and Liza Hamm
March 30, 2009 12:00 PM

CBS, Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET |

THE NEW STAR

DRAMA

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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