Criminal Minds S1-13
It takes a special set of skills to get into the mind of a criminal. And that’s exactly what makes the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit so interesting in action series Criminal Minds.
It’s exactly as gritty and dark as you’d expect from a procedural hunting serial killers. And while there are cast changes (as you’d also expect) over the seasons, the core element keeps you hooked: understanding something that is impossible to understand.
The show creators didn’t just put together a story and hope it works either. They consulted real-life FBI agents to get insight into how they investigate and hunt their perps (called “unsubs”, as in unknown subjects) and why they’re doing what they’re doing. The terminology is accurate too, and the cast was trained in official FBI procedures, including shooting real firearms.
Some of the cases are rooted in real-life crimes, whether it’s the killer targeting homeless people in Season 2, a cannibal in Season 3 or the serial stalker who hunts children in the woods in Season 6.
“I read the pilot and it was a woman locked in a cage,” explains Mandy Patinkin, who plays Senior Supervisory Special Agent Jason Gideon (Mandy is best known as Saul Berenson in Homeland). “I asked myself: you can’t do that every episode! How long would that be interesting? Yet it has remained interesting from day 1.”
Despite finding it fascinating, Mandy left the series at the end of Season 3, saying that content was too dark for him, especially as women and children were frequently the targets. In fact, only Matthew Grey Gubler (boy genius Spencer Reid), AJ Cook (Jennifer Jareau) and Kirsten Vangsness (quirky IT whizz Penelope Garcia) have stayed the course all the way from Season 1 to the present.
Binge the first 13 seasons now – the 15th and final season is due to hit screens in the US in the next year.