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Featured TV on DVD Review: Criminal Minds: Season Five

September 5th, 2010

Criminal Minds: Season Five - Buy from Amazon

Long time readers probably know one of my running jokes is making fun of the number of police procedural shows that are on TV. I usually joke that the number is in the hundreds, or millions, but in reality, on just the five major networks (including CW) there are at least 15 police procedural shows that aired last year and that number isn't going down next season. In fact, if you add the courtroom dramas, I think that number reaches 20. Because of this, each individual show has to have something to make it stand out. For Criminal Minds that something is the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, which means they deal with major crimes that require profiling, mostly serial killers, but also serial abduction cases, spree killings, etc. So is this enough to stand out? Or does the show get lost in the crowd?

The Show

The answer is either "Yes, however..." or, "No, but..." depending on your point of view. Yes, serial killers are generally not the focus of most shows; however, they are also not so uncommon that this is a major selling point. Or, no, this show doesn't stand out from the crowd because of its focus, but at least it is a well made example of the genre.

This season starts off where the last season ended, namely with Hotch staring at the end of The Reaper's Gun. The Reaper, a.k.a., George Foyet, is a serial killer the team had been tracking for a while and who decided to make the hunt more personal. And in his attempt to accomplish that, he stabs Hotch a number of times, but in non-life threatening ways, and makes it known that he knows where Hotch's family lives. This forces Hotch's family, specifically his son, into the witness protection program where Hotch won't be able to see him till Foyet is captured. This comes to a head later in the season. In fact, they save it for the show's 100th episode. Unfortunately, the show's gimmick hurts the episode. Showing the events in flashback probably looked good on paper, but I don't think it had the effect they were looking for, at least not with me.

The other big episode of the season is Fight, but not because of how good it is, but because it is the backdoor pilot for Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, a.k.a., Criminal Minds: San Francisco. I don't know how wise it is to have a spin-off, as there are far too many police procedural shows on TV at the moment and Criminal Minds doesn't exactly stand out amongst them. My initial concerns were not lessened after seeing the episode, as it was not one of the best from this season.

On a side note, some of the episodes are getting way out there. Cradle to Grave is about a serial killer that kidnaps women, gets them pregnant, then kills them, while The Uncanny Valley is about someone kidnapping women to turn them into living dolls. They are not bad episodes and include guest shots by Mae Whitman and Jonathan Frakes respectively, but they are a little out there. Potential Shark Jumping moments. Mosley Lane is another highlight episode for a number of reasons, including guest shots by Beth Grant and Bud Cort, but also because of who the director is, Matthew Gray Gubler.

The Extras

Most of the Discs have a short making of featurette about one of the episodes on that disc. Disc three has two featurettes, both for 100, the first showing the 100th episode celebration and the second about The Reaper, who is obviously very important to that episode, and a number of previous episodes. Disc four also has two featurettes about Mosley Lane, which is an important episode this season. Disc five has a featurette on The Fight. Disc six has a couple featurettes, including one on Joe Mantegna's character's backstory. Finally, there are a couple minutes of outtakes and some promos.

Overall, that's not a lot for a concurrent show, and given the high level of direct competition, this really hurts its value.

The Verdict

I am really getting burned out on Police Procedural shows; I need characters that add charm and humor to the mysteries. Criminal Minds doesn't have that to set it apart. Granted, it is a very well made example of the genre and if you are a fan, there are more than enough strong episodes on Season Five that it is worth checking out. There are a number of smaller extras spread throughout the six-disc set, but most are too short to be of consequence, so unless you are a diehard fan, it's likely just worth a rental. It really depends on whether or not you bought the previous season or just rented it.

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