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Jorja Fox's character is written out of CSI in a way that writes her off.
By ERIC DEGGANS, Times TV/Media Critic
Published November 15, 2007
As somebody who has never really understood the popularity of CBS's three blockbuster CSI series, watching each episode is like getting random pokes from a tiny acupuncture needle every time something outlandish happens.
So watching an advance copy of tonight's installment from the mothership CSI, the last episode featuring fan protest magnet Jorja Fox, felt a little like this:
Fox's Sara Sidle and another forensics investigator are the first called to a crime scene by a nervous patrolman investigating a possible missing woman. No detectives or backup in sight. Jab!
After the abusive husband shows up and freaks out, the crime scene investigator hanging with Sidle says, "How are we going to handle this? . . . He's obviously abusing her," forgetting that her job is to collect evidence. Poke!
Evidence in a murder leads to a 12-year-old forensics genius who attended Harvard and helped her brother beat a previous murder rap by manufacturing evidence. Stab!
It's a tribute to the show's feature-film-level production values that such whoppers go down so easily. Tonight's episode opens with a shot peeking inside several levels of a busy college dorm, rushing through a window to capture a girl plunging to her death in a fall.
Because the three CSI series are among the most popular on TV, I know fans have come to terms with their biggest disconnect: People who gather forensic evidence at crime scenes are also shown interviewing suspects and solving crimes.
Still, as an occasional viewer, it feels odd watching Fox's Sidle do so much. She's matching wits with her 'tween nemesis in a showdown that seems increasingly absurd, mostly because the characters take it so seriously. Drenched in shadow and creative camera angles, the visuals spark drama that the text can't match, especially when the villain seems better suited to a bit part on a Disney Channel comedy.
Considering that Sidle recently survived a serial killer's attack, we're hardly surprised that she decides to walk away from the CSI unit to pull her life together.
Fans tried sending CBS everything from airplane banners to cash-filled envelopes to stop this exit. And her departure is open-ended enough to allow a return - presuming the Hollywood writers strike and Fox's problems with CBS are resolved - that may leave diehard supporters feeling a little victorious.
This casual viewer mostly felt disappointed. In the same way Sidle slips out of the CSI unit with little fanfare, producers eased Fox out of their rotation with an uninspired episode that mostly makes you happy this downer of a character is out the door.
Even I figure Sara deserved better.
Eric Deggans can be reached at 727 893-8521 or email@example.com See his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/media.
Jorja Fox's last scheduled appearance as Sara Sidle airs at 9 tonight on WTSP-Ch. 10.
[Last modified November 14, 2007, 23:43:58]