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'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior' Season 1, Episode 1 (Series Premiere) Recap

by Piet Levy, posted Feb 17th 2011 5:30AM
'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behvior' S01/E01['Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior' - 'Two of a Kind']

I like Forest Whitaker, a lot. And I like Janeane Garofalo, a lot. And I admit I like 'Criminal Minds', CBS's highly watched FBI procedural, a lot too (well, sometimes).

But, based on this mindless premiere episode, I don't like 'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,' the new spin-off starring Oscar-winner Whitaker and great comedian/solid actress Garofalo. Well, not so much.

For those who think 'Criminal Minds' is too smart for its own good, what with Dr. Spencer Reid's (Matthew Gray Gubler) weekly intellectualized rants (always good fodder for boring party talk/stumping Watson on 'Jeopardy') and those profound episode-opening quotes from great minds like Mark Twain, Nelson Mandela (and, randomly, comedian Paul Rodriguez last week), 'Suspect Behavior' won't be too perplexing. There doesn't appear to be a true brainiac in this crew of FBI Behavioral Analysts, and the wise words of famous authors and philosophers are nowhere to be found.

But one other thing 'Suspect' didn't have in this first episode that 'Criminal Minds' does have, are interesting characters. Sure, Gubler's Reid isn't that complex, but at least he's interesting. The same applies for Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) and Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson), who may be as serious as a heart attack -- and often times, dry as toast -- but the guy's got gravitas.

No one during the first hour of 'Suspect Behavior' had any personality, except Kirsten Vangsness's Penelope Garcia, but the wacky Web-sleuthing sidekick is a holdover from 'Minds' and not new to this show. Here we have a British agent discernible only by his accent; a woman who was only discernible because she was not Janeane Garofalo; Janeane Garofalo's character, who stood out because her face is recognizable; and a hot-headed ex-con-turned-pending FBI agent, who stood out because the actor playing him (Michael Kelly) didn't look like (or convincingly play) a hot-headed ex-con-turned-pending FBI agent.

Then there was Whitaker, typically an exceptional actor. But, as Special Agent Sam Cooper in 'Suspect Behavior', Whitaker often took ... so much time ... reading his ... lines ... it was as if ... he was ... being paid ... a bonus for ... every ... dramatic ... pause. Whitaker's not going to get the "E" for his "EGOT" anytime soon.

The episode started with some written text (narrated, so no one had to hurt themselves and actually read) indicating that there are special teams within the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Units called "Red Cells." "These non-traditional teams operate outside the bureaucracy," we're told ... meaning Cooper's team, which is one of these red cells, gets to hang out in a bare-looking gym instead of an office. Non-traditional indeed. After the written (and narrated) intro, we were dropped into a seemingly innocent game of hide and seek between a young brother and sister in a nice neighborhood. "This time, you're never going to find me," the girl said in a blatant bit of foreshadowing.

So the cute little girl was kidnapped while her brother wasn't looking, and Cooper's team was about to head to Cleveland to solve the case. But before they do, Cooper had a surprise meeting with an FBI director (Richard Schiff, another fine actor collecting a paycheck here) who warned Cooper about that hot-headed ex-con/pending agent, John "Prophet" Sims. Seems he did time for killing a child molester, and the director is worried he'd do it again.

The team landed in Cleveland to find the cops' investigation was "dead in the water" (of course it was). Garofalo's character, Beth Griffith, met a distraught mother on the crime scene who said that her daughter had also been abducted. Their cases were connected (of course they were). After Cooper's team put together pieces of the puzzle, found the bodies of two of the kidnapper's previous victims, and identified the suspect as a white male whose African-American daughter had been murdered, they tracked down the kidnapper to his grandparent's old home outside of town.

It was Sims -- the hot-headed pending agent, the one the director suspected would kill the suspect -- who came face-to-face with him (of course). Sims swore he wouldn't kill the kidnapper and tried convincing the suspect to turn himself in. But the kidnapper instead killed himself. Oh well. "You did everything that you possibly could do," Cooper told Sims. "Sometimes you can talk a man off a ledge. Sometimes a man's just gotta jump, you know?" No, we didn't know Cooper, and neither did Sims apparently, who just walked away after that puzzling line.

The girls were found safe (of course they were), and pending agent Sims became an agent at the end of the episode. Cue Cooper's warm smile, which suspiciously and inexplicably faded away just before the closing credits. Perhaps it was a subconscious gesture from the actor, an indication that his presence in this poor pilot, just a few short years after winning the Oscar for his breathtaking role in 'The Last King of Scotland,' is nothing to smile about?

So this was a bad start, to be sure. But I suspect 'Suspect Behavior,' given the popularity of 'Criminal Minds,' will find an audience and improve over time. It couldn't get much worse.

What did you think of the spin-off? Will you keep watching, or will you just stick with the original?

'Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior' airs Wednesdays, 10PM ET on CBS.

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Debra Sims Maddux

I would wach suspect behavorial, but not until Jeanane G is Gone

April 18 2011 at 9:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phil Astley

@Robert, in the crossover show certain subtexts indicated in not so many words that the "Brit" is ex-special forces who cannot say whether he was in the Special Forces...that would mean he is ex-SAS which is one of the most feared anti-terrorism units in the world, the absolute elite of the elite. They are sworn into the official secrets act which means 1) they don't talk about the Club and 2) they do not talk about the Club.

I know that the FBI scour colleges all over America for their best and brightest but having an ex-SAS operator bears no resemblance to patriotism...they have a skillset far and away beyond that of any college kid. Typically they are expert engineers, with advanced medical knowledge which far outstrips that of a nurse (not quite a doctor) and they can deal with major trauma as well as helping their team get in with local people, a signaller which is a fancy name for communications specialist and linguist who knows a little more than schoolboy French or German. Typically they are fluent in at least 4 languages.

To say that a "Brit" is not worthy is a little harsh or that they are not entitled tohave the badge because a brat out of Yale might want it is wrong...if the crap hits the fan there is no one else in the world you would rather see than a commando with the famous Knife and Wings insignia.

March 03 2011 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Garafalo hurts the attempt to define an indentity as a watchable TV series. She is so disliked by a majority of the advertising product buying public that if they don't get her off the show it doesn't have a chance.

I do like Forrest Whitaker a lot but he needs to quit acting like the character he is portraying and be more natural or something different than how he is. I can take him and the rest but never Garofalo.

Many of us even complained to the network about Garofalo and said what many of the comments are saying. She is by her actions and words an American hater and they have the gall to have her as a FBI agent? Give Americans some credit and don't insult our intelligence.

She doesn't even look comfortable in the role so get here the heck off the show and find a better less publicly offensive individual. Doesn't have to be a righty because we all know most actors are Democrats. Just get one that is not a far left activist loon..

March 02 2011 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched episodes one and two and I can't seem to get into it. I don't really like the cast of SB but I'm going to keep watching because it may grow on me. I love the original CM because the cast works as a cohesive unit and I know their cases seem very authentic. I let my friends watch the show from my phone so they could form their own opinions about it. I work and subscribe to DISH Network and when I'm at work or out of town, I watch Law and Order: SVU and all of the other Law and Order series using the TV Everywhere function in the DISH Remote Access app. The app is free and it let's you watch live or pre-recorded shows from your DVR on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or any Android supported device. I love it and I am always recommending that people come to DISH Network and I am inviting anyone who comes across this post to explore DISH Network and experience a value unseen by any other TV provider!


February 27 2011 at 12:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I when I saw jeanine garafalo with a FBI uniform it made me sick. She is the most anti-American thing I have ever laid my eyes on. She is despicable over my dead cold body will you find me watching that show. Annie

February 26 2011 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Voice of Truth

I am a big fan of Criminal Minds, but this spinoff was totally bogus. The first scene (set in Cleveland) opens with the kidnapping of the little girl with mountains in the background. Assuredly, there are no mountain ranges in Cleveland. They could have spent a few more dollars and got it right.

February 19 2011 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The episode on CM where Sam Cooper was introduced looked promising but after watching this premier episode I found it disappointing leading into boredom. It turns out to be more Hollywood trash. First off, Janeane Garofalo didnt even play a character, she played herself, a left wing rabble rowser. Second, a British FBI agent, Really! The feds comb the U.S. colleges for the best and the brightest and then they conduct an unbelievable background-a Brit shows no reality here at all. Third off, every crime drama has done the "nobody searches for the black kid but the cavalry comes for white kid" episode. If thats your first episode then your creative talent pool absolutely sucks. Whats next the dream sequence episode or jumping the shark? Why fire AJ Cook from the other CM? You should have brought her to this team and added some depth to the team. Sorry CBS. This show blows. Garcia was the only thing good about it. One other thing, The FBI director meeting the team in a run down warehouse, please stop the pain. The Director of the FBI travels with an entourage at all times.

February 19 2011 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phil Astley

Big1nfla, it is not that I am not giving the show a chance, it just seems to have taken a huge step back, Penelope Garcia was a MASSIVE part of the original team; utterly indispensable to what they did; hacking and getting into closed files and discovering what was really going on and here we are supposed to believe she has been kidnapped by bodysnatchers and replaced with a ramrod infused lump of wood with all the personality of beach Barbie.

Back when the original CM started she was stuck in a computer room as a figure on the screen, she became a central cast member over the years to often take one of the first appearances and even lead the team at meetings and now we are supposed to believe she has been "promoted" to an elite team but has been demoted by being shoved behind a desk and having someone plaster ugly glasses to her face and try to offset that by shoving a ridiculous disproportional flower behind her ear.

At this point I would've expected her maybe not to be running the team but at least be part of it in a much larger way or at least be in the same room as them :( I am very disappointed.

It just seems to me to have been thrown together too fast like shows often are that are proceeded by excellence, the network simply wants to bring in new blood to get more money but has forgotten that what made this show great were the characters that have grown over the years.

I will still watch it when I get a chance but I will not be counting down the days until it is on :)

February 18 2011 at 2:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a feeling this show will be short lived . I'll give it one more chance.... and then maybe not watch it. .Whitaker is a good actor however the role he plays is not suited ...... most of all J. Garafalo is confusing me and I keep being reminded of her "ignorance and liberal attitude" versus the patriot role of law enforcement she plays. Just a complete turn-off, just like when she was in "24".

February 17 2011 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jenna Scott

I actually don't agree. I rather enjoyed the episode & found the characters interesting & they even had some chemistry. The case was pretty intrigueing, love that the girls were found safe, and Simms talking to the guy at the end was pretty intense & despite him still committing suicide he did a darn good job with the talk. & full time agent. Yay! I'm very interested to see how this show will continue on.

February 17 2011 at 6:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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