a left turn — either on the concept of the episode or the lives of our characters — so the audience goes, ‘Wow! That is satisfying.’”
“CSI: NY” returns for its ninth season on Friday, Sept. 28, but first we spoke to Veasey and xxecutive producer Zach Reiter to get the inside story on the upcoming season.
Where do we rejoin the story? At the end of the eighth season finale, we saw a montage of happy events — in case it turned out to be the final-ever episode — of Mac returning to work and being greeted by his team. In the season premiere, in addition to moving forward, we are also going to get a bit of a review of what happened in the time between his getting out of the hospital and going back to work.
“It would seem natural to pick up six months later and show the aftermath of that, show a little bit of flashback of his rehabilitation, and what if any side effects there will be to the shooting, which there will be,” Reiter says.
What are the side effects? Even though Mac has physically recovered from his bullet wounds, there are emotional scars. During this season, Veasey tells us they will become evident.
“What we wanted to do was get past the physical rehab, but there will be some surprising psychological [aspects], small little hints of what he has gone through. We want that to happen,” Veasey adds. “That is where we start, so we can talk about the challenges with that.”
Will Mac move forward with Christine? While Mac was in limbo, one of his most heartwarming encounters was with his late wife Claire. It was almost as if he needed to get her approval before he could move forward with his relationship with Christine (Megan Dodds).
“Claire was the love of his life and that was a big mental block for him in moving on,” Reiter says. “In a moment where he thought his life was ending, to get that permission enabled him to carry on a relationship in a meaningful way.”
“When Mac was in a relationship with Peyton (Claire Forlani), she pursued him,” Veasey says. “This is him making a continued pursuit, driving toward that relationship. He did need Claire to say, ‘Go, don’t give up on this. Don’t give up on the hard stuff.’”
What is going to be different about this season? As is true with most procedural dramas, “CSI: NY” has focused more on cases than the personal lives of its team of investigators. True, we have gone home with Danny (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Lindsay (Anna Belknap) and met their daughter, as well as Jo’s (Sela Ward) daughter and Don Flack’s (Eddie Cahill) sister. But this season we are going to see more of that and spend time with the CSIs when they take a day off.
“Not the whole show, but we are going to go home with one of our people,” Veasey says. “You will see the challenges they live with, some of their problems. They don’t always bring everything to work, even though they are a family. They have a job that calls for their undivided attention. So there will be stories that will really resonate with their history and relationships with siblings and parents. It will be about family growth and personal growth outside of work.”
A new romance: Danny and Lindsay have each other, Mac has Christine, so this season it is going to be Flack’s turn to get a little loving when Det. Lovato transfers to his precinct.
“We are adding a really terrific actress Natalie Martinez and there may be a hot, little fire going on between those two,” says Veasey. “It is very reminiscent of the last detective with who he had a relationship. She is clearly his type. He tries to resist it, but he can’t resist what is just inevitable.”
Will Jo follow through on the vow she made in the finale: In the season finale, Jo realized that she didn’t know Mac as well as she thought, so this season, she follows up on the promise she made to herself to be a better friend.
“I think we will be toying with that throughout the season,” Reiter says. “I think in that moment, she realized there was a lot about Mac that she didn’t know. I think in that moment she realized she loves him a lot more than she ever realized.”
“CSI: NY” premieres its ninth season on Friday, Sept. 28 at 8/7c on CBS.