'CSI: Miami' Returns With a Bloody Bride
It's Monday, Feb. 25, in Manhattan Beach, Calif., on the first day back at work for the cast and crew of CBS' forensic drama "CSI: Miami," which returns to the schedule with new episodes starting Monday, March 24 -- making it the first of the prime-time network dramas to do so.
Enjoined from writing at all during the strike, which ended just before Valentine's Day, the show's writers had to ramp up to full creative speed as quickly as possible.
"I'm thrilled," says executive producer Ann Donahue, sitting in her office, surrounded by "Miami" memorabilia. "I'm proud of our gang. I think our first day back was last Wednesday, and within five business days, we had our first script. It's a great story. It's called 'You May Now Kill the Bride.'"
Written by Barry O'Brien, the story line has Lt. Horatio Caine (David Caruso), investigator Calleigh Duquesne (Emily Procter) and the rest of the team probing the tragic death of a bride.
Over the break, says Donahue, she was reading about the popularity of gentlemen's clubs ("Which is a nice name for strip club," she says) with both men and women.
"So," she says, "we just wed those two worlds of the gentlemen's club and a wedding and how different men and women are and how sometimes it can end up in murder."
"We have a wedding and a murder and a baseball player," writer/producer Sunil Nayar says. "We dive into everything that Miami is that is sexy and dark and fun. So our goal is to bring not just the characters back, but the whole show, in the first episode."
Plans are for the show to wind up with 21 episodes this season, and since production is set to wrap at the beginning of May, Donahue says, "We're filming six days a week. We work over the weekends. I was doing casting over the weekend."
Down on the set for the CSI lab, O'Brien says, "The soul of this episode is a good, solid, old-fashioned 'CSI: Miami' mystery. The teaser is a high-profile wedding, and a young bride is cut down right before she says, 'I do.' There's blood on the white dress, blood on the veil.
"Every one of our CSIs connects to this victim. To me, that makes the best episodes of 'CSI: Miami,' when our crime-scene investigators are all connected to solving the crime because of an emotional resonance with this tragedy."
Also on tap is an upcoming two-part episode partly set (but not shot) in Brazil, which continues the story line of Horatio and his ex-lover Julia Winston ( Elizabeth Berkley) -- also the mother of Horatio's troubled son (Evan Ellingson) -- which began in the last original episode, aired on Jan. 14.
After finishing up a scene in which he and Procter make an unexpected discovery on the undercarriage of a Rolls-Royce, Caruso adjourns to his trailer.
"How about that ride?" he says of the car. "That's a lot of money, that ride. That's a lot of insurance. It goes for $360,000, not that I would know. But that's a nice ride."
Regarding the Brazil episode, he says, "Yes, the Julia story. It's my understanding that she's setting a little trap for me, in classic Julia fashion, so I have to face the music in Brazil.
"We had created an interesting hook in that story line. I think we didn't want to wait too long for that to dissipate. We wanted to get back on the horse right away, because we knew we were onto something.
"We have this little misguided family floating around, and we're going to try to mine that, because it's pretty cool. They are amazing actors. [Elizabeth] is a fantastic actor, and [Evan's] great. He's a special kid. He's a very mold-able, interesting kid."
If Horatio has an interesting life, Calleigh's is equally so. As shown in "Bang, Bang, Your Debt," aired last October, she's not the favorite person of former CSI lab tech Dan Cooper (Brendan Fehr), whom she caught fraudulently using a credit card that belonged to slain CSI Tim "Speed" Speedle ( Rory Cochrane).
Says Nayar, "Calleigh has to deal with the fact that Cooper's mad at her. He blames her for having lost his job. He's going to mess with her in a way that gets much darker than he ever expected.
"It's never dull for Calleigh."
Back in her crisp white lab coat, Procter admits to hearing that exciting things are coming down the road for Calleigh.
"That's what I heard, too. Calleigh, she's just a magnet for the bad [guys]. I have to say, whenever we talk about things like this, people will ask me, how do I feel about this story line or that story line? I could never answer from a story-line perspective; I can only answer from a personal perspective.
"Selfishly, I'm very excited. I miss Brendan. We were all heartbroken. We were really sad it was over for Brendan, but now he's back."
Procter has just been shooting a scene with Rex Linn, who plays Detective Frank Tripp. Calleigh asks him if he had to "fire his weapon" that day, and during rehearsal, that leads to some good-natured, slightly racy banter.
Linn believes part of that is because his character is out of police uniform and back in a suit and tie.
"I'm glad to be back in a suit," he says, "because I am the sexual tension on the show. The sexual tension is really elevated when I'm in my suit. It's obvious. Look, there are a lot of pretty people on this show, but none of them has the sexual tension that I bring."