Cop profiles fit the crime show formula
Criminal Minds 8.30pm, Seven
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.
Shrink wrapped: Shemar Moore as special agent Derek Morgan