criminal minds 88.
(photo credit: courtesy)
You. Out there. We know you. You're 47 years old; like humous with your pita; prefer Diet Coke to Diet Pepsi; have a picture of your kids next to your computer; cheat at Scrabble; dream of vacationing in Italy but settle for three days at Club Inn in Eilat; and still think you look good with that moustache.
How do we know this? Intuition, my friend, the same way we know you like to smear Jell-o on balloons. Wait a minute, our profile's getting cloudy - better check in with master profiler Jason Gideon, AKA Mandy Patinkin (Chicago Hope, Dead Like Me), he of the new YES Stars series Criminal Minds,, which debuted this week (Mondays, 22:20) and made quite an impression.
Yes, Gideon, as he's referred to in the series, can walk into a room, look at a bunch of pictures and data on a wall, and know within seconds just who's behind the latest serial murder or wave of terror bombings. At least, that's what the creators of this fast-paced but not always credible crime drama would have you believe.
Case in point for openers was a serial killer who kidnapped young women. But first, we needed to know Gideon's back story, picked up in a Virginia classroom where he was lecturing to students on criminology. Suddenly he's being called away by team leader Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner (Thomas Gibson, AKA Greg of Dharma and Greg) to search for "The Seattle Strangler." "They want you back in the saddle," he's told. "Looks like medical leave's over, boss," says his geeky assistant Dr. Reid. AHA! MEDICAL LEAVE! SOMETHING'S UP WITH GIDEON says the script, in one of a few too many cases of telegraphing what's ahead.
No sooner than you can say Space Needle, Gideon's whisked out to Seattle with the rest of the Behavioral Analysis Unit. We learn he never stands with his back to a window, a form of what the 187 IQ Reed - perhaps given that name because, he brags, "I can read 20,000 words a minute" - explains is something called "hyper-vigilance." Or hyper scriptwriting, take your pick.
"It's been six months," someone says, alluding to a case Gideon had followed in Boston in which several members of his team were killed. Everyone's wondering: is he ready to go back to work?
Why sure, silly - you don't have to be a profiler to know that. In fact, Gideon's got all his old skills back working, like staring off into space, hearing only what he wants to hear in a room full of noise, etc. Patinkin does his best not to overact while performing the series of tics, squints, etc. designed to let us know he's some special dude.
The producers also employ some tricks of their own, so when Gideon describes a suspect's likely history - parents dying in a fire, for example - we're shown that incident on a screen in back of him. It's a bit hokey, but it works.
Far more annoying, however, is his character's constant quoting of anyone from Churchill to Emerson ("All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle.") Even his team does it, but when it's their turn, it's more likely to be Yoda. The Bartlett act wears a little thin, but it adds another layer to Gideon's character.
Patinkin's surrounding cast is good, especially Matthew Gray Gubler as Reid. And while the plot's fairly well-crafted, there's also a little too much of the obvious, as when it turned out that there was another person involved in the kidnappings, and one had to be blind to not guess who it was several minutes before Gabriel did.
Still, American audiences love solving a crime, the creepier the better, and this latest entry in that genre is doing well in the Nielsen ratings, despite copycat problems of its own, like the FBI computer geek woman who runs "The Office of Supreme Genius," a clear borrowing of The X-File's Lone Gunmen Society.
Ultimately, Gideon used a reference to the killer's manhood to win the day, and somewhere Dickens must be happy his Tiny Tim character saved a life. And who can be down on a series where the Hebrew etymology of the name Gideon is reviewed by Hotch, who's looking for a name for his soon-to-be-born child. And note to translator Golan Shimoni, listed in the YES credits: When Hotch and Gideon were discussing names on the plane home - with Hotch noting that many he was considering reminded him too much of serial killers past - when he said Charles, Gideon replied: "Manson?" NOT "Nelson." Egad.
Taking its place alongside series like NUM3ERS and others, Criminal Minds stands out mostly for Patinkin's fine efforts and a plot that moves, although ultimately turns out to be a bit simplistic for a program hyped to be complex. Nonetheless, by examining the premier, we can predict a second season ahead. OK, we peeked at the Internet. But how'd we know you still think those blue shorts don't make your butt look big?