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Arts and Entertainment

Criminal Minds

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Can you believe this one? Criminal Minds is a smart, procedural crime drama that’s not produced by veteran Hollywood mogul Jerry Bruckheimer or his New York-based counterpart Dick Wolf. The show is game of cat and mouse, with the right blend of intelligence and action and a little less of the gore that Bruckheimer tends to focus on, and the legal stuff that made Wolf a TV legend. This show focuses on what exactly makes a killer or other criminals, well, cukoo.

Criminal Minds has a lot in common with the mid-90s NBC series Profiler, which introduced the TV world to criminal psychology. But while latter show focused on the ESP-like “gift” of its star, Criminal Minds relies on intelligence and the study of criminal behavior.

In the pilot episode, viewers are introduced to the team: Special Agent Jason Gideon (Mandy Patinkin), the FBI’s leading criminal analyst. He’s just returned from medical leave -- his last assignment of hunting down a killer didn’t turn out so well. Viewers, though not given any real details, learn that his mistake cost the bureau six agents. Ouch.

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Joining the hunt for the latest serial kidnapper/killer is the supergenius Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler); straight-laced Agent Aaron Hotch (Thomas Gibson); cocky Agent Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore) and Agent Elle Greenaway (Lola Glaudini), whose specialty is sexual offenses. The team must anticipate the perp's next move -- and fast -- since a kidnapped woman only has a few hours left before she's swimming with the fishes.

Sure, we've seen this stuff before, but the psychology behind the minds of criminals is fascinating stuff. We're probably hoping that if we watch enough of these dramas, one day we'll get an answer to the question, "why?" The series also marks the return to series television for Patinkin since his memorable performance as Dr Jeffrey Geiger in Chicago Hope and for Gibson (best remembered as Greg in Dharma & Greg).

The show bowed on Thursday, after the season premiere of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (Las Vegas), but this week moves to its regular timeslot on Wednesdays at 9 PM. The positioning could spell trouble for this show: It's pitted against the Lost juggernaut.

Too bad. LAist liked the pilot episode better than Without a Trace, a Bruckheimer procedural crime drama (surprised?) that focuses on an FBI team that specializes in missing persons that's usually in that Thursday timeslot.

Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS.