While the second season of CSI: Vegas will have a more normal number of episodes, there are many reasons why the first season of the spin-off lasted only ten episodes. For decades, the average television season ranged from 18 to 26 episodes, with some exceptions. CSI fits this model: throughout the initial run, the series had between 18 and 24 seasons.
However, with the advent of hits such as “How I Met Your Father,” instead of longer seasons of traditional television with shorter streaming broadcasts, it is becoming more and more common when revivals, spin-offs and franchise restarts begin with relatively short debuts. In the first season of “How I met your father” there were only ten episodes, and in “How I met your mother” there were 22. Meanwhile, the revival of CSI CSI: Vegas had only ten episodes in the respective debut seasons of 2021.
However, the changing landscape of streaming and traditional television was not the only reason for the truncation of the first season of CSI: Vegas. The revival was always planned as a limited series, and due to the stoppages associated with COVID-19, production stopped for a year, anything more than ten episodes would have been impossible. Season 2 of CSI: Vegas will return for a longer season consisting of at least 13 episodes, but the brevity of season 1 was at least partly a conscious creative decision. This choice meant that the 1st season of CSI: Vegas could tell an independent story, although due to its short time, the show was more like a mini-series, rather than a classic original procedural show.
How the short season of CSI: Vegas 1 helped the series
However, even though the revival of the CSI franchise wasn’t perfect, it seemed that the revival of the CSI franchise was so tonally different from earlier CSI shows, focusing on one storyline allowed CSI: Vegas Season 1 to introduce new characters alongside old favorites. Now that Gil Grissom (William Petersen) and Sarah Sidle (George Fox) are leaving the series, these franchise veterans have helped pave the way for their replacements to feel more like classic CSI characters. A longer season might have sharpened the chemistry between existing fan favorites and new characters, but with a separate longer storyline dominating the action of the first season of CSI: Vegas, the series never felt like it was trying to recreate the tone of the original CSI.
With its self-contained story of how Sarah and Gil successfully evade the killer who tried to track them down, the first season of CSI: Vegas served as both an effective introduction to the new cast of the show and a solid farewell to the old guard. Gil and Sarah got a well-deserved happy ending, and the news that Catherine Marg Helgenberger will return in the second season of “CSI: Vegas” proves that the series still has a strong canonical connection with its predecessor. As a result, the short 10-episode run of the first season of CSI: Vegas proved that streaming shows can move from shorter debuts to more traditional formats, provided that the projects have some connective tissue with their predecessors.