Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior Review: Where It Went Wrong...

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This week’s poetically titled episode brought Criminal Mind: Suspect Behavior to a close. A season of ups and downs that have felt like a "Death by a Thousand Cuts."

I will not be kind about the fact that it committed the unforgivable sin of ending on a cliff hanger, where we will forever wonder if Cooper shot Stahl or if Rawlins shot Griffith. If you have not seen me mention it before, I loathe cliff-hanger endings and find them to be the equivalent of taking your cousin to the prom so you don’t have to take any chances.

Sure, a cliff-hanger was useful before there were things like the internet or DVRs; back when a show ran 22 weeks in the fall and then spent all summer in re-runs. These days they are about as useless as that pen Penelope Garcia holds in her hand while pantomiming that she is typing on a keyboard, (seriously, no computer geek I know needs to hold a pen that often.)

The only thing that impressed me about this episode was French Stewart’s portrayal of Richard Stahl. He was scary at the beginning and made you feel for him at the end. Awesome work, Mr. Stewart, I am humbled by your ability to do drama and comedy.

Past that, this episode was pretty much your standard offering: big crime happened, team came in and found key clue, figured out who bad guy was and went to stop them. Don’t get me wrong, it was passably entertaining (up until the cliff-hanger.) But it just didn’t have that spark that Criminal Minds possesses.

As a spin-off show from long term series, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior was considered a sure thing with a built in audiences. Why shouldn’t it be a hit? Look at the track record of spin-offs: CSI has spawned two shows, NCIS spawned one offspring, and there have been more Law & Order shows than I can keep track of.

So why did Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior end up being the exception to the rule and failing, when it should have printing its own money given the head start it had?

The answer is three words: No character attachment. Here is why that was a problem...

Introduction:
The first (and biggest) mistake was not introducing the team in the pilot. I understand the writers were banking on the lead in episode where we met some of the team in Criminal Minds; but that episode aired nine months before the pilot! Not to mention we gained a team member (Beth), which was never explained at all.

Identification:
The mistakes continued with the writers not having characters use each other’s name. There were scenes in the first couple of episodes where the editing had cut scenes in such a way that we came into conversations already in progress, skipping over any type of greeting that would have included names. It took me weeks to know who was who without the internet.

Personalization:
We didn't get much (if any) in the way of back story on any of team members for nearly half the season. This was partially negated because it did eventually come, but this mistake cut the deepest wound as viewers don’t return week after week when you don’t care about the characters in a show.

Uniqueness:
One thing that makes any show stand out is the uniqueness of its characters compared to other programs in the same genre. Why would someone watch NCIS instead of CSI? It could be because they like Gibbs more than Grissom or Abby more than Hodges. 

It looks like someone decided they wanted a character just like Penelope Garcia for the Red Cell team and instead of creating a unique character, they opted to have Kirsten Vangsness play the same role on both shows. While the idea on paper may look good, in the end it didn't really work and just got confusing as her hair was blonde in one show and red in the other.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I know that the bones of a great show were there. We even got a glimpse of it in a few episodes, (as mentioned in a few of my reviews.) It was just a little too late and had no consistency.

Red Cell Members
So, how would I have changed things?

First, for the pilot I would have tied the story plot into Prophet’s “temp agent” status so that we learned what he was accused of and why he was no longer accused of it. As the center point I would have had Prophet interact with each team member to introduce each of their unique personality and “powers” (what they bring to the team.) And I would make damn sure that each character’s name was spoken at least three times each in the first few episodes.

Second, if the powers that be really wanted a “Penelope Garcia” type as the computer whiz, I would have had her guest star and have her training her counterpart for the red cell team, who could be just as quick witted and sassy as she is. However, I would have given her a different geeky persona; I really like the idea of the “new Garcia” being obsessed with pink and black and Sanrio characters.

Lastly, I would even out the show's production. I am not sure if the inconsistencies were from writing, directing, or producing, but there was clearly a breakdown in communication as one episode would use a trope effectively and the next would butcher it all the hell.

I think with just a few key adjustments Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior could have given Hotchner and his Criminal Minds team a run for their money.

Finally, to show the difference and how it should be done. I want to compare the pilot of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior to the pilot of Hawaii Five-0, as I reviewed both.

Before the H5O pilot episode was over we met and knew who Steve McGarrett was, who Danny Williams was, why Danny wore a tie, who Chin Ho and Kona were, why the team is put together, and we even learned why Danny gets called "Danno".

After watching the CM: SB pilot I was struggling just to know who anyone was, much less why Cooper wore a cross hanging from his belt, why Beth had joined the team, what in bloody hell Prophet did to go to jail, what changed that he was now out and an FBI agent again, and oh, who is the blonde chick or the guy with the Irish accent?

I am hopeful that this one failure does not cause CBS to shy away from attempting more spin-offs. I would love to see CSI: Dallas or CSI: New Orleans. But if nothing else we at least have Criminal Minds returning in the fall with J.J. coming back full time! See you all then!

What did you think? Do you think the show doomed itself from the beginning or was CBS too hard on it? Sound off below!

Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (308 Votes)

Jim G. is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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I agree the cliff hanger is RIDICULOUS.
I'm disappointed there's no season 2 because I loved the show! Cooper made the team! Brilliant acting on his part!
I loved Mick too though (who is WELSH! Not Irish. Matt Ryan was born in Swansea!) I just really want to know if Beth died!

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Come on! I just watched the first season on Netflix and LOVED IT!
I want them to bring it back! I thought the characters were great!

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The time slot was the problem with me. Call me old but I am in bed by then and got to see it during the original airing. I just got to see it on Netflix and loved it. I was hooked from the second episode. The aforementioned problem in character development did not bother me so much but I did understand their point. I would really I like to see them give this another chance.

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I was unfortunately guilty of thinking 'Suspect Behaviour will not be all that good'. I am happy to say I was wrong, and just started getting into the series recently, only to realise it had been discontinued! I especially loved Mick Rawley, though I think that may be more to my fascination with accents. I'm glad I wasn't the only one to pick up on these points, and I agree with your ideas completely. With but a few arguably minor tweaks this could have been an incredible series.

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I'm in the UK and only recently caught onto this show as they have just started advertising season 1 here. I couldnt wait so cheated and watched it online. I loved the show and watched the entire 1st season. However I do feel like we are being ripped off here in the UK. They are due to air this show knowing it ends on a cliffhanger which will not be resolved since there is to be no season 2???? This has happened to me a few times now so in future I'll be looking into the american seasons before I start to watch a show. Mega disappointment....... Shame on the execs deciding to air this knowing fans will be disappointed

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Love the show, wish it was still on. bring it back and do flash backs to introduce and explain everyone's characters.

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They need to put that show back on! I just saw it on Netflix, Who Ends A Show Like That? PLEASE MAKE MORE SEASONS!!!

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I think the show was just okay not that great and i felt Whitakers character was only decent (besides penelope character!) I would suggest however they add Whitaker to the original (Quanico) team (cast) I think his character would be a great addition to Hotches team!

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Saw it on netflix...i totally agree with ur review...i wanted to know the breakdown of why cooper has to paint to process...in one show he eas on the stand and i believe he has had some sort of mental breakdown...idk...it could have been a great show if there was a little more depth

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at first i didn't think i would like this. then i got hooked. only to be totally disappointed in the cliffhanger. i wish they would have brought it back for a good finish to the show.

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior Season 1 Episode 13 Quotes

He is a puppet; there has to be a master.

Lasalle

I know what love is, nobility, and integrity. You want to test someone? To see how far they will go. Then shoot me!

Griffith
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