Picks and Pans Review: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

updated 03/30/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/30/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

CBS, Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET |

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It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, bringing in Laurence Fishburne to join CSI while William Petersen headed out, taking his gray whiskers with him. Six months later a good idea was clearly an inspired one. Fishburne has taken his place in the ensemble with firm authority. He's Raymond Langston, a doctor and specialist in the psychology of murder, recruited from academia. Langston is still learning the ropes, just as Fishburne has said he's exploring the character. Which isn't to say he's a puppy chasing balls. Over the years Fishburne has become heavier, with an imposing head and frame, yet his delivery is drily pleasant, sometimes delicate. A recent episode's high ratings owed a lot to having Taylor Swift in a guest role, but Fishburne owned the hour: At the end he summed up a tough night of crime-solving with a small, simple speech rooted in tired compassion.

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