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'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation' Solves Its Last Case Tonight

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Tonight marks the end of an era. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation caps its 15-year run with a two-hour series finale on CBS.

Like it or not, the procedural drama CSI has had an impact on the TV landscape and American culture. Terms like “Epithelial,” “latent prints” and “mitochondrial DNA” made it into other shows and seeped into the vernacular; and a much ballyhooed “CSI effect” has been attributed to the increase in the popularity of the forensic sciences.

We’ll leave the debate to the diehard fans on exactly when the show jumped the shark (we think when Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle got together), but it’s getting a chance to wrap things up, an opportunity that’s not given to many shows, even long-standing ones like Law & Order (cancelled in 2010 after 20 years).

So in advance of tonight’s bookend episode, here are a six tidbits about CSI’s run (and the finale) we learned from the cast and creatives at a recent PaleyFest Salute to CSI:

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Who's In: The cast members who attended the PaleyFest event will be called back into duty during the finale: William Petersen, “Gil Grissom”; Marg Helgenberger, “Catherine Willows”; Ted Danson, “D.B. Russell”; Jorja Fox, “Sara Sidle”; Eric Szmanda, “Greg Sanders”; Robert David Hall, “Dr. Al Robbins”; David Berman, “David Phillips”; Wallace Langham, “David Hodges,” Elisabeth Harnois, “Morgan Brody”; Jon Wellner, “Henry Andrews”; and Paul Guilfoyle, “Captain Jim Brass.”

Who's Out: Ostensibly missing from the finale are Laurence Fishburne, Elisabeth Shue and George Eads. (Original cast member Gary Dourdan's character died in season 9, so Warrick Brown would be harder to bring back.)

Taking a chance on a newbie: CSI was series creator Anthony Zuiker’s first TV script, which he developed while working as a tram driver in Las Vegas.

No 'bad blood,' here:: CSI has had a lot of guest stars during its tenure. We heard from several cast members in the PaleyFest interview room, and reiterated again during the panel, that their favorite guest star over the 15-year-run was— Taylor Swift.

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An offshoot company: David Berman, who plays the assistant medical examiner on the show, also served as the show’s head researcher to ensure the science, procedures and technology were as close to real as could be (for TV anyway). Jon Wellner, who plays Henry Andrews on the show, was originally brought on by Berman as a part-time researcher. They formed a research consultancy company a few years ago, researching the forensics for other television shows.

Favorite episode: With more than 300 episodes under his belt, we asked Zuicker to pick his favorite. He named three: “Blood Drops” (Season 1, episode 7); “Grave Danger,” the season 5 finale directed and written by Quentin Tarantino; and tonight’s episode, “Immortality.”

Here’s the trailer for tonight’s episode, which airs at 9 pm on CBS.