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Featured TV on DVD Review: Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior: The DVD Edition

September 4th, 2011

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior: The DVD Edition - Buy from Amazon

Last season I reviewed the fifth season of Criminal Minds, and at the time I was worried about the spin-off, which debuted as a backdoor pilot during that season. At the time, I was worried Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior wouldn't be able to differentiate itself from the crowded field of police procedurals. Now that I've gotten a chance to see the series, were my worries justified? Or does the show have a hook that makes it stand out?

The Show

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior focuses on a rapid response team known as a Red Cell that works within the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, but without the red tape. Leading this particular cell is Samuel Cooper and his team consists of Senior Special Agent Beth Griffith; Special Agents Jonathan "Prophet" Sims, Gina LaSalle, and Mick Rawson, plus he gets technical assistance from Penelope Garcia, who helps maintain the connection to Criminal Minds. Not that that's an issue.

While I was watching the DVD, I was specifically looking for episodes that you couldn't do on Criminal Minds. Suspect Behavior is supposed to focus on cases with a very sensitive time element. For instance, abductions, spree killers, serial killers with a very short cooling off period, and other such cases. However, I really couldn't find one that wouldn't also fit into the previous series. If you were to draw a Venn diagram of the two shows, Suspect Behavior would fit entirely within Criminal Minds. This does have some advantages. If you really like the predecessor, odds are you'll probably like this one. But the odds are just as strong that you are would admit this show is not as good. Like many TV shows, it takes a while for the cast to gel, a while for the writers to get a handle on the characters, etc. And since the original is still on TV and they are still making new episodes, there's little reason to watch the new and inferior show when the old and superior one is still an option.

In short, it's a spin-off that doesn't do enough to stand out from its predecessor and it is completely lost in a sea of similar shows.

The Extras

Extras include the episode Fight from season five of Criminal Minds. I'm glad they included the backdoor pilot for completeness sake, even though most people who are interested in buying this DVD probably have that one as well. The actual series premiere has an audio commentary with the creator, Edward Allen Bernero, and three of the main cast members. The only extras on the second disc are some deleted scenes for one episode and the same is true of disc three. Over on disc four you will find an audio commentary track on what is now the series finale. The longest extra on the DVD is a 19-minute featurette on the creation of Suspect Behavior and its roots. Inside the Red Cell runs close to 15 minutes and details more information on the characters in the show. The Profiler looks at the technical advisor on the show. There is a behind-the-scenes featurette on the series finale. House of Corpses looks at the special effects needed to create body parts. Finally, there are outtakes.

That's not a bad collection of extras. However, the price is about the same as you would expect for a full-season, and this was just a midseason replacement. The price-per-minute is way too high as a result.

The Verdict

I think the flood of police procedurals is coming to an end. Not only has Law & Order been reduced to one series. Two of the three CSI shows were on the bubble last year. And now the Criminal Minds spin-off is canceled after just one season. On the one hand, there is nothing overtly wrong with Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and the DVD has a good collection of extras. On the other hand, it was an unnecessary spin-off and the original is the better show. (Plus it ends in a cliffhanger that we know will never get answered.) If you absolutely can't get enough Criminal Minds then it is worth checking out, but I think a rental will be enough.

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