By Ken Tucker
Updated April 17, 2009 at 07:07 AM EDT

I always enjoy the few CSI episodes every season that feature the supporting players, the “lab rats” — in this week’s case, Wallace Langham’s Hodges and Liz Vassey’s Wendy. The premise of a murder committed at a sci-fi convention wasn’t original, nor was the idea that Hodges and Wendy, as cerebral hard-workers, would be geek fans of a 1960s Star Trek-like show called here Astro Quest.

What was clever was the way the plot mirrored the history of Battlestar Galactica: on CSI, a producer was taking the campy old version of Astro Quest and turning it into a new, grungy, “realistic” Astro Quest. And sure enough, the teleplay was written by two former writers for BSG, David Weddle and Bradley Thompson. In the CSI story, someone kills the producer; the CSI crew assumes it’s a fan outraged at the perceived desecration of a “classic” old show.

Guest stars included one of BSG‘s big-bads: Kate Vernon, who played Cylon Ellen Tigh. CSI added another layer of cleverness by making Vernon’s character here an academic who quotes the deconstructionist philosopher Jacques Derrida and says things like, “Killed by one of the signifiers he sought to subvert!” Ha!

The interplay between Hodges and Wendy was dandy, as well as subject-appropriate-sexist: as an adult fanboy, Hodges had daydreams in which we see Wendy in various skimpy futuristic costumes. (These also stirred memories of Liz Vassey’s superbly witty and sexy performance as Captain Liberty in the 2001 sitcom The Tick.)

I also liked seeing, as one of the suspects, a distinctly non-sci-fi presence: Liza Weil — Paris on Gilmore Girls, always a welcome TV sighting.

But I’m not a super-knowledgeable science-fiction fan, so I’m sure some of you out there will tell me who else appeared on CSI last night from the sci-fi world: I thought I spotted Grace Park (BSG‘s Boomer) in the crowd. Were there other luminaries at that convention I missed?

And in general, did you think this was a strong CSI episode?