CSI‘s newest recruit, Laurence Fishburne, told reporters on a teleconference call today that he looks forward to collaborating with producers on his new character — even though he’s never actually watched the CBS drama. “To be perfectly frank, I felt a little stupid and embarrassed that I hadn’t watched the show,” said Fishburne, who hasn’t done series television since appearing as Cowboy Curtis on Pee-wee’s Playhouse back in the mid-’80s. “But I’m happy to say the episodes they sent to me were really engaging, really wonderful, and kind of dark and moody… like a lot of the work I’ve been involved in. I thought, wow, this will work!”

Fishburne will start shooting in September and will likely appear in his first episode tentatively scheduled for Dec. 11. He and executive producers Carol Mendelsohn and Naren Shankar are still fleshing out his character, who doesn’t even have a name. For now, they can only say he’s a college professor with a background as a research pathologist who joins the unit as an entry-level CSI. Though CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler seemed to indicate to reporters in July that the new character will have Dexter-like qualities, Shankar said it’s “nothing as simple as having the genes of a serial killer.” “The character has been able to examine his own genetic profile, and he discovers he has certain clusters of biological facts in common with criminals,” Shankar explained on the teleconference call. “It’s just one of the things that interested in him in the world of violent criminals.”

Shankar promises that Billy Peterson’s Gil Grissom “will definitely have an opinion on who this new guy is” before he departs the unit by episode 10. “You’ll see a lot of Billy and Laurence together,” she said.