"My jaw is kind of hanging down from the newness of all of this," Danson told reporters on Wednesday as he recalled that just two weeks earlier, he was leisurely staring out at the ocean from Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
Danson plays the new supervisor for the Las Vegas CSI team on the CBS drama, which films in Los Angeles. Danson steps into the position originally held by William Petersen and then filled by Laurence Fishburne, who had been on the show since its 2008-09 season.
Danson's character, D.B. Russell, is the child of counterculture parents who schooled him themselves at home and during travels in their van. He has a less obsessive way of experiencing the world than his fellow investigators.
Explained "CSI" executive producer Don McGill, "Here's this character who has things really, really in balance: family; work; life."
"I feel like I have walked into this perfect situation for me," Danson said.
The 63-year-old actor first found TV stardom nearly 30 years ago playing Boston bar owner Sam Malone on "Cheers," a comedy hit on NBC that ran for 11 seasons. And though he has had a variety of roles since then, he said he had never played a crime-buster before.
But even now, he said, "They still won't give me a gun."
"CSI," whose stars also include Marg Helgenberger and George Eads, will begin its 12th season on Sept. 21. But will it go on to match the longevity of "Law & Order" and "Gunsmoke," which tie the record for TV drama at 20 seasons?
"Ted has signed on for an additional 12 years, plus an option," joked executive producer Carol Mendelsohn. "Yeah — I think it will."