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Jorja on My Mind: CBS Bungles Sara Sidle's CSI Exit



When I finally sat down to watch an advance copy of tonight's CSI showing the exit of fan protest magnet Jorja Fox, I couldn't help thinking of Devon Pierce.Csifanpierce_2

If you're a regular blog reader, you know I wrote about Pierce weeks ago, outlining her efforts from a room in her father's Dunedin hearing aid clinic to run a massive fan effort aimed at convincing CSI producers to keep Fox's Sara Sidle character on the show.

Now, her friendship with CSI's writers have led Pierce to turn her prodigious talents to supporting the Writer's Guild of America in their strike. Fans organized through her site have sent food to picketers, flown planes overhead with supportive banners and encouraged fans to join writers on the picket line at Universal studios in Los Angeles tomorrow.

Jorjafoxconcern Despite all the fan furor, Fox and CSI producers eventually admitted that Sidle would be written out of the show, and tonight's episode is her last. And even though I've never liked the CSI franchise much, I made a point of watching this episode, convinced by fans like Devon to take another look at the series.

As you'll see in this review I wrote for today's paper, I found watching CSI episodes comparable to getting random pokes from a tiny acupuncture needle; jabs delivered every time something totally outlandish happens onscreen.

Which meant watching this week's episode went down like this: I see Fox’s Sara Sidle and another CSI tech are the first cops called to a crime scene by a nervous patrolman investigating a possible missing woman – no detectives or backup in sight. Jab!Jorjafoxphotographc12119151

After the abusive husband shows up and freaks out, the tech hanging with Sidle wonders “How are we going to handle this?...He’s obviously abusing her,” forgetting that, as a CSI tech, her job basically is to collect evidence. Poke!

Evidence in another 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!

Csicover It’s a tribute to the show’s feature film-level production values that such storytelling 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 fatal fall.

Since this is one of the most popular shows on TV, I know fans have already come to terms with the show’s biggest disconnect; that people who gather evidence at crime scenes are also shown interviewing suspects and solving crimes on their own. Like, um, detectives.

Still, as an occasional viewer, it feels odd watching Fox’s Sidle do so much: matching wits with her Csifoxpetersen tween nemesis in a showdown which seems increasingly absurd, mostly because the characters take it so seriously. Drenched in shadow and creative camera angles, the visuals spark drama the text can’t match, especially when the villain seems better suited to a bit part on a Disney Channel comedy.

Considering that she recently survived a serial killer’s attack, we’re hardly surprised that an increasingly distant Sidle decides to walk away from the CSI unit to pull her life together.Jorjafoxlegs

Fans tried sending CBS everything from airplane banners to cash-filled envelopes to stop it. And the  actress’ departure is open-ended enough to allow a return – presuming the Hollywood writers’ strike and Fox’s problems with CBS are resolved – which 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 which most makes you happy this downer of a character is out the door.

I know I’m a newcomer to this party. But even I figure Sara deserved better. 

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:41pm]


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