One of the most recent crime dramas to be a success for CBS, "Criminal Minds" started in 2005 and continues to be a highly-rated series on the network. The show follows a group of workers at the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, including lead profiler Jason Gideon (Mandy Patankin, who left the show) and FBI agent Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson). The group, which also includes FBI BAU Senior Special Agent Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), FBI BAU Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gubler), FBI BAU Special Agent Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (AJ Cook) and others, tries to solve crimes and stop criminals by getting into their thought process. When the local police need their assistance, they fly across the country to study the crime scene and track down the one or ones responsible.
As the second season begins, the characters must try to catch an "unsub" ("Unknown Subject Of An Investigation") who is behind the attack of Agent Elle Greenaway, which happened at the end of the first season. The episode is a strong effort from the series, as it's an intense psychological thriller with some strong twists and turns. As with other episodes this season, the series offers up a fast-paced procedural with strong performances from a terrific ensemble cast. There are quite a few different crime dramas on television today, from "CSI" to "Law and Order". While "Criminal Minds" is yet another addition to the crowd, it's actually quite a compelling one.
As for the cast, Thomas Gibson is especially good as ace profiler Hotchner. While Gibson has previously been known largely for "Dharma and Greg", he offers an intense, commanding and often powerful performance here that certainly impresses. Gubler is also terrific as a genius who does a nice job playing a brilliant character not too "geeky". Shemar Moore and newcomer Padget Brewster are also very good, as well.
Some of the stronger episodes of the season include: "The Fisher King: Part II" (As the team continues to decipher more clues, Reid flies in his mother from the sanitarium, where she claims she knew a mysterious figure called the Fisher King), "No Way Out" (Gideon sits in a diner in Nevada, trying to negotiate with a serial killer named Frank - played very creepily by guest star Keith Carradine - one of the worst he's ever encountered), "Revelations" (a killer kidnaps Reid, who, while being drugged and tortured, flashes back to his painful childhood), "Jones" (a son takes over a case for his father, who dies during Hurricane Katrina), "No Way Out: Part II" (Frank returns, targeting victims who Gideon has saved).
23. 2- 1 20 Sep 06 The Fisher King (2)
24. 2- 2 27 Sep 06 P911
25. 2- 3 4 Oct 06 The Perfect Storm
26. 2- 4 11 Oct 06 Psychodrama
27. 2- 5 18 Oct 06 Aftermath
28. 2- 6 25 Oct 06 The Boogeyman
29. 2- 7 1 Nov 06 North Mammon
30. 2- 8 8 Nov 06 Empty Planet
31. 2- 9 15 Nov 06 The Last Word
32. 2-10 22 Nov 06 Lessons Learned
33. 2-11 29 Nov 06 Sex, Birth, Death
34. 2-12 13 Dec 06 Profiler, Profiled
35. 2-13 17 Jan 07 No Way Out (1)
36. 2-14 4 Feb 07 The Big Game
37. 2-15 7 Feb 07 Revelations
38. 2-16 14 Feb 07 Fear and Loathing
39. 2-17 21 Feb 07 Distress
40. 2-18 28 Feb 07 Jones
41. 2-19 21 Mar 07 Ashes and Dust
42. 2-20 11 Apr 07 Honor Among Thieves
43. 2-21 2 May 07 Open Season
44. 2-22 9 May 07 Legacy
45. 2-23 16 May 07 No Way Out (2): The Evilution of Frank
VIDEO: "Criminal Minds" is presented by Paramount in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is generally terrific, with sharpness and detail that are mostly terrific. Some slight grain is noticed here-and-there, but this seems to be an intentional element of the cinematography. Some minor artifacting is spotted, but no edge enhancement is seen. Colors looked a tad subdued, but seemed accurate to the intent of the show.
SOUND: "Criminal Minds" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The show does offer a somewhat more aggressive audio presentation than most TV fare, but much of the show's sound is still spread across the front speakers. Surrounds do kick in during the most intense scenes, offering up sound effects and some detailed ambience. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and effects.
EXTRAS: A set of four commentaries are included:
On "The Fisher King: Part 2": Edward Allen Bernero and Amanda Bernero.
On "The Perfect Storm": Erica Messner, Debra J. Fisher and Nicki Aycox
On "Profiler, Profiled": Edward Allen Bernero, Shemar Moore and Glenn Kershaw
On "Revelations": Chris Mundy and Matthew Gray Gubler.
We also get a gag reel (which, for such a dark show, is surprisingly funny), deleted scenes and four featurettes: "Profilers, Profiled", "The Physical Evidence", "Meet Kristen Vangsness" and "Behavioral Sciences: Real-Life Criminal Minds".
Final Thoughts: While it may seem like another addition to an already crowded field, "Criminal Minds" stands up nicely, as its terrific ensemble cast and fast, intense mysteries are often riveting. The DVD presentation offers terrific audio/video quality and some solid extras. Recommended.