Posts Tagged ‘ criminal minds ’

The Upfronts 2018 – CBS

Bye bye
I have barely heard of any of the shows cancelled by CBS this year, let alone watched them. There may be people that these shows mean the world to, but there obviously weren’t very many of them – 9JKL; Kevin Can Wait; Living Biblically; Me, Myself and I; Scorpion; Superior Donuts and Wisdom of the Crowd. Scorpion made it to 4 seasons, none of the others made it beyond 2.

See you agains soon
There are lots of shows here that I used to watch, but none of them that I still watch. I liked and enjoyed NCIS: Original and Los Angeles, but petered out a while ago, and I never bothered with New Orleans – at over 650 episodes between them, they just all got too samey. Similarly with Hawaii Five-0; all these show have really great characters and casts, but the plots themselves are utterly forgettable so it’s hard to stay engaged. Blue Bloods I gave up on after a couple of years and I don’t think I made it to the end of the first season of Madam Secretary. Bull was just too formulaic. Criminal Minds I was watching until very recently when I suddenly realised that it was rubbish – really unimaginative, awful dialogue and actors who seemed to be phoning it in; I don’t know whether that was me seeing the light, or a sudden deterioration in quality from them. The Big Bang Theory continues ever onward and I watch it occasionally but not with any level of commitment, the Young Sheldon spin off seems just as popular.

There are a few new shows that I meant to give a try, mostly due to their casts – Instinct starring Alan Cumming, SWAT with Shemar Moore and Seal Team with David Boreanaz. Now they’ve been picked up for second seasons I might actually watch them.

Hello there

Magnum PI – utterly ridiculous. There’s some charm I guess, but by the end of the trailer when he jumped onto the helicopter I just couldn’t face any more.


The neighborhood – so many many problems. The first one of which being the insane laugh track on the trailer.


Happy Together – a rockstar moves in with his accountant and his partner, who are (apparently) incredibly dull. Another awful laugh track, but at least someone was laughing.


FBI – warning – the trailer spoils the whole of the pilot episode, why do they do that? It looks as generic as its name, but it’s a good cast and Dick Wolf (Law and Order) knows how to make generic compelling.


God Friended Me – so God friends an atheist on Facebook and sends him after random people who need help. It sounds like Quantum Leap with less cross-dressing, but Brandon Micheal Hall is rather charming and maybe a bit of sappiness can work.

Also:
The Code – for which there is zero information beyond that the two lead roles were recast after the pilot. That all bodes well.
Fam – some sort of comedy about a woman’s perfect life being spoilt by a teenager half sister turning up. Diddums.
The Red Line – the story of three families’ intersecting lives following a white police man mistakenly shooting a black doctor.

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Things I didn’t bother with this year

So one of the big things I clearly didn’t bother with this year was to keep on top of my reviews and actually post me review of the television year before the new seasons all began. I was trying to finish some things off before posting the summaries because otherwise it was a surprisingly short list of shows. There were however a few shows that I just didn’t bother with this year, and thought it would be a good idea to bundle them all together so they didn’t pollute the others.

Criminal Minds: Season 12 – when did this show get so poor? I realise that after a couple of hundred episodes the writers may start to struggle and the actors may get a bit bored, but this season feels like some kind of step change in quality. I mean it’s just bad. The dialogue from the writers and delivery from the actors are just amateur, like everyone is phoning it in, it’s full of cliché’s utterly lacking in subtlety and painful to listen to. I know they’ve had a lot of change in the cast, but I don’t think it’s because Morgan and Hotch left, or Alvez joined. Tara has never really come out as a character, and Prentis isn’t working in her new role as leader, she’s just too wooden (I think Paget Brewster is better suited to comedy and struggles to carry the weight of the drama necessary for the leader of the team). Reid is more of a caricature than ever and the only point of life is Garcia who just cannot do it all by herself. Time to retire this one I think.

Fargo: Season 3– I really enjoyed the first two seasons, but I didn’t even last half hour of this one before I lost interest. Having the same actor playing brothers just feels like a completely unnecessary gimmick. It’s not the Ewan McGregor couldn’t play either role, but I just didn’t want to spend my time trying to suspend my brain from continually working out how they edited scenes together. Nothing else jumped out as interesting, so I gave up.

Code Black and The Night Shift – both haave the same problem. The first seasons were enjoyable tosh, but I just couldn’t be bothered to continue watching. A few characters I liked disappeared, the melodrama ramped up and it just felt too artificial for any real engagement. Life’s too short.

Bull: Season 1– I managed about three quarters of the season and I kept thinking that as I was so close to the end I should just stick with it. But I once again realised that life’s too short to watch mediocre television. Particularly when it’s just making me sad to see a talented cast wasted on utterly mediocre ideas and writing. It was so formulaic and derivative that I can’t believe anyone involved was really putting any effort in or cared about the output. The idea of the show was just too narrow to really support a full 20 odd episode season, particularly given they decided to have almost no arc stories at all, each episode was completely standalone with no plots or character development spanning multiple episodes. A waste.

Grey’s Anatomy: Season 12 – Season 12 finished in a place that I was incredibly unhappy with. I’ve always like the character that Alex grew into, starting out as an obnoxious arsehole and gradually showing where he came from and allowing the other characters to influence him into a better person. Then the writers had him beat the crap out of someone because he was jealous. I thought I’d let a few episodes of the new season build up to see where they went with that, and reading the spoilers I liked the direction even less, as it seemed to be verging dangerously into victim blaming. So I decided not to watch. I kept reading spoilers, and there really wasn’t anything in there that made me want to watch again. It wasn’t just Alex, other characters were frustrating too (ugh – Amelia) and I just didn’t want to watch. So I didn’t bother. That makes me sad, because I adore this show. I’ve read similar frustrations from reviewers online, but they seem to be a bit more positive about the new season, so maybe I’ll just pretend this season never happened.

The Good Fight: Season 1 – I adored the early seasons of The Good Wife, but I lost interest to the extent that I didn’t even get through the final season. I felt the writers rushed things a bit and characters went in directions I either didn’t believe or didn’t want to believe they’d go. I tried The Good Fight because, well, Christine Baranski. But I never really felt like watching more. It sat on my Sky box for months waiting for me to get to it before I finally gave up and deleted it. It may have been great, but I just wasn’t feeling it.

The Defenders: Season 1: I loved Jessica Jones, liked Luke Cage and even sat through Iron Fist just so that I could be more up to speed for The Defenders, but I haven’t yet made it beyond episode 2. I was bored. Even though I’d watched 3 out of 4 of the components, I didn’t remember enough of the plots to really pull everything together and there was absolutely zero help from the writers to elegantly remind you. I’d even have been happy with an inelegant “previously on…” few minutes at the start. I didn’t engage at all, but I will give it another try.

2014/15 Season

I’m getting worse and worse at actually writing stuff promptly. So my end of year wrap up comes after several of the 2015/16 shows have already started. Oh well, better late than never. I’m only talking about US shows here, I think I’m going to move the UK series so that I look at them at the end of the year. Frankly that’s pretty arbitrary but I watch so little UK television that adding it to the list just looked embarrassing. Also I’m focussing more on the returning shows as all the new things got their own little article last week.

Things I’ve watched

The Affair: S1
American Horror Story: Freak Show (S4)
The Americans: S3 (in progress)
Aquarius (in progress)
The Blacklist: S2 (half)
Criminal Minds: S10 (failed to review)
CSI: S15
Defiance: S3 (in progress)
Downton Abbey: S5
Forever: S1 (half)
Game of Thrones: S5 (half)
The Good Wife: S6
Grey’s Anatomy: S11
Jane the Virgin: S1 (review pending)
Justified: S6
Mad Men: S7 Part 2
Madam Secretary: S1 (half)
Marvel’s Agent Carter: S1
Marvel’s Agents of Shield: S2
NCIS: Los Angeles: S6 (failed to review)
The Newsroom: S3
Orange is the New Black: S3 (review pending)
Orphan Black: S3 (just starting)
Penny Dreadful: S2
Perception: S3 (failed to review)
Scandal: S4
Stalker: S1 (failed to review)
Transparent: S1
The Walking Dead: S5

So that’s 27 series, although four of them I only watched part of the season before giving up and four are still in progress. I think that’s probably about 340 episodes? It felt like I watched less television this year, but actually it’s up on last year’s count of 20 series. I think though that a lot of what I watched was just less memorable so it doesn’t feel like I’ve watched as much. 20 episodes each of Criminal Minds, NCIS LA, CSI and Scandal all add up pretty quickly, yet take up remarkably little space in my brain.

I watched six new shows to completion this year, an additional two I made it half way through and actually Orange is the New Black and Justified were both new series for me too which I binge watched from the start and then caught up to the current season. So 10 shows that appear on this year’s list but weren’t on last year’s. In the other direction there were 9 series that I watched last year which didn’t return. Five I chose not to pick up again: Castle (I just got bored with it), The Big Bang Theory (I just missed the start and never felt like catching up), The Following (just too ridiculous), Extant (I don’t think I even got through the whole first season) and The Lost Ship (couldn’t be bothered) . Two I haven’t got round to yet: House of Cards: S3 (it’s in my new Netflix queue) and The Night Shift: S2 (still no UK distributer). Almost Human was cancelled and Fargo didn’t broadcast any new episodes.

The more I think about the list of shows I’ve watched, the more underwhelmed I am with the year. Did I miss something? Have I watched so much TV that I’ve over-dosed and its lost its appeal? I just don’t think anything this year was outstanding. Even the shows that I list below for plaudits are mostly ongoing series that have just continued doing what they do, well. Where were the paradigm shifts? The big evolutions? The watercooler moments? It just feels like a very flat year.

Best Shows
Orange_Is_the_New_Black_Title_CardOrange is the New Black was a show that I’d wanted to watch from the get-go, but couldn’t justify the Netflix cost for. I finally caught up on the first season on dvd and then binged the second and third over a week or so when I finally gave in and signed up to Netflix. The lightness of the humour and the positivity of the relationships is starkly contrasted with the bleakness of the characters’ situations. The acting and writing is wonderful, the slow reveals of characters’ pasts through flashbacks is particularly clever and the whole thing is fresh, original and utterly compelling.

Justified_2010_IntertitleJustified was a great discovery for me, which I should thank Sky Boxsets for. I caught up with the first five seasons in just a few weeks and then got to watch the final season as it broadcast. I loved the whole series, but was particularly impressed that rather than fade away, the final season was actually one of the best. It focussed back on the main trio of characters and played out the uncertainty of “good”, “bad” and “somewehre in between” to the very end. A masterclass in how to close out a series.

americansThe Americans has been slow to reach the UK so I’m only about half way through, but it continues to be absolutely fascinating. The focus is alwasys on the emotional impact of the secrets and lies all the characters have to tell, which is good for me because I often struggle to remember the details of the various conspiracies and am far more interested in watching the phenomenal Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell acting. I feel a bit of a cheat putting something on here that’s only half way through, but it seems unlikely it will take a nosedive now!

Honourable mention: Defiance got off to a surprisingly brutal but very interesting start. There’s so little science fiction on television outside the super-hero genre that it’s a huge relief that this one doesn’t suck.

Favourite Shows
greys anatomyGrey’s Anatomy – only 4 of the original cast are left by the end of season 11. Each time someone leaves I think the show will struggle without them, that their gap will be unfillable, but each time the characters and relationships mature and evolve, not to replace the missing person, but to grow around the gap and evolve the show into something new. I love how the characters have grown, how the relationships mature and how nothing in the past is forgotten, but all makes a part of the present. Yes, it’s a daft soap opera with unbelievable stuff happening, but if you accept that key premise, everything else makes perfect sense. It’s like a comfortable blanket at the end of the day.

Agent_Carter_Series_LogoMarvel’s Agent Carter – while Agents of SHIELD did improve this year it’s still got a lot of problems and the pressure of being a headline show for both ABC and Marvel isn’t helping it. Agent Carter however didn’t have any of the pressure or any of the problems and quietly came along with a phenomenal central cahracter and hugely entertaining story.

Honourable mention: Jane the Virgin was a breath of fresh, if extremely cheesy, air.

Same old, same old (in a mostly good way)
The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead – The relentless pace of The Walking Dead never stops (ironic, given the increasingly shambling nature of the zombies). In the space of twenty odd episodes an incredible amount happened and it’s only through the efficiency of the writing and the talent of the actors that all the characters manage to develop and every nuance is clear. I do wish that we could catch our breath a little, and that the characters could actually find some brief respite and happiness, but I guess that wouldn’t be The Walking Dead.

pennydreadfulPenny Dreadful continues to be an under-watched and under-appreciated gem. The period detail is stunning and the interweaving of various literary characters is fascinating. It’s definitely a show that benefits from watching in chunks though as it is quite easy to lose track of the many different threads.

Mostly honourable mention: Orphan Black has got off to a strong start to season 3 (I’m about 3 episodes in) but its storyline is becoming more convoluted and I hope it’s not going to get lost.

Same old, same old (in a middling way)
CriminalMindsCriminal Minds – I didn’t even bother to review Criminal Minds this year because I honestly have nothing to say and very little recollection of what happened. I mean, I guess it’s safe and familiar (as much as that’s weird to say about a graphically brutal series about serial killers) and it’s not that I want it to be cancelled or dramatically changed, but 10 seasons later it needs some energy.

csiCSI – the final season trundled along much as the last half dozen or so had gone. Unremarkable stories, increasingly losing touch with the actual science and credibility that the show was founded on. Mind you (spoiler alert) having just yesterday watched the final feature length episode, the last season comparatively the creative highpoint of the show.

Middlingly honourable mention: NCIS: Los Angeles continues to have fun with its characters but struggle when it comes to memorable and engaging plots.

Same old, same old (in a bad way)
scandalScandal – oh good lord. It just keeps getting stupider and stupider. The core relationships are all stunningly unhealthy and I endlessly wonder why any of them (friends, colleagues or lovers) stay together when they’re clearly all phenomenally bad for each other and in fact the rest of humanity. I think I might be done.

Game of ThronesGame of Thrones – I’ve finally given up. There’s way too many characters that I really don’t care about, too many drawn out plots that aren’t going anywhere and a complete absence of any real fantasy. I couldn’t take it anymore.

Dishonourable mention: not even James Spader was enough to make me stick with The Blacklist as its convoluted mess of a story left me completely confused and utterly uninterested in who was trustworthy or not.

What happened there?! (in a very bad way)
goodwifeThe Good Wife – I hate seeing The Good Wife down in this section, but the more I think about it, the more frustrated I was by this season. I’d been really looking forward to seeing what would happen with Cary and Alicia’s firm, particularly with Diane joining them… and I was cheated out of it by a ‘too fast’ change of direction that saw Alicia running for State’s Attorney. The ongoing ridiculous arguments with the old firm was just pantomime and Cary’s legal problems were just contrived and frustrating. There’s still a lot of good about the show, but all the major storylines were miss-steps.

The Upfronts 2015: CBS

cbsCBS continues to have an impressively stable, although increasingly aged line up, not leaving much space for new shows. They do seem to be trying to go in a different direction with their new series, but they feel very out of place when surrounded by so many established procedurals.

Cancelled or finished
csiAfter 15 series, 335 episodes, CSI is finally being put out to pasture. The mothership that spawned dozens of wannabes and spent 10 years in the top 10 watched shows has seen its ratings decline steadily in the last few years and now it can’t compete with its own descendants. I’ve been a loyal watcher throughout and while it’s rarely been a favourite show, it’s always been a reassuring presence and I will actually miss it. There’ll be a final two hour TV movie, featuring the return of Grissom and Catherine.

mentalistI stuck with Stalker the whole season and I’m not entirely sure why, the setup wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, the stories weren’t particularly original and the characters weren’t that charismatic. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t outstanding. I’m not sure I’d’ve bothered with season 2 even if it had been picked up and I’m not really mourning its passing. Likewise I’m not that disappointed The Mentalist wound up after seven seasons. I made it through the first two seasons but found it frustratingly inconsistent in tone. Two and a Half Men finally completely and utterly died after 12 seasons. I’m guessing Jon Cryer mourned that and wished his cast mates hadn’t screwed everything up for him.
Also cancelled: Battle Creek and The McCarthys were new series, The Millers was cancelled after its second season. None of which I have any memory of hearing about.

Renewed
NCISCBS remains the home of the procedurals and even without Grand-pa CSI there’s a bevy of relations: CSI: Navy (NCIS – Season 13), CSI: Navy + Sunshine (NCIS: Los Angeles – season 7), CSI: Navy + Jazz (NCIS: New Orleans – season 2), CSI: Surfs Up (Hawaii Five-O – season 6), CSI: Serial Killers (Criminal Minds – season 11), CSI: Sherlock (Elementary – season 4), CSI: Pre-Crime (Person of Interest – season 5), CSI: Online (Scorpion – season 2) oh and CSI: Cyber (an actual proper CSI spin off going into season 2). Blue Bloods is more NYPD Blue 2010 than a CSI spin off and Tom Selleck’s moustache only held my attention for 3 seasons, but apparently other people have more commitment to it because it will be back for season 6 next year.

goodwifeOther dramas that are renewed are the critically acclaimed but ratings challenged The Good Wife, although season 6 hasn’t been as good as previously. Madam Secretary has some potential, but is disappointingly light when I was hoping for something more politically hefty. I watched a few episodes of Extant but got bored with the conspiracy stuff, I thought it was a one off so am a bit surprised to see it renewed for season 2. Under the Dome returns for season 3 but lost me with the utterly ridiculous bisected cow in the first episode.

The Big Bang TheoryThe unlikely juggernaut that is The Big Bang Theory continues with huge ratings and last year was given a three-year renewal which carries it through to next season. Mike and Molly and 2 Broke Girls return for seasons 6 and 5 respectively, Mom will be back for season 3 and Matthew Perry has finally broken his curse of first season cancellations as his remake of The Odd Couple is renewed!

New this autumn

Angel From Hell: Jane Lynch is either a stalker or a guardian angel. Jane Lynch is kind of fantastic and with a slightly more subtle character and better writing (in the trailer at least) than she got lumbered with on Glee, this could be great.


Code Black: It’s ER moved from Chicago to Los Angeles. I’m a sucker for this stuff and this looked pretty well done.


Life in Pieces: Hey, dating is tricky, precocious children are hilarious, parenting is hard and old people are whacky but look how uplifting it can all be when we come together as a family. Sod off. Colin Hanks deserves better.


Limitless: Based on the film, one pill makes you super smart and effectively a superhero. It inevitably gets complicated. The film was ok and I guess it’s a good set up but the supreme close up of Bradley Cooper asking if I can remember what it’s like to be in my mother’s womb is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.


Supergirl: Basically… Superman’s cousin. The trailer is pretty much the whole pilot boiled down so you may want to skip it. It doesn’t look bad, but it’s an extremely strange choice for CBS. This would infinitely more at home on The CW and I think it’s going to struggle to get the ratings that CBS want.

New later in the year
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders – another attempt to land a Criminal Minds spin off, this time starring Gary Sinise and taking the show on an international tour. The planted pilot wasn’t bad (although Anna Gunn has apparently departed the series) and the added complexity of dealing with international law has some potential. Sinise needs to make sure he’s not just recreating his character from CSI New York though.

Rush Hour – Buddy Cop drama based on the films.

Same old, same old: Castle, NCIS LA, Criminal Minds

There are two reasons for the style of this group of reviews.
1) Between them, the three shows have clocked up 20 seasons. Once they settled in, they’ve been pretty consistent in their strengths and weaknesses. I’m running out of original things to say about them.
2)I’m pretty far behind on my reviewing, and powering through three reviews was likely the only way I was going to catch up.

ncislaNCIS: LA: Season 5
Yay, still the same – the characters and the relationships between them are great, and the banter between them just about perfect. From season 4: “The banter between characters is laugh out loud funny. [It] feels like real people talking, with pop-culture references, sarcasm, recurrent jokes, flashes of anger, touches of fondness.”
Boo, still the same – the plots. They’re getting more and more disposable and I rarely pay them the slightest bit of attention. You can generally be solved by the audience in the first few minutes through the power of looking for the random witness who actually got speaking lines, and I’m not sure the writers even care about that.
Anything new? – the development of the characters and relationship between Deeks and Kensi was interestingly done. The story about Kensi in Afghanistan was another example of me not caring about the actual details of the plot, but enjoying where it took the character. It was also a particularly elegant way of dealing with an actress on maternity leave.
Optimism for the future – pretty high actually, they don’t seem to be breaking the characters or letting them get stale like original NCIS did, and given that the plots are utterly irrelevant, it’s hard to make them worse.

CriminalMindsCriminal Minds: season 9
Yay, still the same – the individual storylines are still original and interesting even after hundreds of episodes. The regular and guest casts never fail to show the emotional impact of crimes. So even if the crimes are extreme, Criminal Minds still feels more realistic than most other crime procedurals.
Boo, still the same – From season 2, “My biggest complaint about season 2 is that they try to make it too personal in places”. Every season since I’ve made the same complaint and that the big storylines just haven’t worked. This one was no different, the cryptic references to something in JJs past didn’t intrigue me in the slightest and the violent resolution felt like it crossed a line into gratuitous.
Anything new? – Back last season I actually predicted a problem the show was about to have. “I think the writers made a mistake this season with the introduction of Blake. She arrived during the unseen summer months, so was pretty much integrated with the team by the time the audience met her and just blended in as if she’d always been there. The writers missed an opportunity to have a new take on the other characters, and a shift in the dynamics of the team.” That carried through, I never engaged with her character, and so her leaving meant nothing. Hopefully the writers will learn from this and do a better job introducing her replacement.
Optimism for the future – middling. My interest levels are starting to wain a bit and I’m not sure how much longer this show can keep going. A new character might inject some energy, but I thought that with Blake and they mucked it up.

castleCastle: Season 6
Yay, still the same – Nathan Fillion is still charm on a stick, Stana Katic gives him a run for his money and there are plenty of moments of sweetness and humour held together with serviceable plots.
Boo, still the same – Will someone please do something with the supporting characters? They’re gradually being reduced to little more than cameos and they can do better. Mind you, if the only thing the writers can offer is of the quality of plot and boyfriend that Alexis got landed with, maybe Esposito, Ryan, Martha and Lanie (remember Lanie?) are better off without stories.
Anything new? God do I ever not give a crap about Castle and Becket’s wedding! The endless debates about venues and dresses and spending a fortune on everything seemed extremely out of touch with reality. I’m not really a wedding person, so maybe this worked for other people, but to me, Castle and Becket are together and happy, everything else is just unnecessary fussing.
Optimism for the future – not great. After a year of building up to it, they didn’t even manage to walk down the aisle and I’m not sure I can face another year discussing caterers.

Criminal Minds: Season 8

CriminalMindsWith up to 24 episodes in a standard season in the US, series tend to develop a kind of two tier system. Most of the episodes are standardised, they follow a similar structure, mostly unremarkable plots and fairly minimal character development. Optimistically the episodes will have enough in them to reward fans and regular viewers, but won’t overly penalise casual viewers if they don’t watch every week. The second type of episode are the bigger ones, designed to draw in higher ratings and get people talking. They’ll usually be at the start and end of the season and during sweeps week where advertisers pay particular notice. They’ll have bigger budgets, bigger guest stars, bigger stories, bigger peril and generally speaking – just bigger.

My feeling with Criminal Minds is that it excels at the small.

Criminal Minds is one of the stronger procedural shows on air at the moment. It embraces the seriousness of the cases it deals with, the reality of the destruction that crime causes to victims, perpetrators, investigators and all their friends and families. I can easily see how some might find the brutality to be exploitative, even labelling it as torture porn, but I don’t personally find it objectionable. I think the series uses an interesting variety of points of view and even after nearly 200 cases, episodes still feel fresh and innovative.

That said, the arc storyline this season was a bit of a mess. The “Replicator” (the BSU don’t give names to serial killers unless they’re the ones being targeted?) wound his way through the season with blink-and-you’ll-miss-them references bolted on to the end of episodes like some weird sponsorship deal. I never did quite work out how they all fit together and the eventual revelation of the unsub felt considerably less well thought out than most of the ‘villain of the week’ cases. It all came across too much like some kind of comic-book super villain, which just didn’t fit in with the rest of the series. It all felt hammy and over done.

On the other hand though, the writers completely under-played the arrival of a new team member. Criminal Minds seems to have a higher turnover than many series, by my estimate, over the past 8 seasons the team has seen 5 people leave and 5 people join, which sounds like a lot (compare to just 2 new people and 1 departure from the main team in 10 seasons of NCIS), but if you consider that JJ left and came back and Prentiss joined the team, left, returned and then left again, it becomes a little less remarkable. I think the writers made a mistake this season with the introduction of Blake. She arrived during the unseen summer months, so was pretty much integrated with the team by the time the audience met her and just blended in as if she’d always been there. The writers missed an opportunity to have a new take on the other characters, and a shift in the dynamics of the team.

Beyond that, I guess the biggest character storyline was Reid’s ridiculous relationship with a woman he had never met. It always frustrates me when characters’ private lives become tied up into cases and this was yet another example. I like learning more about characters and seeing them grow in the personal lives, but it just cheapens it somehow when it feels like that’s only done in order to drive sweeps week plots. Reid is a character at the very edges of reality at the best of times, there would have been more than enough fun to be had with him having a normal relationship, it didn’t need to be turned into a big drama. Mind you, he still gets a better deal than Rossi, who is revealed to have been in a relationship for a year just minutes before his partner is murdered.

My biggest frustration with Criminal Minds is that they get all the little things right and then mess up the big ones. The ‘filler’ episodes have some of the strongest and most interesting cases and the nicest and most satisfying little character moments. Several of the characters have perfectly normal relationships – they have their problems, but they’re all realistic considering at least half of each pairing has a very demanding job. Then at the end of each season I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth because they try to go big and it all feels forced and unlikely. It’s a shame that writers (or more likely network executives) don’t fully appreciate that less is more.

Criminal Minds: Season 7

Criminal Minds has had a couple of seasons of cast shake-ups, but season 7 was all about getting the band back together and returning both Prentiss and JJ to the fold. On the plus side it’s like very little ever changed. On the downside… it’s like very little ever changed. This isn’t going to be a particularly long review!

My resounding feeling at the end of the season was that it was… fine. The characters are now well established and generally pretty consistent. JJ was the only one that bucked the trend, she seems to have come back from her year with the Pentagon something of a super agent, not just now as good a profiler as everyone else, but also a bit of a kick ass action hero. Prentiss on the other hand came back from the grave pretty much unchanged which meant her sudden decision at the end of the season to leave the team again came a bit out of left field.

As per usual with Criminal Minds the attempts to do larger stories around the characters’ personal lives feel somewhat out of place. We’re introduced to Rossi’s ex-wife only to have her die of a terminal illness a couple of episodes later. It feels rather like cheating to introduce a never before seen character just to kill them off to see the effect on a central character. There was a similar problem with bringing JJ’s boyfriend in for the final episodes just so he could be held hostage and upset JJ. The more gradually introduced character of Hotch’s new girlfriend was handled a lot more smoothly and therefore had more long term impact.

The weekly cases were all variously bleak, depressing, gory, creepy and occasionally downright disturbing. I didn’t really remember any of them as particularly outstanding, and there didn’t seem to be as many high profile guest stars as previous seasons. I might have liked a little bit more in the way of long term storylines, but I did enjoy watching each episode so maybe I shouldn’t push my luck.

I genuinely can’t think of anything else to write about the season. Criminal Minds is an absolutely reliable series, always entertaining and interesting, but rarely particularly innovative. However compared to some of the other shows out there, reliable and competent is apparently more challenging than it may seem.

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