CBS has many of my favorite shows including CSI, CSI Miami and CSI New York, Without A Trace, The Unit, Cold Case, Numb3rs and Criminal Minds. In TV Land CBS is becoming known for excelling in the crime drama genre and deservedly so.
If I had to pick a favorite from these top ranked dramas, I would be hard pressed to do so, since all of the shows evolve from solid plots that are well-written and acted.
Last Fall I instantly fell in love with the hair raising Criminal Minds (Wednesdays at 9:00 PM) which left me biting my nails, sitting on the edge of my seat while completely satisfying my love of true crime mysteries.
The cast is truly spectacular with incredible actors including the always magnetic Mandy Patinkin as top behavioral analyst Special Agent Jason Gideon, seasoned actor Thomas Gibson as Aaron Hotchner, Lola Glaudini as Elle Greenaway (Dolores Mayo - NYPD Blue), Shemar Moore as playboy Derek Morgan (Birds Of Prey - Jesse Reese), AJ Cook as Jennifer Jareau and one of my favorites, the striking Matthew Gray Gubler as boy genius Dr. Spencer Reid.
Kristen Vangsnes (LAX - Stephanie) is the resident computer guru, Garcia, who performs magical Internet and database tricks to unearth all sorts of helpful date to track the latest perpetrators (perps). She also operates on the fringes and has a love/fear/adoration relationship with boss Gideon.
Interwoven into each episode along with the current mystery is an undercurrent of personal tidbits about the key players.
Throughout the first season viewers have learned that Special Agent Jason Gideon is a man who is fiercely protective of his privacy and freaks out when it is breeched.
Meanwhile Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson - Dharma Loves Greg) struggles with loyalty to the FBI and his family, which includes a wife and newborn at home. Elle Greenaway has a reason for specializing in sexual crimes but slowly showed bits and pieces of her softer, playful side.
Special Agent Morgan loves women and they return the affection. He works hard and plays to win. The blonde and beautiful Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (Lindsay Walker - Tru Calling) holds the team together as the official unit liaison and super nerdy Dr. Spence Reid reveals a mentally disturbed mother and his frustration with his low social IQ status.
Truth be told, I originally tuned into Criminal Minds because of the award winning acting (Tony & Emmy Awards) Mandy Patinkin. I have been a huge fan of his and adored his role in Dead Like Me, a quirky series about a team of grim reapers, managed by Patinkin.
I loved Mandy as the perpetual crabby doctor Jeffrey Geiger in Chicago Hope but really enjoyed his work with the grim reaping crew.
Of course I have been a fan of true crime since my days at the University of Missouri when I took my first Deviant Behavior classes in Sociology. From textbook studies of serial killers I graduated to Ann Rule, Carlton Stowers and Jack Olsen - to name just a few of my current favorite authors.
I was somewhat skeptical that a show based on FBI profiling could be as good as the books I read, but I was out in the weeds. Mandy is an incredible actor and leads the cast with his hard hitting performance as a very intense man on a life and death mission.
How ironic that in Dead Like Me he was also dealing with death on a daily basis, but from a completely different perspective, although equally thought provoking. Even though he is on the other side of the the death fence, so to speak, the television, film and renowned stage actor makes the role completely real. And yes, he is my favorite in the current ensemble.
As Special Agent Aaron Hotchner actor Thomas Gibson takes a completely different turn in his acting career. Beloved by many for his role as Greg Montgomery for five years in the top rated Dharma Loves Greg, Thomas plays a completely different character.
He convincingly and brilliantly portrays Hotchner as a very intelligent and serious man struggling with balancing his all-consuming career in the Bureau with his love of his wife and newborn child.
As a talented profiler, Gibson also offers insight into Hotchner's conflicts as the second in command under the very demanding and somewhat mercurial Gideon.
Matthew Gray Gubler
One of the many exceptional aspects of Criminal Minds is the way that the cast producers have done a fabulous job of styling and coiffing each of the main characters to symbolize their roles on the FBI team and in the show. Matthew Gray Gubler is a perfect example of dressing the part.
According to media reports, Matthew was specifically dressed and coiffed to give the appearance of a brilliant but definitely nerdy scientist and profiler. .
To create the right look, Gubler wore his hair long to give the impression of ultimate nerdiness. He also wore drab sweater vests and slacks and carried a satchel over his shoulder.
As the clueless but super brainy nerd, In the current environment where women adore nerds, Matthew is sizzling hot.
It's hard to believe that Matthew was originally a sought after model who strolled the Marc Jacobs, Burberry and Louis Vuitton fashion runways. His onscreen nerdiness didn't prevent him from recently being featured in Paper Magazine's 8th annual Beautiful People issue.
Matthew appeared in the quirky feature film "The Life Aquatic" with Steve Zissou and Bill Murray, as Murray's long lost illegitimate son. He also is a successful film maker with several short films under his belt and appeared in the film, R.V.
The Cast Plays Well Together
One of the things that can kill a new television show is when there is a lack of chemistry between the characters. This is often a major complaint of fans and critics. I am not trained as a bona fide TV show critic - I am trained more to study and analyze hair trends. But I just know what I like and what feels right.
Criminal Minds has a perfect blending of different personalities that seem to work in appropriate harmony or disharmony, depending on the criminal case being investigated. In other words, the cast has a very real relationship that is a wonderful subplot.
The team is made up of opposites that attract and repell. Jason Gideon is tightly wound while his second in command, Aaron Hotchner is cool as a cucumber and always level headed. Derek Morgan is a hot ladies man while Dr. Spencer Reid definitely has limited experience in wooing the ladies.
The ladies of Criminal Minds are also an unusual mix. Elle Greenaway is fierce and determined to put sexual predators away while Jennifer Jareau is the peacemaker, keeping tempers from flaring and re-directing misguided focus. Garcia, who swoons when Derek calls her sweet names is visibly nervous around Gideon although obviously concerned with winning his praise and admiration for her work.
Ironically, Gideon finds Garcia's borderline neediness somewhat annoying while understanding his need for her contribution to the team. It is a truly fascinating character mix.
Criminal Minds is a fast paced, well-written and produced show that blends enlightenment with sometimes witty repartee wrapped around suspense, drama and very believable events. It also blends true scary moments intermingled with mystery.
Many of the episodes had undertones of current news events that made the characters very real and the events so true-to-life that it seemed taken out of the latest FBI files.
Be sure and catch this incredible new show on Summer reruns (or plan to buy the first season DVD) so that you are completely caught up for the Fall series which will start with a major cliffhanger that picks up the from the breathtaking final show of Season One that had a serial killer stalking the team.
My personal cliffhanger was worrying whether this fantastic new show would survive its first season. In TV Land it is often hard for brand new shows to capture an instant audience to allow it to survive long enough to put down rating roots. I am so grateful to CBS for bringing this great show back for round two that I am talking the show up to all my friends.
Kudos to CBS and the cast of crew of Criminal Minds for a fabulous first season.
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