To the point, Criminal Minds is very compelling television. Ever since The Silence Of The Lambs and perhaps long before, we have been fascinated by serial killers and the profilers who try to get inside their heads. To see evidence of the continuing trend, one needs only look toward the success of films like Zodiac and shows like Dexter. Of course, serial killers are not the only prey this FBI team pursues, but they are certainly the marquee item on the agenda. To be sure, there are equally disturbing subjects such as arsonists, bombers, kidnappers, and rapists to give the show a touch of variety, but let’s face it, it’s the killers that keep us tuned so attentively to Criminal Minds.
Let’s not take anything away from the show’s true force here. This is an excellent cast being fed brilliant scripts playing to an awesome crew. Everything just clicks on this series, and it only got better in the second year. I am truly impressed with how much these characters are fleshed out and how much we learn about them without the need of office romance. No precious show time is squandered on excessive personal life stories. We’re given just enough to bring the characters alive beyond their team dynamic, which is quite strong. Each character is constructed through the subtle nuances the actors infuse their performance with. The most remarkable of these performances is by Mandy Patinkin as Agent Gideon. His character is not charismatic in the classical sense, but yet he demands your undivided attention in each scene he plays. From the moment you watch your first episode, you will find this team believable enough to care about them and their work. Surprisingly, the show often gets muddled in a ton of exposition, but somehow it’s carried off by the cast so that you never find yourself going numb with clinical information overload. Granted, the material itself is attention-worthy, but these guys pull it off no matter how interesting the information might be. I think I’d watch Patinkin talk about toilet bowl mechanics and enjoy every minute of it. Add to the stellar portrayals a writing team second to none in the industry. The support teams do everything they need to make sure these talents are never wasted.
Agent Gideon (Patinkin) was once a brilliant FBI profiler. He let a case get too personal and lost his way. After spending time teaching he is called back into service on the FBI’s elite Behavior Analysis Unit. Agent Hotchner (Gibson) is the often stoic agent in charge who defers to Gideon’s judgment most of the time. The team also includes young Dr. Reed (Gubler) who is a genius but lacks the necessary social skills to have much of a social life. Agent Morgan (
Each episode begins with a look at some heinous crime and soon finds the team jetting to look into it. Each member of the team has duties tied to their strengths, and they work almost too perfectly together. This changes a bit in the second year. You’ll find some real internal struggles that will add to the realism of the series. It all starts when Greenway is forced to leave after she crosses the line in the season’s first story arc. The first season ended with the team being targeted and Greenway held hostage ending in the typical cliffhanger mode. The addition of Agent Prentiss adds some new blood, but with it comes tension. Reed delopes a drug addiction the result of one of his many abductions. Cases touch on the private lives of JJ and Morgan, adding even more turmoil to the group dynamic. Still, even with all of this change, this is a solid season of crime drama. Some particularly good episodes include Lessons Learned, perhaps the best episode to date, where Gideon must work with a terrorist with knowledge of an attack. His final solution is a clever one I didn’t see coming. No Way Out pits the team against a known subject as they sit with him in a local diner to save a woman feared captured and killed. The night of the Super Bowl brought a good episode, The Big Game. The story was nicely tied to that night’s football game. Finally a Saw-styled episode finds a woman going through rigged rooms playing a game with the killer.
Profilers Profiled: Just a fancy name for a basic season two overview. It seems that the writers pay attention to your fan web sites and blogs, so keep it coming. New cast member Paget Brewster is absolutely giddy about her arrival on Criminal Minds. Yes, expect the usual love fest from everyone as well during this 13 minute piece.
The Physical Evidence: Most of this 15 minutes is spent talking about the show’s crime scenes. There was an obvious effort to crank up the gore in season two, and it shows. Many of these depictions look like they could have come out of a crime journal. The staff also talks about the toll this stuff has on their own psyches.
Behavior Science: The Real Life Criminal Minds: How does this show compare to the real thing? Actual former FBI profilers tell us here. You’ll be amazed at how close some of this stuff really is. You’ll also get to meet the show’s full time researchers, who work hard to get it right each week. Overall this is a bit creepy.
Meet Kirsten Vangsness: This 6 minute feature focuses on Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia. She appears to do a ton of small theater. Most of the moments are outside of the Criminal Minds venue, which is refreshing.
Gag Reel: Typical stuff here, highlighted by a pretty funny romp in a playground by Patinkin.
Deleted Scenes: Some of the episodes give you added footage. Nothing earthshaking here, but always a welcome addition.