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Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Episode 1 - "Two Of A Kind" (Review)

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior poster

Written by : published Tuesday 22nd February 2011

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Watch Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior - “Two Of A Kind” Now.

 Throughout the elongated and perfidious career of television programming, there is perhaps no greater and more fearful villain than that of the spin-off: the scoundrelly bastard step-sibling of a popular series that tries to pass itself off as being just as good (if not better) than its more-recognized counterpart. Sometimes, they simply appear out of nowhere and introduce themselves like Michelle Trachtenberg’s character did in Season Five of Buffy The Vampire Slayer -- much to the dismay of many. Other times, though, these dastardly spin-offs that infiltrate our airwaves on a seasonal basis are introduced via some extra-special episode (often a two-parter) of their better-known sibling’s show. These “backdoor pilots” (__enter_TSA_joke_here__) are produced with the option of becoming full-fledged standalone series.

One classic instance of a backdoor pilot emerging from its sibling’s shadow and maturing into its own sense of network adulthood would be that of CSI: Miami -- an intellectually-degrading series wherein creepy star David Caruso leers at people every ten minutes, and takes his sunglasses on and off every two. NCIS: Los Angeles is another great example. It’s a rather tepid series; one which completely failed to spark any interest within my soul when I first dropped my jaw to its horrendously hilarious chronicles. Perhaps it was the epically-awful casting of such veteran and ratings-worthy professionals as Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J in the leads that swayed my concentration…to say nothing of Mr. J’s epic reading of the line “Yeah, I need an ambu-lance!” at the end of the show’s backdoor pilot during the Sixth Season of the original NCIS.

Oh, come on people; it’s funny! Stop being so serious, dammit.

So, anyhoo, back to the subject of spin-offs. Sure, we get treated to the occasional good spin-off one on the air, assembled by some of the finest men and women that the wonderful world of television has to offer us. But, more times than naught, we get an offshoot that appears to have been comprised and assembled by casts and crews so frighteningly inept, they could make the ill-fated Broadway production of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark look like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s personal ATM machine The Phantom Of The Opera by comparison. A recent example of a scoundrelly bastard step-sibling that should have been aborted long before it was even conceived is the new CBS crime drama, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior -- itself the product of a backdoor pilot romance.

No doubt culled from rejected story ideas from the two-dozen other shows of a suspiciously similar nature, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior’s debut (standalone) episode, “Two Of A Kind,” premiered on CBS February 16, 2011. For those of you who saw the backdoor pilot on the original Criminal Minds (Episode 18: “The Fight”) during its Fifth Season, you’ll be familiar with some of these new characters. The rest of you, however, may find yourselves a bit puzzled as to why you’re supposed to care about these far-from-lovable characters when you’ve had no proper introduction to them in this pilot episode. Take, for example, the end of “Two Of A Kind,” when one of our characters (the really far-from-likeable one at that) gets promoted. We’re supposed to feel joy. We’re supposed to feel happiness. Hell, we’re supposed to feel…period! Alas, we experience no sort of sentiment at all -- with the exception of contempt, that is.

Yup, this is Forest Whitaker's poker face, ladies and gentlemen. “Two Of A Kind” begins with an eight-year-old white girl being whisked away by a mysterious man in an old light blue van. Shortly thereafter, the Red Cell team led by Special Agent Sam Cooper (Forest Whitaker, looking like he just got back from a week-long bender) is brought in at the behest of the Cell’s director -- played by here by the one and only Richard Schiff (who looks as out of place as a lemur in a nativity play). Cooper’s regular team (which consists of Jeneane Garofalo, Michael Kelly as the asshole guy, Beau Garrett as the token “sexy” blonde chick, and Matt Ryan as the token British bloke -- most of whom you may have already met in “The Fight”) gets right into the heart of the abduction, with the assistance of Criminal Minds regular Kirsten Vangsness.

While the “perp” (or “unsub,” if you’re a veteran Criminal Minds viewer) in this case actually doesn’t turn out to be the murderous child molester we initially perceive him to be, it doesn’t make “Two Of A Kind” any easier to swallow. A lot of the acting is phoned in by the series’ leads while some other performers seem to be confusing “emote” with “ham” (not a good way to start out your premiere episode, people!), the writing is sub-par at best (even my children were insulted), and our characters are about as shallow and stagnant as a puddle of oily water in a supermarket parking lot (even Kirsten Vangsness’ character of Penelope Garcia from the primary Criminal Minds series doesn’t have very much depth here).

The end result: any authority the show is intended to have on its audience is nowhere to be found, and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior first official episode -- “Two Of A Kind” -- has absolutely no love goin’ for it whatsoever.

A CBS Network Executive screens "Two Of A Kind" to its target audience -- and doesn't quite get the reaction he was hoping for. Perhaps they should bring ex-recurring Criminal Minds guest star Nicholas Brendon onto this show to give it some personality? Come to think of it, his former Buffy The Vampire Slayer co-star Michelle Trachtenberg might not be a bad pick, either. She could just show up and say “Hey, I’m your sister” to Beau Garrett and completely bog down the course of Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior from there on in.

Not that this show needs any additional bogging down, but it could definitely use something.

About the author Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of Adam Becvar, a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. You can stalk and annoy Luigi via blogcritics and Insomniac Entertainment and those trendy social sites, Twitter and Facebook.

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