Criminal Minds fans still aren’t fully accustomed to the idea of a spin-off for their favorite show, but from the looks of things it’s a go for the Forest Whitaker-led Criminal Minds spin-off as CBS unveils its 11 drama pilots for 2010. It’s also obvious that the network wants to take advantage of its procedural boom, with the spin-off taking the cake.

Other than Whitaker, the Criminal Minds spin-off will also star Matt Ryan, Michael Kelly, Beau Garrett and Jason Wiles. It will be introduced via backdoor pilot this season on the mothership as a special two-hour episode. Skeptical fans of the top-rating procedural can take comfort in the fact that the original’s writing and executive producing team will be onboard to oversee things; that, and that no one from the original team will jump the fence.

It’s pretty much how CBS extended the NCIS franchise with NCIS: Los Angeles, and today the duo’s one-two punch is doing superbly on Tuesday night.

Whitaker, who won an Academy Award for his role on The Last King of Scotland in 2007, will play the dynamic, mysterious, and charming father figure on the spin-off, who will take the reins as leader of the new group of profilers who work outside the FBI bureaucracy. His character Cooper is a former star profiler in Criminal Minds‘ BAU before going off the radar for the past eight years.

Garrett, meanwhile, will play Gina, a thirty-ish woman who escaped the streets of Baltimore, only to end up being sent back to them as an undercover agent. After her father died, she quit the FBI until Cooper re-recruited her.

The other characters include Mick, a 30-year-old ex-British Special Forces operative and a sniper who’s as good with words as he is with a firearm, and Prophet, a born-again African-American ex-con who’s eager to get a clean slate after jail time.

Criminal Minds the original returns with a new episode on March 3, with Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Spencer Reid on the show, taking on a guest director spot.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

Glenn Diaz

Staff Writer, BuddyTV