Cop pro­files fit the crime show for­mula

Crim­i­nal Minds 8.30pm, Seven

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

HERE’S an idea for a new cop show. It would be called Naughty Naughty Cop; it would be set in NSW and ev­ery week the highly trained, gor­geous- look­ing rozzers from the se­cret in­ves­ti­ga­tions squad would end the show at their HQ look­ing tri­umphantly smug while suck­ing on huge spliffs, call­ing their book­ies and stuff­ing fist­fuls of cash down their pants.

Im­plau­si­ble? Hardly, but at least it would be a slightly dif­fer­ent for­mula from the one we’re used to.

Cops, af­ter all, do good on television and at the end of the hour or two the bad­dies are in jail or dead.

Crim­i­nal Minds is one of many crime shows on the box that fo­cuses on a spe­cial­ist branch of law en­force­ment, in this case an FBI mob called the be­havioural anal­y­sis unit, whose mis­sion, should they choose to ac­cept it, is to profile crim­i­nals and thus catch them.

We’re into se­ries three of this glossy af­fair and a fourth is on its way, so clearly its for­mu­laic approach to a left- of- cen­tre form of crime- fight­ing has main­stream ap­peal.

This episode, Scared to Death , fo­cuses on a se­rial killer, an unas­sum­ing fam­ily man who poses as a psy­chol­o­gist to prey on the fears of his pa­tients- vic­tims and, in his mind at least, right the wrongs of his trau­matic child­hood.

It’s a strong premise that al­lows the Vir­ginia- based be­hav­iour dudes plenty of scope to the­o­rise on the men­tal make- up of their tar­get. Un­for­tu­nately, it’s in this in­ves­tiga­tive rou­tine that plot orig­i­nal­ity gives way to gi­ant clumps of ex­po­si­tion, to the point where it seems the in­ves­ti­ga­tors are read­ing from a train­ing man­ual rather than the script.

Spe­cial agent Jen­nifer ‘‘ JJ’’ Jareau ( AJ Cook): ‘‘ We have four vic­tims in Ore­gon, two male, two fe­male.’’

Spe­cial agent Derek Morgan ( She­mar Moore): ‘‘ The tor­ture’s clearly sadis­tic.’’

Spe­cial agent Dr Spencer Reid ( Matthew Gray Gubler): ‘‘ The lack of sex­ual pref­er­ence makes it hard to tell if the per­son is male or fe­male.’’

Spe­cial agent Emily Pren­tiss ( Paget Brew­ster): ‘‘ Typ­i­cally fe­male se­rial killers stick to the same MO. Looks like this guy is all over the place.’’

And so it goes on, around the ta­ble, in rapid- fire bites, all di­rected at the chief, su­per­vi­sory spe­cial agent Aaron ‘ Hotch’’ Hotch­ner ( Thomas Gib­son), who takes it on his square chin and pro­cesses it into some­thing use­ful.

Much of this episode is lit­tered with this kind of rota sto­ry­telling, which gives all the clues to the viewer with­out re­veal­ing any of the char­ac­ter be­hind the well- groomed in­ves­ti­ga­tors. Back­ground has been de­vel­oped in ear­lier episodes, but if you’re com­ing in cold here you’ll won­der why none of the pro­tag­o­nists talk to each other the way nor­mal peo­ple do.

Maybe it’s be­cause pro­fil­ers don’t like be­ing pro­filed.

Iain Shed­den

Shrink wrapped: She­mar Moore as spe­cial agent Derek Morgan

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