When it comes to crime shows, finding a unique angle can be nearly impossible to do. It seems a new crime drama is popping up on a weekly basis, and ideas get worn out quickly. “Criminal Minds” is a fine example of a show taking a well worn television path, and turning it into something that is wholly unique. What makes “Criminal Minds” unusual is also the driving force behind why it is the best. Here are five reasons that “Criminal Minds” is the best crime drama currently running on television today:
The Profile Angle
When it comes to crime shows, the vast majority of them focus on the crimes themselves and the people who chase them. While “Criminal Minds” certainly does that, it spends way more time focusing on the criminals and their profiles–why they do what they do. Criminal profiling is a realistic and valuable tool that the FBI and police officers across the country use every day to seek out criminals of all kinds. It is touched upon with other crime shows, but “Criminal Minds” is centered around this aspect of hunting down killers and saving lives.
They Go “There”
“Criminal Minds” is not a show that kids should be seeing, and this is exactly what makes it so impossible to turn the channel for us adults. The cases are gruesome, heart wrenching and real. They do not try to candy coat the real life serial murderers that are in our midst, and in doing so they have managed to bring serial murder into prime time consciousness. What is truly amazing about “Criminal Minds,” however, is that they do this without seeming exploitative. That is no small feat given the lengths they go to show the details of their cases.
The Learning Factor
While certainly “Criminal Minds” is must-see television in dramatic fashion, they are also a pretty good learning tool for those that are naive about the world we live in. “Criminal Minds” shows crimes that are horrid in nature, but it teaches us about the evil that is among us. While some of the stories are made up, they are all loosely based on past or present cases. This leads the viewer to ask tough questions about what they might do if faced with such a dangerous situation. That might even save some lives one day and may have already.
Continuity and Logic
Most crime dramas eventually become convoluted and unrecognizable after a season or two. “Criminal Minds” has stayed true to their history and story lines throughout their six-plus seasons, and give the viewer a reason to think back on virtually every episode. This helps them make true connections with Agent Hotch and his team of FBI behavior analysts, and makes each episode necessary to the next. When an episodic television show can do this effectively, they have a long time winner. “Criminal Minds” fits that bill perfectly.
Magical Casting Choices
Thomas Gibson, formerly of “Dharma and Greg” fame, is the perfect choice for FBI Special Agent Aaron Hotchner. His blank and focused demeanor shows strength, but does so without sacrificing compassion when those moments are called for. He is the perfect leader for the team.
Joe Mantegna is also an incredible coup for the “Criminal Minds” cast, as he brings an elite feeling to the group. As Agent Rossi, Mantegna plays a veteran profiler that has demons in his own background, even while chasing those that are around every corner of their world. The balance seems to be hanging right on the edge with Rossi, and that brings built in tension to every episode as well.
Pagat Brewster is actually one of the most valuable assets to the show, as she brings a levity that otherwise would not be present. Her wit and drive are vital to “Criminal Minds” and she is growing into her character of Agent Prentiss with each season. She is developing into a fine leader in her own right, and that growth is a good example of excellent writing and character development. It is easy to envision her as the leader of this group at some point in the future.
Shemar Moore is excellent as well, though he can be a bit over the top at times. The only thing I do not like about “Criminal Minds” is the fact that Moore is often brooding. The shows in which they have allowed him to explore a wittier side were some of the best. As an agent that specializes in obsessive criminals and crimes, a moody and brooding type is called for. Still, it would not hurt for them to have him stretch his emotive wings a bit more often.
Dr. Spencer Reid and Penelope Garcia are the best things going on “Criminal Minds.” Played to perfection by up and comers Matthew Gray Gubler and Kirsten Vangsness, these two are the gas that makes the team go. Kirsten in particular keeps the show light when it is needed. That is often with such a dark and gloomy subject matter. Matthew has become a bit of a primary character as his psychological insights paint the clearest picture of life’s most unexplainable crimes.
While these are only some of the reasons why “Criminal Minds” is the best crime drama on television today, they highlight the best thing about great episodic television – uniqueness and continuity. Without these two factors, a crime drama just becomes exploitation television at best. “Criminal Minds” is way above such considerations and sets the bar for the other crime shows to strive for.
“Criminal Minds”, CBS.com
“Criminal Minds Episode List”, CBS.com