I was pleased and heartened to see the degree of imagination and enthusiasm put into these performances herein by regulars and guest stars alike, but above all I reserve my highest praise for the show's writers and directors, and I commend likewise the producers and even those tasked with creating the opening and closing credits, including the opening lines read by Mr Sinise with just the correct amount of gravity as each episode shows us on the global map where the drama will be taking place in our troubled world.
I know that not everyone will agree with me on this one, but it won't be the first review in which my opinion has gone against the grain, one direction or t'other.
Many viewers are heartily displeased with this show, citing its similarity to other Criminal Minds shows. Well, of course it's similar, to a limited degree! It is supposed to be so.
If it weren't, people would complain long and loud that it wasn't the same show, did not have the right to bear the franchise name as part of its title, and so on! I can well imagine the ruckus, as I have in fact seen spinoffs that diverged so severely from their parent shows that no resemblance save for the title remained. And in those instances, believe me, fans were anything but happy. I would have sided with that lot if that had happened here, but it didn't, and that's just as it ought to be.
To be a proper spinoff, the show needs a dash of resemblance to its parent series, or it simply wouldn't work. This one has just enough and no more. Then it takes off in its own direction to do its own thing, which is to show us tantalizing glimpses of the amazing beauty of this world whilst it makes us tremble as the perilous dangers it hides are exposed to our wondering eyes.
It has just the right touch of similarity to the other shows in the franchise as a framework around which to build episode after episode of fascinating, thrilling, and often downright terrifying mystery set on foreign shores.
In some cases, the villains have dark ulterior motives, based on the idea that visiting Yanks must have bucketloads of money.
But other times, the villain will turn out to be a tragic lunatic, caught in a welter of anger and grief and mental illness that his or her native land cannot handle and that some terribly unfortunate visitor has fatally stumbled right into, when the journey of a lifetime's dream swiftly becomes a nightmare death or kidnapping. Occasionally, we get the unexpected lift of seeing a captured American who was thought dead returned far from unscathed but thankfully alive.
About the villain's motivation: the other Criminal Minds shows have a bit less freedom in this one area. Generally they must produce a serial offender who, whether from psychopathy or some other mental aberration, is killing due to pressure from the deranged psyche within.
Here, on the other hand, we see that the offender on foreign shores may sometimes be possessed of financial motives, sometimes have powerful political ideation as his/her driving inner force, or sometimes be genuinely and tragically insane. For yet another twist, one show revealed the primary perpetrator to be an expat American! One truly cannot be fully prepared for what the ending may reveal. Expect the unexpected.
Not only does this show have that latitude of freedom to surprise and thrill the suspense-filled viewer, it also has both the sophistication and the restraint not to give the game away midshow by adding too many hints or splashing us with any gratuitous gore (there is plenty of gore, but it's not excessive or childish), and even for viewers who, like me, often have a show's plot untangled well before closing credits roll, this show, I promise you, will often have you guessing right up until the shocking denouement in which both villain and motives are chillingly exposed.
In some cases the effect will leave you sitting stunned and not a little perturbed well after your telly is switched off and the household has quieted down for bed.
Be prepared for disturbing dreams, perhaps, but likewise, be prepared for learning new things, stretching your mind, weeping a bit here and there, being moved to do something IRL to help our fellow human beings around our troubled globe---
And above all else, be fully prepared to enjoy a wild, sometimes deeply scary, often downright thrilling ride delivered to us by the criminally creative minds behind this delightful franchise.
I give this show highest marks, but am truly saddened to see that it appears to have been cancelled after only one season! Alas!
I would have hoped to see episodes set in places including: Northern Ireland (my homeland before emigrating here to the States), Tunisia, McMurdo Station or better yet Vostok Station in Antarctica, North Korea (!!!!), Canada (don't roll your eyes; a lot can go awry in Quebec with the tensions between mainstream Canadians and French Canadians, and I know that the Criminal Minds franchise has already done things with our Northern border as a theme), Australia (out in the Bush), Fiji, New Zealand, Swaziland, the Congo, the Philippines, and oh, the list goes on... Too many places where a show could give us breathtakingly beautiful scenery to gawk at whilst a thrilling plot demonstrates what can happen when things go chillingly wrong.
Well, I'm happy to have the shows they did film, and don't regret at all that I purchased the lot. They are worth it and then some!
A great show, and a source of deep thought on the world in which we live and the direction in which it may be headed...