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What's next for ''CSI'' and its spin-off?

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William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, ...
CSI: Tony Esparza/CBS

”CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” is about a bunch of stiffs, but the show couldn’t be more alive. In just its second season, the CBS drama (Thursday, 9 p.m.) regularly wallops competitors ”Will & Grace” and ”Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.” With viewers obviously hungry for liquefied bodies and disembodied heads, the network has asked show creator Anthony Zuiker, 32, to dream up a spin-off. EW.com talked to the former Las Vegas tram operator about what else forensics fans can look forward to this season, why you can see naked bodies on network TV, and why you should never feed a CSI strawberries and rice.

What’s coming up this season?
We’re going to have an episode in which a bunch of Buddhists monks are killed, plus a murder in a hockey rink and a big bus accident. After our airplane episode last year, we discovered that viewers like it when a bunch of people are involved in one incident, so we wanted to revisit that. We’re also going to get a little deeper into Grissom’s backstory in terms of his hearing, and that’s all I can say about it.

Are you going to be spending more time on the personal lives of Grissom and the gang?
The viewers seem to really respond to the science of the show, so right now evidence is really the hero. Back stories will come out over the course of the show, but we’re not getting people involved in love affairs. What you might be seeing down the road is how these crimes affect people psychologically. The real CSIs often take a leave of absence for 10 days because they just can’t handle another autopsy. They can’t eat rice anymore because it looks like maggots, and they can’t eat strawberries anymore because they look like brain matter. But right now, we’re sticking to science.

So Grissom and Willows are never going to get it on in the lab one dark and lonely night?
Oh, that will never happen. There is a sexual tension that they have, sure. And later in life we may touch on them having a more intimate friendship, but that’s all. Of course, we have created some subtext between Sara Sidle and our chemist, but that’s just for fun. Subtext goes a long way.

Have you ever had to tone down the gore or nudity?
When we did the ”Slaves of Las Vegas” episode last year, I think we lost one nipple. Because our show is so respectful of the human body in terms of science, we can get away with almost anything. As long as you’re not gratuitous, the network will fight for you. And never have we said people can’t stomach this, even the liquid man episode. Other than the nipple and the maggots in our pilot episode, we haven’t lost a thing.

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