On April 7, 2010, Criminal Minds gave us a sneak preview of a spin-off in the works for the show that has not been popular with the critics, but is a hit with many television viewers. The show will reportedly feature the Academy Award winning actor, Forest Whitaker, in the lead. CBS hopes that this show will be as popular as Criminal Minds is with fans.
I think the reason Criminal Minds is so popular among viewers are the same reasons I enjoy watching it, because it is interesting and thought provoking, at least it used to be that way.
I liked the way this show approached the part of a criminal investigation that delves into the minds of the criminals' thought process, revealing the reasons criminals commit certain crimes.
My two favorite actors and characters of Criminal Minds are Shemar Moore, who plays Derek Morgan, and Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Dr. Spencer Reid. These two characters are the most interesting, because they are not the typical FBI agents you normally find on such shows.
Morgan is the average Joe, but someone who can force himself to think like a criminal to help solve the case. One of my favorite episodes dealt with Morgan's childhood and his experiences enabled him to solve the crime and heal old wounds.
Dr. Reid is a genius, with an IQ of 187, an eidetic memory, and is capable of reading 20,000 words per minute. His eidetic memory enables him to recall and reproduce visual imagery with great accuracy and with intricate details. I think these two characters are the most interesting and the two most viewers relate to, on a different level than the others.
Unfortunately, beginning with the current season of Criminal Minds, they have strayed away from solving the crime as they usually do, and instead switched to giving viewers a bird's eye view of the crime. In addition, sometimes they show the crime several times, like an instant replay during the hour. The increase in graphic violence recently is disappointing, because not showing it is what made Criminal Minds one of my favorite television programs.
On a crime drama such as Criminal Minds, there are always crimes committed of course, some of them horrendous and frightening. It intrigued me to see how the Behavior Unit of the FBI were able to solve these crimes and catch the perpetrator by figuring out what made them commit the crime in the first place.
However, the crimes have become more violent and they, like other popular crime shows, are showing the graphically violent crimes. The first show of the season was one of the most violent crimes I have seen on any show.
I am not a prude and I do not have a weak stomach, but I do not feel Criminal Minds needed to change so drastically, from what it once was. The concept of finding the criminals by analyzing the crime scene to figure out what type of person commits these sorts of crimes. Many fans felt by not showing the crime, it made it a more interesting and more entertaining concept for a crime drama.
Showing the gory details of the crime is similar to overkill, no pun intended. Many people do not need to see a crime to get the idea of what happened to the victim. Writers did not need to write this violence into the script for its current fans, and I cannot understand why they are doing so now.
Perhaps they are trying to attract a bigger audience, as some TV critics have suggested, but in doing so, they cheapen the show from what it used to be for the current fans.
It is similar to what has been happening over the last several years with the CSI programs. The show used to be all about gathering the evidence and finding the perpetrator through clues found in that evidence. They began showing the graphic violence several years ago on the original CSI show.
I remember the night I first noticed it. It was about a man who committed suicide, staging it to look like murder, so his family would collect the life insurance. They figured out that the man placed a knife in between a door and the hinge, blade side out, and repeatedly backed into the knife, until it killed him. That idea was bad enough, but the writers or producers decided to show the audience how he did it. They did not only show it once. They showed it several times during the course of an hour. I had to look away each time.
That is not entertainment for me. In my opinion, that is something I would expect to see in a slasher film, not in the top-rated drama on television.
What disturbs me almost as much as the graphic violence they show, is the belief that the writers are trying to keep up with the viewing public. I believe that watching violence on television does make you immune to the violence and after a while, a little violence is not enough. It has to be bloodier, gorier, and more graphic. I do not watch the original CSI faithfully as I once did.
I watch the crime dramas to be entertained, not horrified. The element of fear came from showing less, not more, of the capabilities of a disturbed mind.
I hope that Criminal Minds can get back to what it was, and I look forward to seeing the Criminal Minds spin-off.
photos courtesy of
Criminal Minds on CBS