There's a lot going on in tonight's Criminal Minds
finale - it's the second half of a two-parter, and the final episode for Emily Prentiss (as played by Paget Brewster). Luckily, I had the opportunity to get a little help from CM
star Thomas Gibson before tonight's conclusion.
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Gibson (pictured above left, with Shemar Moore and Joe Mantegna) is a TV veteran, having played lead roles in Chicago Hope
and Dharma & Greg
before Criminal Minds
. He was that actor who put in consistently good work, but who wasn't necessarily always recognized for it. But over seven years of playing Special Agent Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner, he's gotten to take center stage again - and this time as an FBI agent who leads the team, kicks in the doors, and takes down the worst criminals.
What is he most proud of about tonight's finale? "I think the continuing to create the show that gives our audience the ride that they've come to enjoy and expect from us," he told me. "We're still delivering the goods. That makes me pretty proud, that we're still doing it."Criminal Minds
will be back for an eighth season, but it will be without the character of Prentiss, as Brewster has elected not to renew her contract. That's doubly thorny considering that she just recently returned to the series after being written out in season 6. Having been through the situation once before didn't make Brewster's second exit any easier on Gibson. "It's very tough," he said. "I understand that she wants to do something different, but the show will really miss her, our fans will really miss her, we will really miss her and I hope she comes back. It has been interesting to get some new people into the show, but to lose someone as integral to the show as Paget is tough."
Speaking of tough, the veteran CBS procedural is known for its sometimes hard to swallow content, which can be pretty dark and graphic considering the cases the Behavioral Analysis Unit deals with. "It is
hard to take," Gibson conceded. "As an actor, at a certain point, you say, 'Can't we do a comedy this week?' Unfortunately, there's actually a very interesting article in the New York Times
about the potential of diagnosing psychopathic kids. These are really interesting questions that we tackle on the show."
Nor is he in any rush to depart the role of Hotch, either. "That's what you get into it to do," he explained. "You want the meaty stuff. You want the challenge and the opportunity to sort of explore all facets of the character."
He's certainly qualified to talk about the subject of character development on the small screen, having done so much of it across such differing projects in the course of his career, whether it was as Dr. Daniel Nyland on the underrated medical drama Chicago Hope
, Greg Montgomery in the sitcom Dharma & Greg
, or his surprisingly great turn as an unlikely action hero in the Hallmark TV-movie The Lost Empire
. At one point, Wizard
magazine even suggested that he should play the superhero Green Lantern in a feature film, years before Ryan Reynolds was a recognizable name. At least when it comes to TV, Gibson has been there and done that, and done it well, with very little fanfare.
"It's amazing," he said of his career. "I remember seeing an article in the New York Times
when I first started doing television, and it was basically about how the most interesting writing was being done on television. It used to be that the most interesting writing was in the feature world. The opportunity to play a character for this long and take a character through all the changes that life brings is really interesting."
Which role does he now get recognized for most? "It's hard to say," he told me. "There are people who [still] talk about Chicago Hope
. Television's been very, very good to me." And that's not surprising when he's been very, very good on television for this long - and hopefully, we'll get to watch him for a long time to come.The Criminal Minds season finale airs tonight at 10 PM ET/PT on CBS. You can follow Thomas Gibson on Twitter at @gibsonthomas. For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my BuddyTV writer page, and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Image courtesy of CBS