I'd never seen Criminal Minds before so forgive me if this preview reads a little light. The DVD that CBS sent me is one of the better mixes I've seen so far, especially compared to CSI: Miami. That sound mix was just awful, effects and music were too loud while the dialog was way too low to understand what most people were saying. It was so unwatchable that I'm shocked that CBS would send out send a piece of crap for one of their biggest series. Temporary mixes are one thing, but an unwatchable screener for a show that gets 16 million viewers is beyond shooting yourself in the foot well into shooting yourself in the face territory.
But that's besides the point.
If the quality of the fourth season premier which hits the airwaves tonight at 9am is any indication, I made a mistake not checking out this show earlier. If you've already seen it, you're most likely in for more of what you already like. Criminal Minds apparently ended on a cliffhanger back in May with the usual false jeopardy cheat that most dramas use to spice up the year-end ratings without putting any popular cast members in a non-fictional bind. You can pretty much bet that anyone who appears to be dead isn't, because even characters that die find ways of coming back to life. The Sarah Tancredi character was literally beheaded in the third season of Prison Break but returned as a regular this year and it wasn't even that much of a stretch to accept.
I will ease your mind somewhat by saying that this isn't a two-part premier and what was begun last season appears to be at least somewhat wrapped up by the end of this episode. It's hard for me to say when I didn't see the setup, but I only had a few questions and none of them got in the way of enjoying the premier. That's a real treat, for a show heading into its fourth season, it was remarkably friendly to new, casual viewers. On the other hand, I could easily see this specific story playing out across an entire season if they really wanted to mine it for all it was worth.
Not being a serial drama, that really isn't on the table, and that's a shame and a waste of talent if you ask me. This procedural drama at 12-14 million viewers I think could hold 14-16 with more serial elements, but it's a hard decision to go mucking about with something that is clearly working as-is.
I can't say much more without spoiling the premier since that's really all I've ever seen of the series, but if it makes any difference, I'll probably be watching Criminal Minds for the rest of this season. If you're looking for another procedural criminal drama, you can't do much better than this. The writing is solid without many plot problems and the dialog is very smooth, though maybe a little too crowded in the premier. One scene where some of the main cast get together to break "the big mystery" flew by too fast and was too convenient. That's my only real gripe here, they spent the entire episode back on their heels without a clue what was going on but then in a single huddle, figured it all out in about a minute and a half.
You probably could have condensed the episode down to ten minutes because of it.
But otherwise I thought it went very well on all fronts.
Criminal Minds airs Wednesday nights at 9PM on CBS.