Sunday, November 23, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 - 1008. The Boys of Sudworth Place - Review

THE PLOT

First of all, I must admit to an odd circumstance in viewing this episode: normally, I watch from 9:00 PM ET onward. Due to my schedule, I was only able to start watching (the first time) about midway through the episode, when Morgan Looks Pensive. (Okay, it wasn't the scene below, but you get my meaning.)


As someone who assiduously avoids spoilers of any form WHATSOEVER prior to an episode (yes, I am one of THOSE people), I am not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing that I was instantly able to determine the entire plot of the episode at a glance: "Morgan is Thinking Deep Thoughts. This must be an episode that NAMBLA would like."

So when I watched the entire 10x08 episode through for the first time, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. (Plus, WHY oh WHY is the BAU investigating the abduction of single defense attorney? Not a federal prosecutor or a child, but a private individual -- an adult, whose spouse had not received any ransom demands. Thanks for not explaining that in a deftly inserted comment, @iKimHarrison.)

GUEST CAST

Veteran actor Jeffrey Nordling as prosecutor-turned-defense-attorney Jack Westbrook was excellent as the manipulative pedophile (yeah, manipulative is a redundant adjective, I know, but really, really deserved here). Possibly because he is the "victim" here -- and so his character is given much more screen time -- or possibly just because he is just that much better an actor, I found Westbrook to be much more engrossing than any of the three younger victims-turned-UnSubs. (It's not a good sign that I care more about their childhood photo than their adult selves.) This verges dangerously close to violating Classic Hotch's mantra about glorifying the perpetrator over his victims, but perhaps Kim Harrison was trying to show how the lines become impossibly blurred when victims of abuse turn to violence.


S10 CAST ADDITIONS

Finally, my turn to weigh in on the addition of Jennifer Love Hewitt.

I've given up trying to fathom the workings of EP Erica Messer's mind, but I am glad to see that the writers are at least trying to flesh out Kate Callahan. Her character entertained me in the season premiere (and I look forward to more Garcia-Callahan bonding). I've also been impressed by JLH's ability to change genres. However, I am just not sure this is the right fit for either the actor or the show. (See: Showrunner Erica Messer Bewilders Me, above.) And her awkward "I love you" while on the phone to her niece Meg at the end of this episode -- what was up with THAT? It had all the conviction of a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend who hasn't summoned up the courage to break up with his partner yet!

Sidenote: To me, adding a teenager to a long-running series is never a good thing. Never. You might as well have Evil Knievel show up and tell The Fonz it's time to jump that shark. Remember Dawn on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER? Well, I try not to. (Trivia note: Michelle Trachtenberg also played a pivotal role in the heartrending 8x12 ZUGZWANG and acquitted herself admirably. I would NOT mess with Diane Turner!)

CINEMATOGRAPHY

What the heck is up with the eternally dim lighting on the show? I get that bad things happen at night and in abandoned warehouses, but evil can also occur in broad daylight! Or at least light the damn sets better: I do not have a private, windowless screening room (or blackout shades in my living room) to enable me to see what's going on, so I just throw my hands up in the air in aggravation.
Lifestyles are changing: people watch shows when they can (hello? L+3? L+7?) and not only as it airs in primetime. If even the antiquated Nielsen ratings system can reflect that, then perhaps the people behind Criminal Minds need to take it into account as well.

Note from CMRT Caps-Catcher: this 4 images are unedited beyond the addition of the frame and watermark

THE UPSHOT

Criminal Minds is no longer appointment viewing for me. In fact, I am seriously starting to dread watching the show. With wildly inconsistent quality this early in SeasonX, (10x03 A THOUSAND SUNS was truly amazing! I developed a whole new level of respect for Sharon Lee Watson and magic man/production manager Harry Bring, a\k\a @LLPOS. 10x04 THE ITCH was just a gross out, without the depth I'd come to expect from Breen Frazier.) I can't even begin to imagine what things will be like by 10x18 or so, when the writers have been at it for months on end.

Sadly, I must conclude that Criminal Minds is showing its age. Procedurals -- which I love, and watch whenever I can -- are tough to keep fresh, especially after more than 200 episodes, but no amount of Febreze is going to help SeasonX, I fear. Please, Criminal Minds, prove me wrong.

Sincerely,
~~~~Chaucer (who owns CM S1-S7, and dons non-FBI Kevlar in advance of comments)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 - 1010. Amelia Porter - Press Release

THE SEARCH FOR AN UNSUB RELATED TO A TRIPLE HOMICIDE IN SALT LAKE CITY COULD LEAD THE BAU TO A FUGITIVE FROM YEARS AGO, ON “CRIMINAL MINDS,” WEDNESDAY, DEC. 10

“Amelia Porter” – When the BAU is called to Salt Lake City Utah to investigate a triple homicide, the search for a connection among the victims could lead them to a fugitive who could have ties to the UnSub, on CRIMINAL MINDS, Wednesday, Dec. 10 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

CHEAT TWEET: Could a triple murder in Salt Lake City lead the BAU 2 a fugitive killer? @CrimMinds_CBS #CBS 12/10, 9pm http://bit.ly/1vtZjkY

REGULAR CAST: 
Joe Mantegna (David Rossi)
Thomas Gibson (Aaron Hotchner)
Shemar Moore (Derek Morgan)
Matthew Gray Gubler (Dr. Spencer Reid)
A.J. Cook (Jennifer “JJ” Jareau)
Kirsten Vangsness (Penelope Garcia)
Jennifer Love Hewitt (Kate Callahan)

GUEST CAST:
Travis Caldwell (Benton Farland)
Mary Mouser (Rebecca Farland)
Kasey Campbell (Andy Farland)
Andy Gala (Detective Ravi Shah)
Joseph Whipp (Oren Farland)
Monica Lawson (State Trooper)
Craig Ahrens (Male Hiker)
Elise Robertson (Female Hiker)
Avery Clyde (Amelia Porter)
Michelle Azar (Celine Destin)
Nikki Deloach (Audrey Hansen)

WRITTEN BY: Sharon Lee Watson
DIRECTED BY: Alrick Riley

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 - BTS: 1013. Nelson's Sparrow

This post may contain spoilers, probably small, but they may be big too; proceed with caution!
This post will be updated when more images of our dear gang are shared from the set.




I am co-writing episode 13 on this season (that @BenSavage will be in!) with my boss lady & here is us in action...
- Photo by Kirsten Vangsness
Back to work. Scouting 10-13 with Glenn Kershaw directing. Nature is wonderful. So is Southern California.
- Photo by Harry Bring
Photo by Kirsten Vangsness
Love in an Elevator. #piecestothepuzzle #CriminalMinds #rocknroll
- Photo by CM_SetReport
WE WILL ROCK YOU. #piecestothepuzzle #CriminalMinds #rocknroll
- Photo by CM_SetReport
Stairway to Heaven... #piecestothepuzzle #CriminalMinds #rocknroll
- Photo by CM_SetReport
@Vangsness and Ms Messer just wrote the most incredible episode. So proud! You guys are in for a treat.
- Photo by AJ Cook
Don't be decieved by the cuteness, they just wrote the spookiest #CriminalMinds yet. @Vangsness
- Photo by CM_SetReport
Day 1 @CM_SetReport Fabu script written by @EricaMesser @Vangsness - Photo by Pam Leonte
Fun start to the day in the 100 acre woods. [1/2] - Photo by John Hatchitt
Fun start to the day in the 100 acre woods. [2/2] - Photo by John Hatchitt 
From Rosanne Rosannadanna to Evidence agent in 21 minutes courtesy of the one and only Jerilynn. #CriminalMinds - Photo by Gina Garcia Sharp
Being interviewed by Zeca Camargo for Brazillian TV outside our BAU Jet set.
- Photo by Ian Woolf
video
Cake props. Do not eat. #rubbercakes #criminalminds. - Photo by Dylan Hay-Chapman
Play Time !!! - Photo by John Hatchitt
Cold but happy. @shemarmoore @CM_SetReport - Photo by Kirsten Vangsness
This mask is EVERYTHING. - Photo by AJ Cook

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

CRIMINAL MINDS Season 10 - 1007. Hashtag - Review

The episode opened up with "Christmas music and atmosphere at a mall", my first reaction was "what the heck, it's not even Thanksgiving yet!". But then I remembered cringing in my local mall seeing Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations all displayed together in September. So the fact is that this happens on TV too more often than not isn't surprising. Kudo's to Rick for inserting that little piece of seasonal creepiness.

On to the show. In the mall we meet every cliché of a Social Media teenage poster imaginable in Tara and her BFF Riley. Am I the only one who thought that the scenes were designed to be over the top to illustrate the absurdity of fanatical Social Media worship? Because if that wasn't the case it sure made me feel that way. The outcast young man who hung on Tara's every post and blog was also so stereotypical of the nerdy kid in everyone H.S... but was very well played by Paul McKinney. Tara Harris comes off as everyone definition of a "mean girl". I didn't mind the overabundance of the teen favorites, from Social Media to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all which worked well to capture the look and feel of today's teenagers. Rick seems to have a good understanding for who, what and how teenagers act and react.

We cut to the hospital where Derek's girlfriend Savannah is working. I can't put my finger on it, but sadly these two on screen together just don't seem to fit. Rochelle Aytes isn't a bad actress but I don't feel she really has much chemistry with Shemar. That said, seeing the anxiety surrounding the couple due to an upcoming planned vacation was somewhat heart breaking. Both have very demanding jobs yet Savannah seems to key in more on Derek's job being to blame if they didn't get to go on the vacation. I was talking to my TV by this point saying “Come on Savannah, like you wouldn't be all 'gotta go' if an ER emergency came up and you were called. Takes to tango darling.”

Moving onto Tara in her bedroom, again so clichéd but so perfectly spot on. I liked how even though we see the Unsub we don't know who he or she is as the figure is covered. Tara's death seemed to scream "vanity gets you nowhere".

I must say the scene in the BAU roundtable room was exceptionally well done. The fact that this was a local case made it more interesting for me also. Each member contributed to the processing of early information and I was happy to see all the team members participating. I loved the real life scenes from outside Quantico VA doing something like that at times makes me at least remember that while Criminal Minds is a TV show, it is based on a very really group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to stopping killers like these.

I'm going to insert here, and this comment encompasses all of the episodes so far: Kate Callahan is a good character, I like her. What I don't like is the constant snide sarcastic comments that are written for her. At times they're used when it feels inappropriate.

When Garcia notifies Hotch that the media has gotten a hold of the story, giving the killer a kitschy name and everything, Hotch says that they need to contain the media. I know JJ was made a profiler but "media" is, or was her specialty, so why not use her where her best talents lie? To me this was a missed opportunity to pay homage to the career that brought her to the FBI and the BAU to begin with. This fact becomes glaringly obvious towards the end of the episode.

As the team separates to begin their investigation we see Morgan and Reid driving up and I love how they say "no comment" virtually simultaneously. I like how Morgan and Reid work together at the crime scene, they have a great chemistry. I do like Rossi and Callahan together at the M.E.'s office, two sarcastic alpha personalities in the same room "Oy Vey!".

I loved Hotch interrogating Charles Lorne, he just seems to know how to get witnesses and/or potential criminals to open up, and is fun to watch. Also, his blank expression, no matter what the revelation is funny; I was cracking up over the "Trixie, my Chihuahua" comment and Hotch didn't even blink. Great acting by Thomas.

Seeing JJ back in a skirt talking to Tara's BFF Riley made me appreciate her a little more. It was shades of JJ past and I loved it. Riley seemed genuinely upset and concerned over his friend. Playing as if he wasn't just like Tara until Garcia busted him was touchingly cute. Garcia was great in this scene.

I was a bit confused as to how the whole Mirror Man story came to be and how it applied to Tara's death in the first place. Nor did I understand why the buffed out gorgeous dude was killed. Was is simply because he had some connection to Tara? There were a few areas where I did get confused. But I thought it was brilliant working the title of the episode into the killing of the beefcake with the nail gun "hashtag" symbol. At this point the show is going a little slow for my tastes but overall story was very interesting and I did enjoy the mix of team members at the crime scenes. The team giving the profile was well done and employed a good amount of all the team. And their explanation regarding the whole Mirror Man symbolism and meaning lit more than a few light bulbs off in my head.

One bulb that went off was when I realized the kid taunting the so called Mirror Man in his video was also one of the three guys who were talking about beefcake before he was killed. His death was particularly gruesome and the actor did a wonderful job of showing that fear as his life was about to end. Good casting can certainly make or break an episode, and this time it makes the episode for me.

I really liked the interaction between Morgan and Garcia. It's scenes like this that made me fall in love with their friendship to begin with. They work so well, and the way they worked off the profile to narrow down the list of potential unsubs was shades of Criminal Minds past. Great job in the writing here.

I really liked that they used Reid at crime scenes. Was very nice seeing Reid formulate and hypothesize what happened again. Hotch realizing that the unsub was a teenager was good. And Garcia finding out about Connor Holt was very well done. I liked JJ and Kate going to Connor's house and the profiling that JJ did in his room. Loved how Derek worked Connor to determine that Connor was innocent of the murders and his friend was actually responsible. Great misdirection regarding unsubs throughout the episode and I enjoyed those twists and turns.

The final take down of the unsub was a bit disappointing to me. First off again it was JJ/Morgan with Kate. Secondly had they used JJ to handle the media from the get go, would we have had a news truck pulling up to watch Derek shot the kids to save the hostages life? All in all, that final take down was rather flat and bland. I do get why JJ went to the hospital as did Derek and why she was the logical choice to be there for a distraught Derek; they have a long standing working relationship, which if it was Kate would have felt out of place. Calling Savannah at the hospital was a nice touch to show how their jobs sometimes do overlap. And Hotch coming to talk to Derek about his guilt for shooting a kid was spot on. Telling Derek he didn't shoot a child, he shoot a serial killer, brought home the fact that killers and criminals come in all sorts of packages.

Finally we had the Derek and Savannah scene. I'm torn about this. In one way it is nice to see Derek maturing, accepting that maybe there is more to life than being a player, and I loved how it showed that even with the best of intentions both their jobs were very important to them. The problem I have with Derek and Savannah is that, on screen, I just can't see or feel a chemistry between the characters or the actors.

Over all the episode was well written, thoughtfully directed and had an intriguing case. While the episode did have some road bumps I liked it, and give is a solid 8 out of 10. Well Done!

~~~~Mordred