TV Review: Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (CBS)


Forest Whitaker has been making a name for himself on the small screen over the past few years. His active movie career has made him a sought-after actor in the television genre. The season spent on The Shield let everyone in the field know he was willing to make the jump to television in a big way. For the first several episodes, Whitaker was an over-the-top movie actor with little flow for television. CBS is not FOX and Criminal Minds is not 24. Now that the facts are organized and understood, let’s get down to why “suspect behavior” works and why it doesn’t.

Having dropped “criminal minds” due to the prejudice toward the female characters, a willingness to slam this version was in the works. I was surprised to find female actresses willing to venture into the murky waters, with the full potential to be killed off, disregarded or simply forgotten in the first couple seasons. When the original “Criminal Minds” began getting better and more accolades were thrown their way, the powers that be started destroying the house they built.

Let’s start with the female roles. SSA Beth Griffith (Janeane Garofalo) is the go-to agent who walks the fence of knowledge but often has more questions than answers. They fail to use Garofalo as a strength, leaving that to the “man” in charge.

Unit Chief Samuel Cooper (Forest Witaker) is over-the-top with intensity that would not work well in the real world of the FBI. This is a different type of squad from what is often viewed as an FBI unit. Whitaker seems to bring too much of the big screen performer that just does not play out well on television.

SSA John Sims (Michael Kelly) has always walked on the other side of the law, but since his conviction and release he has been able to use his street smart skills in combination with the internal calm inside. Every time the team brings in another criminal, Sims feels closer to amending his past.

SSA Gina Lasalle (Beau Garrett) is mentally the toughest character of the group. She is a mirror image of Criminal Minds’s SSA Elle Greenaway who could exude confidence in almost any situation. Why write another character in this manner since destroying the first? Lasalle would be better off with different writers in a more diversified setting. Garrett’s style goes beyond the limits of this show.

SSA Mick Rawson (Matt Ryan), former British special forces agent, has a role that is unclear during this period. Rawson has extensive background in weaponry and is a highly-skilled marksman who keeps the team safe with his impeccable focus on the target.

Watching with noose around the neck for something better from Whitaker, the camera is almost always on him as ring leader not as team leader. This is not an ensemble cast but rather a dictatorship from the one in charge spouting lines for effect. This show lacks substance to grip the audience through 45 minutes of lack-luster dialogue. CBS has just been unable to create anything new on a steady basis. They have begun to recycle good shows while talking down to their audience by saying “Here, have another.” Even NBC, who started the concept of recycling good shows with Law and Order has stepped back and sold off some of these shows to other networks. What happened to great programming and creativity…?