Few shows have changed TV like CSI did.
While there had been procedural dramas before, the monster success of the CBS series in 2000 kicked off a new wave of such dramas. It put a new focus on forensics work and also became a huge hit in syndication.
It inspired a wave of copycats, many from its own network, as well as three official spin-offs.
As proof nothing truly ends, CSI is set to return this fall on CBS with some of the original cast returning. That brings new excitement to see them adapting to a new generation of science and crime tech.
It’s still a ways off, but thankfully, there are a lot of shows fans can check out to fill that hole. Many involve medical examiners and the procedural style of CSI. Others are more fun as dramas that put a spin on the usual formula.
As folks wait for CSI to make its return, these ten shows are great ways to pass the time.
This CBS series put a unique spin on the usual cop/FBI show format.
When he’s baffled on a tough case, an FBI agent (Rob Morrow) turns to his genius mathematician brother (David Krumholtz). The brother uses his skills to predict anything from a serial killer’s patterns to a possible terrorist attack.
It emphasizes the science like CSI does with some top-notch action from the unit. There’s also the fun bond of the brothers getting along with their dad (Judd Hirsch).
The show thankfully helps the viewers understand the complex equations while the characters are vibrant to keep it an exciting ride. Even non-math geeks will enjoy this thriller.
Seasons 1-6 streaming on Hulu.
For lovers of classic rock alone, this show was a delight.
This CBS series focuses on the Philadelphia police unit that investigate long-unsolved murders. Many of them go back decades which presents a challenge to the cops.
The fun is in the flashbacks, which are often filmed in a style matching the period (1940s stories are always black and white) and packed with music from those eras.
It’s also fun seeing actors playing their past personas and the cases taking unique turns. Kathryn Morris handles it all as the lead cop with a cast including future Law & Order cop Danny Pino.
For those enjoying a nostalgia kick in murder cases, this show is hot.
Seasons 1-7 streaming on HBO Max.
This show answers what would happen if CSI was more like a romantic comedy.
The long-running Fox series focuses on Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a brilliant anthropologist with terrible people skills. She and her team are called on by FBI agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) to investigate murders off of uncovered skeletons.
The cast is terrific selling these complex mysteries and some unique drama. There’s also the wonderful banter of Bones and Booth that grows into eventually becoming a family.
The forensic mysteries are fun, but it’s the sparkling cast and writing that made the series a CSI-level success.
Seasons 1-12 streaming on Hulu.
With just two seasons (pretty good for Fox standards), this series rested on its terrific leading man.
Morris Chestnut plays the title role of Beaumont Rosewood, who lives his life to the fullest. That’s because he has a medical condition that’s likely to kill him before he hits 50.
Rosewood hires himself as a “private pathologist” to the Miami PD to help on cases a regular medical examiner can’t solve. His flashy style may annoy the other cops, but he’s excellent at his job.
He and cop Jaine Lee Ortiz have great chemistry on the job handling cases from serial killers to a murder underwater.
Chestnut’s fun banter and love of life make his investigating murder in a sunny setting more exciting.
Seasons 1-2 streaming on Hulu.
Based on a cult comic book, this delightful CW series was a tremendous supernatural crime show.
Liv (Rose McIver) was a medical student transformed into an intelligent zombie. She works at the morgue to feast on the brains of cadavers.
Doing so allows Liv to access a person’s memories. Passing herself off as a “psychic,” she helps the cops solve murders.
The fun is that besides memories, Liv also takes on a victim’s personality. This means McIver plays anyone from a flighty party gal to a jock and more for terrific comedy.
There’s an overall arc of a zombie war building and some huge twists in the later seasons. Yet the series is best when its leading lady shows the irony that becoming undead led to a bright new life.
Seasons 1-5 streaming on Netflix.
This 2014 ABC series had a unique turn on the medical examiner crime show.
Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd) is a British M.E. for the NYPD who has a “seen-it-all” air. That’s because he’s 235 years old.
Henry doesn’t know why he’s immortal or why, when he “dies,” he wakes up naked in a body of water. He tries to find a way to break his curse while also searching for his missing wife.
Alana de la Garza (currently on FBI) was fun as the lead detective working with Henry and a clear romantic chemistry. Judd Hirsch was also good as the man folks assume is Henry’s father when he’s actually his adoptive son.
Sadly canceled after just one year, this series deserved a much longer life.
Season 1 streaming on CW Seed.
Famous for her role in Law & Order, Jill Hennessy also scored a hit with this NBC procedural.
She’s the title Jordan, a medical examiner who helps crack cases for the Boston PD.
She’s surrounded by a great supporting cast, including Miguel Ferrer as her boss, Jerry O’Connell as the main cop helping, Kathryn Hahn as a quirky assistant, and the first season had future Oscar winner Mahershala Ali.
The show could balance serious crime mysteries with light-hearted fare, and the cast doing a great job with the stories. It even crossed over with NBC’s fun Las Vegas series.
Sadly canceled on a cliffhanger, it offered more heart than the typical CSI outing, with Hennessy a great presence.
Seasons 1-6 streaming on the Roku Channel.
Body of Proof
Emmy-winning veteran Dana Delaney shone in this 2011-13 ABC drama.
She plays Megan Hunt, an arrogant surgeon who cannot operate on live patients after a car accident. She thus switches to dead ones.
Hunt’s arrogance rubs her boss (Jeri Ryan) the wrong way, but she does have a sharp mind for cases. It’s also fun seeing her showing up at a crime scene in a $3000 outfit.
The supporting cast helps with turns such as Ryan dating Megan’s ex-husband and her tense relationship with her daughter (Mary Mouser).
Delaney carries the series well, slowly losing her pride as she helps victims find justice. It’s worth watching for a lady who brings style to the procedural drama.
Seasons 1-3 streaming on Hulu.
This Canadian drama was imported to the CW and is already a good success.
Serinda Swan plays Jenny Cooper, a medical examiner who returns to work after her husband’s murder. As she investigates fresh deaths, she struggles with her grief which can become overwhelming.
The first season balances Jenny’s investigations into fresh murders with trying to find out who killed her husband. Swan shows a darker side at times as her investigations put her in serious danger.
The coming third season adds to the drama as Jenny must handle murders during the coronavirus pandemic. That gives this already dark show an even deeper thrill.
Seasons 1-2 streaming on the CW, season 3 premieres August 19.
Rizzoli & Isles
This hit TNT drama rested on the wonderful chemistry of its two leads.
Jane Rizzoli (Angie Harmon) is a tough, street-smart Boston cop. Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) is a wealthy medical examiner who’s better at talking to corpses than people.
Together, they solve a variety of unique crimes in Boston, many involving some weird deaths.
The friendship between the pair makes this show pop so well, with both showing a delightful spark in their partnership.
While some fans liked to imagine them being more than just friends, it was still fun seeing the series unfold and linking light comedy with some mystery.
Seasons 1-7 streaming on HBO Max.