Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hey CBS, maybe if you didn't waste money on a crappy spinoff, we wouldn't be in this mess.

I don't usually get all serious on this blog but I have some things to get off my chest.

You all know the deal. CBS is cutting AJ Cook and reducing Paget Brewster to a lesser role on Criminal Minds. A lot of you might be thinking, big deal, it's television. And you're right. To a degree, this doesn't matter in the grand scheme of the world, and it has nothing to do with bigger issues at hand. However, television and media has a direct influence on the world we live in and we need to realize that what's being reflected matters. The images we see on television rub off on our daily lives in countless ways and cutting JJ Jareau and Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds does two things.

1. It reduces the number of recurring female characters on that show to one, Kirsten Vangsness, whose portrayal of Garcia is amazing and fantastic and wonderful, but is not enough girl-power for me, personally.
2. It removes two strong, well-balanced and empowered female characters from a medium that sorely lacks good, decent, well-rounded portrayals of women.

I give the show a lot of shit sometimes. I do it because I love it, because I believe in it and because because I think that it's sometimes good to find the absurdity in a wonderful show about horrific things that happen in the world. This by no means indicates that I think any character is useless on the show. Even with all the flack I give Rossi, Joe Mantegna's portrayal is vital and integral to the show's dynamic. I feel like it would be one thing if AJ and Paget were leaving because they wanted to do other things, because other opportunities had been offered to them and they were ready for new horizons. It would be another thing if they were doing this for a creative reason. But the fact that they're not being offered their original contracts is just plain ridiculous, and an issue of money. CBS is taking funds from this show in order to produce a watered down, less-interesting version of it, with a cast that the original Criminal Minds fans have already expressed displeasure with. Their stories are not interesting. The one episode we got last year featuring this new spinoff cast was lackluster and not particularly enough to rope me in for a whole season.

The fans don't care about the spinoff. The fans aren't going to watch it. Maybe some will, but certainly not all, and certainly not now that money that could be spent to leave our original show the way it was is being reallocated to fund a project that isn't what we want.

I don't really know what I can do to assist the movement to support AJ and Paget and to keep Criminal Minds running the way it's supposed to. The team is a diverse dynamic and the women on this show are strong and vital to keeping the audience base just as diverse and dynamic. Here are some options that you can employ:

1. Add your name to the almost 3000 names already on the petition to save AJ and Paget's roles on the show.
2. Keep in contact with all the members of Criminal Minds on twitter, tell them you support them and ask them who we should write, email and call in order to keep our show running the way it should. Here are their twitter pages:

Thomas Gibson as "Aaron Hotchner"
Joe Mantegna "David Rossi"
AJ Cook "JJ Jareau"
Paget Brewster "Emily Prentiss"
Matthew Gray Gubler "Spencer Reid"
Kirsten Vangsness "Penelope Garcia"

In short, CBS is going to lose one of its top moneymakers if it continues down this path. I love this show, I know the people who read here love this show, and I'd hate to see Criminal Minds go south.

EDIT: Commenter Kelly just let me know:

Fans can also submit feedback directly to CBS via this form.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Criminal Minds 05x03 "Reckoner" or "Can I Take A Nap Because It's a Rossi Episode?"

Before we get too enmeshed in this edition of Shit I Find Hilarious About My Favorite Television Show, let's do some quick clean up. If you like what you read, please comment! Follow! Some of you have, and that's been great and amazing and the thrill I get when I get a comment from someone I didn't directly ask to read the blog (hi friends and family and maybe coworkers/bosses) is awesome. I tend to link people over here from the LJ community ontd_gubler (you fucking wackos, I love you all) and you are great at commenting on the LJ posts I make with links, but PLEASE comment over here too! I'm trying to convince the internet that I'm funny and it doesn't help when no one comments the blog entry itself.

Anyway, moving on. SO RECKONER. What's up episode three, what have you got in store for us?

OH SNAP, REALLY!? This is one of the creepiest and best cold opens ever. EVER in the history of the show. They're totally using all of the tactics from horror films that work. Lady comes home, power's not on, she's got an arm full of groceries and she's yelling into a phone about a very serious issue regarding her ex-husband and daughter. All the tension is there, bam, in your face, right from the beginning.

AND THEN SHE WATCHES HER NEW HUSBAND GET HIS FUCKING HANDS CUT OFF. HIS HAAAAANDS. AND PUT IN A BAG. It's AMAZING. This is what I love about Criminal Minds, guys. Unabashed fucking horror. The terrible, most awful, ugly things happen on this show and we get cathartic redemption (usually, but especially in this episode) in under an hour. It's my dose of emotional satisfaction.

So the lady blacks out and in another brilliant sweep of genius directing and editing, we cut to a shot of

THIS GQMF RIGHT HERE. Little Jack Hotchner, badassest of the badass, slayer of lady-hearts, taking park swinging to the NEXT LEVEL. It's his BIRTHDAY y'all. Which insinuates to me at first glance that we're getting a Hotch episode, which I'm cool with at this point because Hotch has been through Some Shit and that plotline is nowhere near resolved. So bring it. Give me more Hotch.

Wait. Is that who I think it is? Is that DB "Strange Luck" Sweeney in our parade of character actors? I LOVE THIS DUDE. I watched Strange Luck for the entire like, seventeen episodes that aired directly after the X-Files when I was in middle school. It was excellent. It was nominated for a primetime Emmy, for pete's sake. Okay, the Emmy was for sound editing, but come on. Also, please have a look at DB's IMDB page. There's nothing this guy hasn't done. Crime shows love him.

So Hotch is sad that he can't spend his birthday with his son. This shot of the rain is representative of the tears inside him that he can't cry. Or some shit. I don't know, but it's a nice soft-focus shot, yeah?

Wait a minute. No. No no no. No. NOOOOOO.


AHHHHHH. I HATE THIS GUY. Let's get one thing straight. I think Joe Mantegna is great. He is a fantastic actor and dude and his twitter is funny and he seems like an all around stand up guy. But Rossi is, at times, an unrepentant douche, and I don't know what it is but I just can't bring myself to give one fuck about what he's up to, or his life, or his four million wives or his wisdom or blah blah blah blah. Especially when the writers try to make it sound like Rossi has some dark, desperate past. He's all, I can maybe help us out with this case, but it means returning to my old life......... a life I left twenty years ago. DUN DUN DUNNNN.

Also, this might make me a terrible person but this victim's fashion sense is straight out of 1988.

Nice pixie cut paired with too muck lipstick and a turtleneck. I think Reid has that scarf somewhere and even HE thinks it's too lame to wear outside the house.

Speaking of Reid, Hotch is all, Reid, hobble the fuck over to Garcia's office because you've been lying to us about being able to fly with your busted up knee. Which is really the writers' way of saying, we don't know what the fuck to do with you this episode. You can sit this one out. At this point I was like, so wait. It's a Rossi episode AND we're only going to see Reid on the computer screen?

I'm with you, Reid. Fuck this. I'm outta here.

JJ briefs the team on the methods of the unsub's murderous ways, one of which includes missing genitals on the victim.

The Apprentice: When I hear "his genitals are missing" I think, CALL OLIVIA AND STABLER.

Me too. This show could use some Ice-T, really.

Haha so wait, our unsub's got a list? And he crosses out names with a pen? This motherfucker is organized. He has shit to do. His day planner is like:

11:15 AM - Yoga
12:30 PM - Lunch with mom
3:30 PM - Remove Bill Levington's genitals

BLOOD SHOT. Criminal Minds loves these.

Look how caring JJ is. She's probably a really good listener and smells maybe like jasmine and baby powder. They're like, JJ, you have soft blonde hair and a calming voice. Go interview the living victim.

GOD, WE GET IT. JJ is caring and kind. As soon as you have a kid on a television show, you get relegated to a mish mash of stereotypes. Give her a vest and a gun again, guys, c'mon. Though to be honest, this interview was kind of disturbing because it brought is back to the cold open murder really well. The victim was like, why didn't he kill me? Which always scares the pants off me.

So Rossi walks into the bar where he's gotta meet up with his old mob friends. Of course he has ties to the mob. Come on. This is Rossi. The Apprentice brought up the fact that Rossi seems very pulp-y, and I agree. He's got this almost noir hero edge to him. Bedraggled, old, bad with women and probably the first person to say something racist when he's loaded. Apprentice said we should stick him in a Dick Tracy trench and call it a day.

Are they watching polo or something? What kind of mob is this?

If you can't get Colin Farrell on your television show, get this dude. He's a classic Irishman. And his name on the show is Sean. Obvious show is obvious. But I like this guy, for some reason. He's got a swagger about him.

Rossi sits down with his old mob boss buddy and is like, who the hell is killing these people? Mob boss alludes to this Emma character from Rossi's past who I guess was his one true love. Blah blah blah. But eventually we get some info about our unsub. This guy's muscle, not a planner. He kills for cash and shoots the same way. Which means there's someone else stuffing his day planner full of vendettas and not wanting to get his hands dirty. So the dude agrees that in exchange for Rossi lowering Irish Sean's prison sentence to two years in a federal pen, he'll bring Rossi the muscle dude doing all the killing and from there, they can find the planner.

OH HEY LOOK. They're both fighting for mom and dad's attention on the screen! Reid is answering all the questions Garcia usually answers because he feels left out. Poor baby. But I love that when the writers remember to stick to something, they do, like Garcia not being able to handle other people in her workspace. She goes alpha lady apeshit.

What ties this all together is that it turns out that the unsubs are offing child molesters. One by one. Which, okay, but how am I supposed to hate these unsubs now? Occasionally, Criminal Minds throws us a bone and makes us a little conflicted. Prentiss goes to interview the victim of one of the child molesters and her dad's in the room. Which, isn't that against the rules? And then the dad is like, why didn't you tell me, why are you always lying?

Prentiss is like, excuse me, bitch, but shut the fuck up with your victim blaming. Prentiss is like a more hardass Olivia Benson, or at least a better acted one. She hates misogynists, victim-shamers and rapists.

I just thought the light was hitting Morgan's eyebrows really nicely here.

Rossi and Hotch are staking out the bar where the mob guy is gonna bring Rossi the killer. They're sitting in a van and for some reason it reminds me of a stoner comedy, even though no one is smiling, especially not Hotch.

They have this emo moment about Hotch missing his wife and kid and Rossi sort of starts in on this spiel that's been recited to Hotch a thousand times about how he should stop letting the job rule his life. You folks clearly don't know who this guy is. He knows this, but he can't help himself. He's already at the point where his family is in witness protection in order to safe them from getting knifed by The Reaper. We're kind of past the point of reclaiming his life in spite of the job.

But then this ninja unsub dude busts in and kills the mob boss and Rossi basically just effed over his childhood friend. Burn. Told you the Feds can't be trusted.

Somewhere along the way, we learn that this mysterious dude behind the list:

...is some judge who married Rossi's true love, Emma. She croaked in a car accident and he discovered he had cancer and only six months to live. So he has nothing to lose by offing all the people that he thinks escaped the justice system under his watch. He made a list and he paid the killer a ton of money and the killer picked them off one by one like a crossword puzzle that Garcia solved before Reid did in the scene before.

Her pleased as punch face is great.

I digress. This episode is the episode where they explain that unsub means unknown subject. We get one of these per season, usually, just for the stragglers. So they figure out who it is and then BAM. In walks the judge, all like, LOOKIN' FOR ME?

So duh, they interrogate him. Rossi's basically like, you don't remember me, but I toooootally fucked your wife. And the judge is like, bitch what? And Rossi's like, yeaaaaah. Multiple times. Which is a badass move. I like Rossi in this moment for sticking it to the man. It's like he's backing up all his cocky swagger in one swift blow. They want to know who's last on the list, and so, with his spirit broken, the judge tells him that the last guy on the list was the truck driver who hit his wife and killed her.

Ohhhh poor dude. There's a guy with a baseball bat behind you.

He's a tank and his scowl is almost as rough as Hotch's.

No wait, look at that smile. I take that back. He loves this shit.

Our rag tag team of FBI profilers has a WAIT A MINUTE moment in the eleventh hour like this is an episode of House or something. They're like, his wife is dead, he has six months to live, he turned himself in. There's no WAY this dude is planning on staying alive. And then in the middle of them leading him out of the precinct, there's a sniper shot and JJ gets blood all over her pretty outfit.


Blood shot. I also wanted to direct your attention to the suspenders. A signature of old men.

So back on the plane, Rossi and Hotch have the SAME FUCKING CONVERSATION they had in the car. Don't get obsessed with the job, Aaron. Don't let the one true pure thing in your life slip away because you're obsessed with this job, Aaron. Shut up, Rossi. Hotch IS HIS JOB. There is no line anymore. There is no Life Hotch and Job Hotch. They are one in the same. And THEN. Rossi is like, oh by the way, I didn't ever sleep with Emma. ARE YOU FOR SERIOUS!? THE ONE AWESOME THING YOU'VE EVER DONE WAS A LIE!?

We get a little coda in this episode, which is rare. But kind of great.

Killer dude took his ass to Florida and retired with his cash. He's golfing. Getting in his car.


Justice is served, bitch.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Criminal Minds 05x02 "Haunted" or "I Really Had To Scrape To Find Funny Shit About This Episode"

Any time an episode starts with a sepia toned, soft-filter flashback, I know I'm in for a freaking ride.

Then this Sean Patrick Flannery look-alike is like, hey, give me my meds. Look at me twitching. The lady behind the counter refuses him. This is her first dumbshit move. I mean come on. This guy clearly looks agitated.

I'd call that pretty pissed, yeah. And then he goes ape and shanks three people in the pharmacy line.

The Apprentice: This is how I feel getting medicine from CVS.

I mean seriously, sometimes they just move so slow.

Back at the ranch, Brows shows up for some real talk with Papa Rossi. To which I want to be like, dude, going to Rossi to express your concerns about a fellow teammate's well being is like going to Ray Liotta to talk career choices. After a certain point, he just doesn't really care anymore.

I mean, are you watching the same show I am? It's been three-ish seasons and you haven't realized yet that Rossi's answer to every problem is to just power through? If this dude got shot in the leg, he'd walk it off.

See? He's an arrogant bastard. Look at that smug face.

And then Morgan's like, shouldn't we be concerned that Hotch is going to be distracted by this whole, Reaper going after his family thing? And Rossi's like, nah. Nah. He'll be motivated.

You're gonna eat your words, sucker.

Criminal Minds sometimes likes to beat into the audience that the characters are facing difficult times. Not only do we get a Rossi/Morgan scene detailing Hotch's predicament, but we get a far superior and far more interesting scene with Garcia and Reid about almost the exact same thing. I think this is one of my favorite scenes in season five, and we're only two episodes in.

And it's not because Reid is sucking on a lollipop the entire time, but that helps.

But mostly it's because in this scene we get a good character-view of Hotch from the perspective of his foil. If you've been watching Criminal Minds for five seasons and haven't figured out that Hotch and Reid are supposed to be foils, there's no help for you. Sometimes I think that maybe Morgan and Reid are set up the same way, like they're expressly meant to be compared and contrasted by the viewer, but I think that Hotch and Reid do a better job of it. They're both pretty serious about their work, they both lack personal lives, they both dress pretty business while everyone else on the team kind of goes semi-casual. And yet Reid makes the distinction between them. Hotch never blinks. Hotch stares down the enemy every time. And Reid's a blinker.

We also learn that the unsub's name is Darrin. Darrin. I dare you to name anyone cool named Darrin.

Explain to me why Prentiss is picking up Hotch? I feel like the writers started the seeds of an abandoned 'ship and then thought better of it. See: Season One, Reid and JJ.

The Apprentice and I for some reason found this the appropriate time to discuss Hotch's dependence on the BAU and his job. It's the one thing he's sacrificed everything else for, marriage, social life, moving up in the FBI world.

Me: Totally, if you take Hotch's job away, what does he have left?
The Apprentice: That scowl.


Hotch goes to interview the pharmacist lady like, what the fuck happened here? And she's like, I didn't give him his meds because he was out of refills! And then Hotch is like ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND, THIS GUY IS IN A PSYCHOTIC BREAK and you didn't give him his meds!?

He's all "This bitch..."

And then he calls Garcia, and he's like, "WHAT ELSE DID YOU MISS, STUPID?" and Garcia doesn't like getting yelled at so she makes this face a lot:

Criminal Minds can really put me on edge sometimes. Even the way Garcia hesitates when talking to Hotch makes me uncomfortable, and on the plane, when Hotch asked Reid how long he was going to be on crutches and looked pissed when he didn't know, it wasn't the usual ribbing and teasing that goes on on the jet. It was different and made me uneasy.

So then the unsub dude goes to his psychiatrist and has this Lady Macbeth freakout about how dirty his shirt is and starts yelling like the guy from Sling Blade. It's this kind of guttural grunt-barking, and I don't like it.


Also, crazy unsub is crazy, but adorable flashback unsub baby is adorable. This is a paradox, Criminal Minds. Are you trying to make me like this guy? You probably are. Giving him an adorable child actor to portray his younger self is sneaky and WORKING.

At this point in the episode, The Apprentice and I realized how freaking uncomfortable we were. I think at one point, one of us said, "there is nothing lulzy about this episode, man" and continued along in awkward silence. Sometimes the subject matter on Criminal Minds is heavy, and sometimes it is not (see, upcoming episode about the unsub who really just needs an eharmony profile) but this episode is pretty heavy. Unsub who was used as bait as a child for his crazy serial killer father? And now has repressed memories and guilt? Yeah, pair that with the fact that Hotch just got back from his leave after being stabbed repeatedly by Ponyboy and you've got yourself a recipe for an episode that makes me pull my collar uneasily.

For some reason, the camera-movement in this next shot at the precinct makes me seasick. It's like they switched to handheld for no reason and everyone's standing on a boat.

Here's a gratuitous shot of Reid from that scene.

Criminal Minds is also totally fucking with my childhood perception of orphanages being huge, angry brick buildings filled with kids in shabby clothes with dirty faces. I mean, is this really what orphanages look like now?

So at this point, unsub snatches up a kid from the orphanage and takes him on the road. I forget what the hell the Cop of the Week did to piss Hotch off, but he's angry. And Hotch is the one who's always like, quit being a dick to the cops, you guys, it's not our fault none of them have graduate degrees. This is a testament to Hotch's state of mind. Instead of trying to work with the cops, he's like, SHUT UP. I KNOW WHAT I'M DOING. I'M IN A FUCKING SUIT.

I don't know if you know this, but television has a long-standing love affair with the father/son trope. It is everywhere. It's also everywhere in film and literature too, but we're talking television right now, so let's stick to that. Criminal Minds particularly loves this trope too. I can't think of anyone on that show who has a functional father figure, except maybe JJ or Rossi and that's because we don't know anything about them, but I'm willing to even doubt Rossi. Reid's father split when he was a kid (I might even go back and recap those episodes from season four because they're some of my favorites) Hotch's dad apparently beat the holy hell out of him as a kid, Prentiss' dad is out of the picture, Morgan's dad was shot in front of him, Garcia's dad is dead. And a lot of this show's way of dealing with that is showing the way that the cast deals with what's been passed down to them from parents. This unsub gets locked into that trope. The episode is undoubtedly about coping with what we inherit from our parents, for better or worse, and how it sometimes short circuits people.

Hotch goes with the unsub to the unsub's father's house, the old serial killer who no one ever caught. Hotch knows, above all else that there's only one resolution to the situation, as he had a shit dad himself and obviously this unsub can't cope with his daddy issues by joining the BAU, as Hotch has done. The Cop of the Week wants to go in guns blazing, as they always freaking do, and Emily is like NO ONE IS GOING TO DIE HERE, DUDE.

Hotch also goes into the house without a vest on, which is a big FBI no no. The rest of the BAU figuratively shits themselves over this and Rossi, as wise and old and bearded as he is, is like WE HAVE TO TRUST HOTCH TO DO THIS.

Morgan's eyebrow does not agree.

The cops want to take out the guy with a sniper shot, but IN TRUE BAU FASHION, Hotch is blocking the shot. Who does he think he is, Reid? That's Reid's job. Also, inside, he's trying to reason with the unsub. REASON WITH THE UNSUB. AGAIN. WHO DOES HE THINK HE IS, REID? Hasn't he learned over the past however many years that you can't argue with an unsub? Especially not a psychotic one?

Batman is displeased at your insolence.

So then the unsub shoots his dad and Hotch comes out and is like, "I couldn't stop him." Bullshit, dude. You just wanted to let him have his moment of catharsis. I know how this freaking show works.

Back at the ranch, Morgan and his eyebrows are really upset about Hotch going into the house alone, without a vest. Rossi's like, it's cool. We've got to trust him. He's Our Fearless Leader. Why didn't we have this conversation, say, in season three, when Reid stepped in front of the kid with the sawed-off shotgun with his hands up and NO GUN AND NO VEST? Why is it suddenly a big deal when Hotch does it? At least Reid gets results.

Sidebar, quit trying to make Hotch/Prentiss happen, writers. You've established Hotch as the lone, loveless wolfpack leader, and now you need to stick with it.

Thaaaaat's better.

This show, man.