Friday, September 19, 2008

If it's so lame then why can't I stop watching it?

Several things that really bug me about the TV series Criminal Minds:
  1. The way they solve cases too quickly, almost abruptly. At least the guys on the CSI shows go through the motions of dusting for prints, testing for blood, and running lab tests. The BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) of the FBI makes it look all too simplistic: profiling serial killers and psychos easy as anything, then apprehending the nutjobs based on the astoundingly accurate profiles. Who needs a crime lab when you can get into the heads of murdering lunatics and predict their next move?
  2. The pathological need to explain everything in excruciating detail, and with illustrative examples to boot. This is a show that presumes its audience isn't as smart as it is, and thus feels obliged to break it all down into bite-sized pieces lest we ignoramuses fail to digest what we're being fed.
  3. How they throw around psychobabble and profiling terms to make them sound more credible (and cool), like "unsub" (unidentified subject), "stressor", "victimology", etc. It just ends up sounding phony.
  4. The lack of chemistry among the members of the BAU, save between resident ladies' man Agent Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) and tech geek Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness, who provides what little comic relief can be expected from a program about serial killers).
  5. Agent Jason Gideon's uncanny-- and unbelievable-- powers of perception. It's like the guy can read minds or something. I loved Mandy Patinkin in the long-defunct Chicago Hope and I adored him in the cult classic The Princess Bride, but this character of his just doesn't do it for me.
  6. The superfluity of Agent Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner (Thomas Gibson). Can anyone explain to me what he contributes to the team aside from giving them their assignments? He's like Bosley from Charlie's Angels, only Bosley didn't have the personality of a piece of cardboard.
  7. Elle's handbag. In one episode, Agent Elle Greenaway (Lola Glaudini) processes a crime scene carrying a small purse. One, what self-respecting FBI agent carries a purse on the job, and two, what self-respecting FBI agent uses a purse that small??
  8. Elle. I can't stand her. She tries too hard to be taken seriously, which makes me not take her seriously at all. She reminds me of the unlovable Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox) from CSI.
  9. The vapid blonde who acts as BAU media liaison. Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (AJ Cook) looks more like a college cheerleader than an FBI agent. She doesn't really bring anything to the show either: she's not a profiler so she doesn't contribute input, she's not quirky like Garcia or chock-full of nuggets of helpful information like Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), she's not an alpha female and she's so blah she's not even hot enough to serve as eye candy.
  10. Dr. Spencer Reid's hair. Dude. I know you're supposed to be a dorky boy genius and all, but even dorks should have a decent barber.
But the thing that drives me up the wall the most are the goddamn quotes at the beginning and/or end of each episode, intoned by Gideon most of the time, or sometimes by Hotch or Reid. I actually love quotes, but Criminal Minds is progressively turning me off them (now I can't hear Nietzsche's name without snorting in derision because he's quoted by the show so often). The quotes are pretentious, and for lack of a more apt English adjective, pilit. They're a too transparent attempt to give the show a semblance of profundity or meaning... a profundity or meaning it doesn't really have.

Criminal Minds is like that annoying know-it-all classmate you had in high school, who kept throwing around big words to impress people but only got mocked by the other kids. As far as crime shows go, it's second-rate and can't hold a candle to the CSI or Law and Order franchises, or the underappreciated Without a Trace. But what's disturbing is that in spite of everything that irritates me about this series, after one season, I went and continued watching the second season. Is it shades of masochism, a regressing IQ, or the beginning of an unhealthy addiction? I'd need the BAU to psychoanalyze me and tell me I'm crazy.

"It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them." -Friedrich Nietzsche


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