Criminal Minds premiered on CBS on 22nd September 2005 and became the network’s signature show.
The show and its viewers have been through a lot during its 15-year run. Despite multiple changes in casting and directors, the show has managed to preserve its essence and fundamentals.
This helped the show climb the rating charts, and it remained one of CBS’s most-watched shows for 15 years, in the face of some serious competition.
1. Quick Review
While the first seasons were praised for their tight-knit plots and characterization, the show started losing its charm after the first seven or eight seasons. The writers have done a commendable job of keeping a franchise alive for so long.
They’ve found appropriate substitutes whenever a regular cast member has departed and weaved them into the story.
The show was one of the first police procedurals that focused on the analysis and psychological side of criminal behavior. The first three seasons are especially good with some severe, grim cases.
2. Is It Worth Watching?
Criminal Minds has spawned a franchise during its marathon run featuring two spinoffs and two video games.
While the spinoffs Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders were both canceled due to low ratings, the mothership has stood the test of time.
Criminal Minds was one of the first shows that dived into the genre of psycho-analysis and criminal profiling. Both of these are essential tools used for catching criminals in the FBI.
The story revolves around a group of profilers who work for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI.
They use character and behavioral analysis to catch perpetrators while dealing with their own personal and professional lives.
Most of the characters had a traumatic childhood or a repressed psychological issue that was an essential part of their development.
They battle their traumas, and the series forces you to introspect. It provides you with a deeper understanding into the minds of criminals and answers WHY they commit such acts.
II. Cast and Characters
Criminal Minds has always received acclaim for providing sophisticated, multi-layered characters that have routine everyday struggles.
Their relationship and friendship issues connect with the viewer and keep them hooked to the show.
The show initially had seven original cast members who were replaced as the seasons went on. Several new characters were also introduced, and at least nine supporting actors are credited in the show.
Thomas Gibson played Aaron Hotchner for twelve seasons, a senior investigator and former prosecutor who struggles to juggle his work and marriage.
Mandy Patinkin of Homeland fame played the BAU chief and senior supervisory agent Jason Gideon for the first three seasons.
Matthew Gubler is one of the cast members that stayed with the series throughout all the seasons. He played the prodigy, Spencer Reid, a quirky analytical genius who was a fan favorite.
Lola Glaudini, Shemar Moore, A.J. Cook, and Kirsten Vangsness are the other original cast members. Joe Mantegna, Rachel Nichols, Aisha Tyler, and Daniel Henney joined the franchise in later seasons.
III. Detailed Review
The show, like any other cop drama, followed a one-case-per-episode script. The first episodes were a little clichéd as the writers and the cast were still figuring out the groove, but the series quickly found its groove.
Full of twists and turns, Criminal Minds became a household name with compelling cases being broadcast every Friday night.
The show managed to pay attention to the character arcs that stayed the longest, developing them into mature versions of their initial selves.
Each new character was organically embedded into the story while a departing member was written off in style.
For the past five years, the Criminal Minds fan-base has shrunk with only the most loyal fans clinging on. This is due to a combination of fatigue and repetition in the show, and the fans demand something new.
Other similar shows on OTT platforms have managed to provide more shocking storylines and gripping cases that have attracted viewers.
During this, the writing of Criminal Minds hasn’t depreciated, and it has managed to churn out new cases and episodes with call-backs to old killers.
3. Final Thoughts
While both of the spinoffs crashed and burned, Criminal Minds remains a good show that has left behind a legacy that is hard to compete with.
The show is available on Netflix and can be viewed as a straight binge, or something to pass the time with. It’s a good show that paved the way for many others and should be on your list of police shows.