'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior' Review: Why?
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Does the world really need a Criminal Minds spin-off? Probably not, but I guess CBS does, which is why Suspect Behavior premieres tonight at 10pm following the original.
Just like Criminal Minds, Suspect Behavior follows a
Behavioral Analysis Unit working out of Quantico, Virginia and traveling
across the country to investigate criminals. This is the first of many
problems I have with the show. While the spin-offs for CSI and NCIS are set in different cities, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior
is literally the exact same show, only with different people. And
that's not even entirely true since the spin-off also features Kirsten
Vangsness as the unit's lab tech, Penelope Garcia.
The spin-off also continues the trend of hiring Oscar-winning or Oscar-nominated actors to appear in crime procedurals that are completely beneath their level of talent. CSI: NY has Gary Sinise, NCIS: Los Angeles has Linda Hunt and now Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior has Forest Whitaker. If you've seen him in The Shield, you know that Whitaker is capable of a lot more than looking worried while trying to figure out how a serial killer thinks.
Suspect Behavior also features Janeane Garofalo and West Wing Emmy-winner Richard Schiff as the unit's chief. There's absolutely no reason for that kind of acting power in a generic spin-off, but nonetheless, CBS has decided to do it.
Why? Because they can. With Suspect Behavior, CBS launches it third crime drama franchise and these shows now make up more than one-third of the network's entire schedule. The ratings for CSI: Miami and NCIS: Los Angeles proof that, much like the baseball diamond in Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come.
So CBS has made a carbon copy of a successful show and hopes that viewers will be so brain-dead that they'll accidentally assume it's the same show and watch it anyway. Suspect Behavior doesn't take place in a new city nor does it feature a different investigative style.
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior isn't just a spin-off, it's a clone, an attempt by the network to see just how little they need to work to get huge ratings. With minimal changes, any rejected Criminal Minds script could be used for Suspect Behavior.
It's the ultimate achievement in the network's systematic attempt to streamline and dumb down its entire lineup. If this show succeeds, then fans can probably look forward to other remakes of current shows. Hawaii Five-1? The Mentaler? Bluer Bloods? CSI: Vegas Strip? That's the future of CBS if enough people tune in to Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, so please, do the world a favor and don't.
(Image courtesy of CBS)