Sure, every culture has its unique customs. Societies across the world differ from one another in countless ways. But deep down, people are people. Everyone on Earth is, essentially, cut from the same mold. In truth, all anybody really wants is to relax and watch Ted Danson examine a dead body for traces of semen. You can’t argue with statistics: CSI has been named the most watched television show on the planet — the CBS crime procedural took home the International Television Audience Award for a Drama TV Series from the 52nd Monte-Carlo Television Festival.
The Huffington Post reports that CSI won the title with an international viewership of over 63 million. This is the fifth time since 2005 that CSI has been named the most watched show in the world.
What makes Las Vegas-based forensic crime scene investigation such a winner among viewers? Why is this show unequivocally more watchable than anything else on television?
It is a time-tested truth that people love a good procedural. As a matter of fact CSI’s only competition this year was its own two offshoot series: CSI: Miami and CSI: NY, which recently concluded their tenth and eighth seasons, respectively. Additionally, the only recent International Television Award drama not of the CSI family tree (Miami has also claimed the victory) was the Fox drama House, which is often referred to unofficially as a medical procedural.
The genre is approachable for casual viewers, not generally requiring any prior knowledge of the series, characters, or seasonal plot to invest yourself in an episode. It is also reliable to diligent viewers, who can count on a consistent quality due to the episodes’ standardized formula. But what specifically separates CSI from its procedural peers — you’d think that Law & Order, which, odds are, is on at least one channel at whatever time you are reading this, might be in the running. But no such luck.
One theory might be casting. CSI has maintained a relatively consistent cast, with the exception of recent dropout Marg Helgenberger. Plus, the show’s newcomers, Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue, work to both keep the program fresh while maintaining an air of familiarity — enough people already loved these two actors from their past work that welcoming them onto the show was no great effort. On the contrary, Law & Order: SVU recently lost its beloved leading man Christopher Meloni, and brought in two young unknowns (Kelli Giddish and Danny Pino) to take the series’ focus. While television in general might garner the best ratings from youthful hot people, the procedural audience favors cast members they feel like they’ve known for years.
That right there might explain the CSI phenomenon. Albeit a year younger than Law & Order: SVU, CSI maintains the most familiarity with its viewers. You know what you’re getting, you know who will be on to give it to you (Sam Malone and that girl from all those ’80s movies). And most of all, you know what you’re supposed to feel. The cops — they’re good. The crimes — they’re bad. And the people who commit them — they’re worse. It’s simple, fun, and a sure-fire deliverer.
[Photo Credit: CBS]