In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, CBS
(Very) long-time readers of the blog will know that I’m not a big fan of Criminal Minds. In fact, I dismissed it pretty much after the first episode, the second season opener didn’t make me recant and the replacement of Mandy Patinkin with Joe Mantegna lured me in for all of two episodes.
My basic problems with it are that it’s very dull, doesn’t really bother with characterisation beyond a couple of the leads, despite being an ensemble show, and although it pretends to be intelligent, largely that’s a thin veneer that covers up an entirely preposterous plot with as much resemblance to real-life as The Magic Roundabout.
Millions of people disagree with me, however. They’re wrong, obviously, but they do. To cater for “these kinds of people”, CBS has developed an identikit version of it called Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, in which a rapid reaction team called a ‘Red Cell’ heads off in Without A Trace stylee to deal with nastiness as quickly as possible.
However, despite the presence of Forest Whitaker, Janeane Garofolo, the red-headed nerdy one from Criminal Minds and Richard Schiff from The West Wing, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior is just as tedious and stupid, yet without even the few hints of interest that the original had.
Here’s a trailer for the show that for some unfathomable reason doesn’t feature Amber Heard in a bikini (am I on SEO fire this week, or what?).
CRIMINAL MINDS: SUSPECT BEHAVIOR stars Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo in a drama about an elite team of agents within the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) who use unconventional methods of investigation and aggressive tactics to capture the nation’s most nefarious criminals.
Unit chief Special Agent Sam Cooper is a mentally and physically fierce natural leader who is not afraid to put his career on the line in order to stand by his convictions. Cooper strives to avoid political bureaucracy and has handpicked an eclectic group of profilers to work outside the confines of Quantico. They include Beth Griffith, strong-willed and outspoken, the newest member of the team who joins them from the FBI Threat Assessment Task Force; Former British Special Forces soldier Mick Rawson, confident and handsome, works as a highly-skilled marksman with an undiluted eye for rooting out evil; John “Prophet” Sims a former convict with a street-smart edge and a calm, Zen-like presence, who is determined to make amends for past sins; Gina LaSalle an attractive, tough agent armed with a cunning sense of perception; and Penelope Garcia, a computer wizard who has spent years aiding Agent Hotchner and his BAU team on its toughest cases.
This exceptional group of FBI operatives is strong in their beliefs and steadfast in their mission to bring the country’s most dangerous criminals to justice.
Is it any good?
If you’ve seen Criminal Minds, you’ll already know how this works. Someone mental does something tragic and nasty to some lovely people for seemingly unfathomable reasons. Our heart strings will be tugged at and then a bunch of FBI agents who largely have had all personality removed solve the crime by pretending to be very very clever. Eventually, the mentalist is revealed: in this case the obviously implausible reason for the kidnapping of both a black girl and a white girl being (spoiler alert): he’s a dad who misses his black daughter, so keeps kidnapping then killing replacements, except he discovers one doesn’t like dolls so kidnaps a white girl real-life doll replacement. Which is of course insanely ridiculous.
Now take a moment to read those character descriptions above. Go on. Because those descriptions are actually longer than the amount of characterisation given to most of the characters. We have Forest Whitaker doing his Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai routine but for the good guys this time. He’s very zen and consequently very dull. Janeane Garofolo, the other ostensible lead, is obviously female so in traditional Criminal Minds style, along with “Beth Griffith”, gets virtually nothing to do but look surprised or give people hugs and be earnest. “Mick Rawson”‘s single character trait is being Irish-sounding despite being in the British special forces, while it’s John “Prophet” Sims who gets most of the non-Whitaker character work, the question of the episode being “Will he shoot the paedophile when he catches him, just like he did the last time?” (want to have a guess now whether he does or not – there is literally no surprise here). It’s left to Richard Schiff to try to inject some humour into proceedings and he’s there for about five minutes in total.
The script itself is a collection of cliches mixed with the obviously ludicrous. There’s some horrible acting from the supporting cast. There’s not even the equivalent of that nerdy guy on Criminal Minds to give the show some off-centre quirks. And worse than all that, it was just plain boring.
Steer clear. But then I said that about Criminal Minds and you didn’t. Oh well.