Criminal Minds: Season 3
Directed by Edward Allen Bernero et al
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 860 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, 2.0 surround English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 64.99
Release Date: September 16, 2008
Review Date: September 16, 2008
With the defection of actor Mandy Patinkin from the cast of CBS’ Criminal Minds during the summer of 2007, the network was forced to find a replacement. Not that the remaining team couldn’t have carried on without a seventh member, but the suits at the Eye Network obviously felt the team needed a more experienced voice. So, six episodes into the new season, a new agent was in place. And how lucky for the network that the solid, reliable Joe Montegna was tapped to play one of the originators of the Behavioral Analysis Unit, David Rossi.
As in the previous two seasons, the BAU concentrates on the most serious of crimes, often involving serial killers. The perpetrators in this series are lethally venal in nature, and to its credit, the series writers don’t shy away from plucking killers from all walks of life, all ages, and, obviously, both sexes. Apart from new/old agent Rossi, the team remains the same from the previous season: the unit is now headed by Aaron Hotchner (Thomas Gibson). Also in on the analyses of the “un-subs” (unidentified subjects) are team muscle Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), genius in residence Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), department liaison J. J. Jareau (A. J. Cook)., sex crimes expert Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) and computer expert Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness). The first two episodes of the season capped the career of Patinkin’s Jason Gideon, and by episode six, agent David Rossi was in place. Thus, the momentum of the show was undisturbed by this switch in actors.
The show’s writers also vary the nature of each show’s investigations. In most of this season‘s shows, the Columbo model was followed: we‘re shown the perpetrator and wait to see the team track him down methodically (sometimes accomplishing the identifying through what appears to be rather large leaps in logic.) My favorite episodes, however, are those featuring a standard mystery where the team discovers clues, narrows down the list of suspects, and arrives at the killer’s identity by the end of the show. (Almost all episodes are closed-ended and don’t necessarily have to be viewed in order. The non-serialized nature of the episodes makes it very easy to come and go with one’s viewing without having to remember a season-long story arc.) Once in awhile, a team member gets himself embroiled personally in a case either as a victim or as a suspect (Rossi solving a twenty year old murder case that haunts him is a good example), and occasionally, plots involving the agents from one episode resonate several episodes later.
The stories are undoubtedly rather grim and grisly, and the show is definitely adult in nature. The series finds whatever lightness it possesses most often from computer expert Garcia’s innuendo-filled communications with the team while they’re out in the field, and they‘re most welcome (though Garcia was involved in a rather riveting two episode story arc in which she was shot and left for dead while the team tracks her assailant). The show’s popularity means it can recruit some really sterling guest stars who often play the most reprehensible of killers. Among the outstanding guest actors turning in first-rate work this season are Eddie Cibrian, Michael O’Keefe, William Lee Scott, Bailey Chase, Frankie Muniz, Fredric Lane, Dennis Christopher, and Jamie Kennedy.
Here’s the lineup for the season’s twenty episodes contained on five discs.
1 - Doubt
2 - In Name and Blood
3 - Scared to Death
4 - Children of the Dark
5 - Seven Seconds (my favorite episode of the season)
6 - About Face
7 - Identity
8 - Lucky
9 - Penelope
10 - True Night (a fascinating graphics novel-styled episode)
11 - Birthright
12 - 3rd Life
13 - Limelight
14 - Damaged
15 - A Higher Power
16 - Elephant’s Memory
17 - In Heat
18 - The Crossing
19 - Tabula Rasa
20 - Lo-Fi
The show is broadcast on CBS in 1080i, and these 480p 1.78:1 down converted transfers look about as good as it’s possible for standard definition to look. True, there is occasional softness in some shots, and moiré can rear its momentarily ugly head sometimes, but color saturation is very satisfying, and flesh tones are excellently represented. Each episode has been divided into 6 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix seems identical to that of the network broadcasts. The series uses its surrounds quite intelligently, and there’s ample use of low bass as well especially in times of great suspense. This is one of the best audio tracks of any of the Paramount box sets I’ve reviewed this month. (Ghost Whisperer is the only one thus far which supersedes it.)
All of the bonus features in the set are presented in anamorphic widescreen apart from the trailers.
6 deleted scenes are spread among six different episodes. They run a total of 7 minutes altogether though they are not in one central location. They appear in the special features menu on each disc where their episodes reside.
“Profile: Rossi/Montegna” is a 7 ¾-minute featurette giving the history of the new character of David Rossi and the Tony-winning actor who plays him.
“Shemar Moore: Criminal Minds’ Wild Ride” is a brief 5 ¾-minute vignette on the MS charity bicycle ride which he takes part in each year. This year, an entire team of riders from the show also participated.
The season’s gag reel runs 5 ¼ minutes.
“From Script to Screen: ‘True Night’” goes into some fascinating detail on the development and execution of the season’s most unusual episode, done as a graphic novel a la Sin City. Interviewed are guest star Frankie Muniz and also the show’s production designer, special effects supervisor, the stunt coordinator, the costume designer, and the composer of music for the episode. This runs 12 ½ minutes.
“Killer Roles” goes into some detail on some of the season’s major bad guys and interviews the actors who play them. The shows which receive the most focus in this featurette are episodes 4, 7, 8, 10, and 11. It runs 15 ¾ minutes.
“The Criminal Element: The Making of Criminal Minds, Season 3” is a 20-minute overview of the season focusing on Patinkin's leaving and also on some of the other primary stories told during the past year including the fiery season cliffhanger.
The disc includes previews of Dexter, Twin Peaks, Criminal Minds-Season 2, and the CSI franchise.
The loss of Mandy Patinkin wasn’t felt at all in the third season of Criminal Minds. The season boasted quite a few unusual and beautifully realized episodes and continues to be one of CBS’ premiere procedural attractions.