Now that the initial burst of excitement surrounding Jorja Fox's “CSI” comeback has died down, it's time to get down to business — the business of getting answers to some burning questions! What prompted her return? How long will she be sticking around? What impact will Sara's reappearance have on the rest of the team? And, last but not least, is Grissom next? “CSI” showrunners Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar tackle all those Qs and then some.
AUSIELLO: Jorja's back for five episodes, right?
CAROL MENDELSOHN: Yes, five non-consecutive episodes.
AUSIELLO: The show took a little bit of a ratings hit towards the end of last season. Did CBS ask you to bring her back as a way to halt the slide?
MENDELSOHN: No. It actually emanated from Naren and I. It's a tough time for everybody in TV. We don't feel [it's fair] to single out “CSI.”
NAREN SHANKAR: We had several major characters departing over the last year and a half, and it felt like the family had disintegrated a little bit. We had people off in their own bubbles, and that suggested a theme for this season, which is really about family. We wanted to restore that balance of the family. And that initial creative impulse led to the notion of Jorja coming back and helping to assist with that.
AUSIELLO: How is she reintegrated?
SHANKAR: We'll learn a little bit about what she's been doing for the past couple of months. We're going to start season 10 in real time — two-and-a-half months since the end of last season. She comes in because the team is a little understaffed and overworked. One of our characters reaches out to her and brings her back in, unbeknownst to the other guys.
MENDELSOHN: It's an interesting dynamic because each and every individual in the team is feeling that lack of cohesion. Catherine feels it. Nick feels it. Greg feels it. And Sara comes in and brings everyone together. And she helps Catherine understand that as the [new] leader, she needs to make the team cohesive and really fire on all cylinders again.
AUSIELLO: Should we assume that her happily ever after with Grissom didn't fare so well? They did end up together, right?
SHANKAR: They absolutely ended up together. Grissom is referenced in [Fox's first] episode. You'll get a sense of the good and the bad of the two of them actually being together for real. Because we're talking about a couple of very independent individuals who have decided to share their life together. The first few months of that for any couple would be a weird kind of adjustment. In some ways, it's easier to be in love with somebody who's not there.
MENDELSOHN: And you have to admit that Sara and Grissom had a unique courtship. It [makes sense] that their further relationship would also be unique.
AUSIELLO: So they didn't break up then?
AUSIELLO: When's William Petersen returning?
MENDELSOHN: You never know when and if Grissom will show up on CSI. The theme of the season is family. And he certainly is part of the family -- a big part of the family.
AUSIELLO: Are there any concrete plans?
MENDELSOHN: We're certainly open to it, but no, there are no concrete plans.