Television's best crime show, CSI, enters a new era Thursday night as the first episode of the post-Grissom era. William Petersen had appeared in all but two of the episodes since first airing in 2000. CSI actually got its start on Friday nights, but was moved to Thursdays after Survivor when it started gaining some notice. This was back when Survivor was the hot new sensation, and naturally the viewers stuck around to fall in love with CSI.

Getting poll results. Please wait...

The show changed the landscape of crime television. Now you can find a miscellaneous crime drama on every night of the week, including the two CSI spin-offs that take place in Miami and New York. However, now as the show approaches a decade on the air, a clear transition is being made. Sarah Sidle (Jorja Fox) and Gil Grissom have left the team, and Warrick Brown (Gary Dourdan) was killed in last season's thrilling finale. CBS new this day would come, so they also knew they had better come up with a big name replacement to garner some attention. They certainly got that when they signed on Laurence Fishburne to join the cast. Fishburne was very good in his first two episodes, and Thursday he officially joins the Las Vegas crime unit. Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger) will take over Grissom's post and usher in a new era of CSI. Should fans be concerned? No. I think they should be excited to see what is to come, and I fully expect CSI to continue to be the best crime show on television.

The longest running crime show on TV, Law and Order, also finds itself in transition. The cast is basically entirely new. Sam Waterston still is on the show, but as the head DA his role is lessened in that he does not try cases anymore. The thing that makes Law and Order great is how the writers rip storylines right from the headlines and come up with their own version of a real life case. Every episode begins with the disclaimer, "This episode is fictional and its characters are not based on any actual events," but when you have a show about a court battle over a woman in a vegetative state, you know what's going on. Law and Order may be past its prime, but it is still good TV, and without it we would likely not have many of the crime dramas we love today like The Closer.

Like CSI, Law and Order also has two spin-offs. However, unlike CSI, the L & O spin-offs may actually be better than the original. Vincent D'Onofrio's character Det. Robert Goren makes Law and Order: Criminal Intent definitely worth watching. Criminal Intent also finds itself in a transition after Chris Noth, best known as Big from Sex and the City, left the show at the end of last season. He will be replaced by Jeff Goldblum when new episodes start later this month, and I am curious to see what his unique brand of acting brings to the show. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit has also been putting out some great episodes. There was a particularly captivating episode earlier this season that chronicled Det. Stabler's daughter's descent into madness when suffering from bi-polar disorder.

CSI and Law & Order are the two biggest franchise names in crime drama, and they are looking to keep it that way for a long time.

Story by Kevin Olsta

Starpulse contributing writer