There’s a reason why Criminal Minds is currently filming its eighth season – it’s like no other crime procedural show on the air. Watching the Season One box set, it’s clear why the show is so successful.
Not a show for the faint-hearted, Criminal Minds follows the Behavioural Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI as they investigate the most depraved of crimes. What makes this show unique? As opposed to other crime shows, like CSI, which uses scientific evidence and methods to catch criminals, the BAU profile and try to identify characteristics, motivations and traits of the Unidentified Suspect (Unsub).
The show is a very interesting exploration of the criminal psyche, with an engaging and diverse cast of characters. Led by cool Agent Hotchner and intense Agent Gideon, the BAU is full of interesting characters. Season One features the brilliant, yet socially awkward Dr Reid, the streetwise obsessional crimes expert Agent Morgan, the steely sexual crimes expert Agent Greenaway and their cheery, sassy tech support Penelope Garcia. Dr Reid immediately became my favourite character – his awkwardness combined with his genius status (he holds 3 PhDs and has an IQ of 187 at the age of 24) endeared him to me – he is so sweet, I can’t help but want to hug him every time he pronounces some factoid related to the case.
While the range of different cases and criminals is enough to draw you in, what really pulls the show together is the interactions between the team. Whether it be a casual endearment between Morgan and Garcia, or Gideon coaching Reid through his nightmares, the writers of Criminal Minds use the little moments amid all of the violence and horror of the show to remind you of the goodness of human nature, and the happiness that can come from a quiet moment with a friend.
Each case in season one looks at a different kind of crime, giving insights into the psyche of a range of different mentalities. Standout episodes include ‘Derailed’ which follows a tense hostage situation on a train with a paranoid schizophrenic who believes that he has been microchiped by the government who has set FBI agents to monitor him. Excellent acting by both Matthew Grey Gubler and Lola Glaudini (Greenaway) as well as an incredible performance by Chris Bauer as the unsub create an unforgettable episode. Other highlights are ‘Blood Hungry’, ‘Natural Born Killer’ and the season finale ‘The Fisher King (Part One)’ which leaves the season on a killer cliffhanger, literally.
There are only a few extras on the box set, but the quality overcomes the lack of quantity. There are several commentaries by the makers of the series which are well worth a listen – as someone who likes to know a little more about the series, these commentaries gave an interesting insight into the world of the show. The ‘Making Of’ feature is also more than I expected – it really gets into the world, and characters, exploring what makes the show tick. Similarly, the profile of Matthew Grey Gubler is particularly interesting, looking at his personal history and gives you an insight into his characterisation of Reid.
An excellent start to a brilliant TV show, Criminal Minds season one is well worth a watch – it’ll hook you and leave you wanting more.
Criminal Minds: The First Series (2005), is distributed on DVD in the UK by Walt Disney Studios, Certificate 15.