Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pilot Review: Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (CBS)
Premiered February 16 at 10pm

I’ve never quite understood the recent enthusiasm for spinoffs of crime procedurals, especially when there aren’t even any characters from the original series being transplanted to the new show. That said, one of my favorite procedurals, one which I’ve since stopped watching, “NCIS,” was itself technically a spinoff of the same sort. Even if that’s true, however, this pilot doesn’t even come close to matching the quality or energy of that show. This is as run-of-the-mill as they get, and there isn’t one thing to me that makes it stand out from the sea of shows featuring crime task forces of some kind. It’s especially disappointing given the fact that Forest Whitaker is at the helm of this team. Whitaker has demonstrated that he’s capable of playing a complex cop before in “The Shield,” though there is this unfortunate trend of actors on cable shows, such as Michael Chiklis and Alex O’Loughlin on that very same FX series, whose turns on broadcast network shows are considerably less impressive. Whitaker is generally one-note, and the same is true of the usually entertaining and sarcastic Janeane Garofalo, whose role seems to have been stripped of all personality. This plays just like a “Law & Order” entry, with an intro similar to its “SVU” opening, signaling that there’s some sort of link between this and its lead-in show. Functionally, it reminds me of “The Forgotten,” which isn’t exactly a winning recommendation. This pilot falls prey several times to being overly self-congratulatory and trying to endow its characters with an insight that it presumes the viewer doesn’t have. It’s not nearly as clever as it thinks it is, and it’s hardly engaging. I don’t have any desire to check back in to this show.

How will it work as a series? Procedurals can go on forever. There are an infinite number of cases to be explored, and this “suspect behavior” focus should enable just as many possible plotlines. Having one of the squad’s members as a pedophile murderer is intriguing, though it’s slightly disconcerting that he came face-to-face with a child abductor in the first episode, meaning that that card has already been played. There’s still a whole team of people left, so the wealth can be shared.
How long will it last? Possibly forever. Seriously, though, the original “Criminal Minds” is already in its sixth season, and this series premiere was watched by more people than that show. This seems to be a very popular genre, and therefore I have no doubt that this show, however unappealing it is to me, will live a long and (disturbing only in content) happy life, earning a renewal pretty soon.

Pilot grade: C-

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