Thursday, April 14, 2011

Simply Criminal

Maybe this whole horrible season was a dream after all. News came yesterday that A.J. Cook might be returning to “Criminal Minds.” The show has become my favorite traditional crime procedural of late, leaping over “CSI” and whatever incarnation of “Law & Order” is still out there. I liked the chemistry of the team, and I really liked that there were almost as many women as men. Three women, four men. That doesn’t happen super often on crime shows. Usually it’s a whole bunch of guys and a gal. Or a whole bunch of guys and two gals. But that’s about it. (“Bones” has a good mix, too, but it’s as much comedy as crime.)

And, yes, I realize there could be healthy debate about the merits of watching shows where women are the victims of violent crime. Do I sometimes struggle with that when the crime is particularly heinous? Certainly. I actually watch some scenes in fast forward. But I think “Criminal Minds” does a good job of both balancing out male and female victims and not glorifying the people who commit the crimes. It’s about catching the very, very, very bad guy (or gal), which is always satisfying. Also, Kirsten Vangsness is adorable and out. So, that’s always nice to support on the old teevee.

Right, so where was I? Oh, AJ’s return. According to, she could return as a full-time regular just as original series executive producer Ed Bernero is leaving. That would leave executive producer Erica Messer in charge, which coincidence or not seems kind of telling. The series sent fans into a tizzy at the end of last season when they were going to drop both AJ and co-star Paget Brewster’s contracts. Um, what? Drop two of the female leads and keep all the boys? Um, what the fuckity-fuck?

Fans rallied and managed to save a bit of Paget’s role (she was back, though not for every episode and as watchers know, has since departed), but not AJ’s. And then they brought in a younger blond model – The Not AJ. And then they proceeded to make most of her scenes with Joe Mantegna to give the show that weird, creepy father-daughter vibe it had always been missing. GENIUS! Also, can we talk about how utterly ridiculous it is for an experienced, veteran team to bring someone into the field who (when she started) hadn’t even graduated the academy yet? This isn’t a summer internship program, this is a highly skilled elite team.

Also, in one season the show went from one that was guaranteed to fulfill the Bechdel Rule every episode to one with spotty compliance and a lopsided male-to-female ratio. Thanks, but no thanks. I stopped season passing it after Paget left.

Word is that if Paget’s NBC comedy pilot doesn’t get picked up, CBS has an option for her to return to “Criminal Minds.” That means they could be bringing the whole band back together. I don’t wish failure on Paget in any way, but come on that would be awesome. (Yes, I know there are negotiations underway for Thomas Gibson and Shemar Moore’s contracts.)

Anyway, bottom line, don’t fuck with the female characters. We’re not interchangeable like building blocks. You can’t just put a newer one in and think the tower you’ve built will keep standing just the same. Especially when those blocks are as badass as AJ and Paget.


Redbone210 said...


Becks said...

I feel awful saying this, but I don't think the loss of Cook was that bad. Her character was a bit boring. As for the politics on the decision, well I'll leave it with you Americans to rage about, frankly I'm not that surprised. Dropping Brewster on the other hand, FUCK YOU VERY MUCH, we want her back, NOW!

Anonymous said...

This show is meh.....
Give me some Jennifer Beals in the Chicago Code
CBS viewers ,no comment

Dany said...

THANK YOU! I have been watching Criminal Minds since it started, and I always loved that they had so many women on the show. And not just women, but strong women who aren't defined by their relationship with men (although I do love Garcia's flirting with Morgan.. they are just so adorable and over the top!). I was devastated that they dropped AJ and Paget, and didn't get rid of any of the men. I also stopped seasoning passing it.

And don't get me started on Not JJ... or JJ2.0 as some fans call her. I remember when Paget's character came on, they made a HUGE deal of how elite the squad was and how people tried for YEARS to get on it.. and they let someone who hasn't even graduated the academy on? What? I don't care her dad was serial killer- that does NOT make you an elite profiler!

I hope they do the right thing and bring both AJ and Paget back.

Emelie the President said...

I LOVE THIS SHOW! And I totally agree! WTF dudes? Why are the women always the first to go? And why, if there are any women, they only let in younger, more good looking, and bimbo-like women???? So the man can rule even though they lose in numbers!?!?!? AAAAAahhhh! It makes me crazy! But Im sticking with this show... at least for a little while longer, I cant give up on my favorite!

P.S. Excellent blog!

Dawn/CO said...

I'm curious if anyone watches CM:behavior just for when Kirsten Vangsness shows up?
I noticed in this last episode that on Kirsten Vangsness's desk there was a picture of her and some blond gal. I believe Kirsten Vangsness is straight on the show and I thought her partner in life was a brunette, but I could be wrong. That would have been cool that they let her real life creep into her tv life.

Michele said...

The picture on Garcia's desk was of her and J.J. Very adorable! I've loved Paget since she played Cathy on Friends. I just want to see her on my tv again.

Chris said...

I must comment first on what Becks said. I think it is the fault of the writers and the show's producers that JJ was sometimes like wall decor in certain episodes. If she was a bit boring, I put the blame on them more so than the actress. AJ herself proved she could bring it when they gave her something to do and not just act as the conduit that presents the team and the case to the audience.

I very much miss the two of them on Criminal Minds. They were stong, smart, beautiful women that succeed in the BAU boy's club. Garcia is fun for fluff but JJ and Prentiss were great role models and well, quite frankly, gave this girl something pretty to look at amongst all the gore that this show could sometimes bring.

I truly hope they both come back to CM stronger than ever. And please, please jettison JJ-Lite. Can't stand her character and I don't think the actress can act her way out of a paper bag.

Anonymous said...

I love the Criminal Minds recognition! One of my favorite crime shows as well and I was super pissed when the planned on dropping the girls and keeping all of the boys. Only for them to bring on the "Not JJ".

I'd love to see them bring AJ Cook and Paget Brewster back. I miss the character dymanics with the team. And honestly, who didn't like to ship the two of them...just a little bit.

Anonymous said...

I normally tune in to the re-runs on either A&E or ION, so the mess that is this season never happened in my mind.

Gruesome and dark as this show is, these actors, like their BAU counterparts have grown to be family. And after 5 seasons, you just can't mess with family.

I was crushed when they axed AJ Cook. She was the soft-spoken backbone of the team, not to mention a deadshot with a gun.

I hope she comes back as a regular, and now you've gone and got my hopes up for Paget's potential return as well.

Anonymous said...

Why dump these women when we are left with Joe Mantegna who adds NOTHING to this show! I've liked him in past series and movies, but he is beyond dull and unbelievable in this. For me, both AJ and Prentiss were far more interesting and added something to the dynamics. Mantegna is a huge zero. I wonder why he's there. I guess he's supposed to pull in the older viewing audience, but I'm in my 50's and find him dull as dirt! Lose him and bring back AJ.

Cate said...

AJ is back!! she just went on twitter to announce she signed a new two year deal! Hopefully this means the guys will sign on again and maybe, just maybe, we'll get Paget back too! This has to be the biggest u-turn in tv history!

Norma Desmond said...

Yes, exactly. I'm glad AJ will be coming back, but, honestly, I like Paget's character much better... Which, I suppose, leaves me in the same boat as you in terms of wanting her to be successful but wanting her to come back... CONUNDRUM.

susannah said...

Hooray, Hooray we again have JJ!! I too thought JJ was basically "wallpaper," but I agree that was due to bad writing. However, the loss of Paget was more than I could bear, and I was furious that they dropped the two strong, intelligent, capable, kickass female agents, and kept all the men. I am hoping beyond hope that Paget comes back too and that they both get much better writing. Don't even get me started about JJ clone...She doesn't exist in my world, and the father daughter crap with Rossi is creepy.

What I find really surprising to read here, is all the love and support for Garcia. I understand that Kirsten is out and proud, and we need to support that, but Garcia is nothing but Morgan's lap dog or plaything. There is nothing in her emotional world but Morgan, who takes advantage of her emotions for him, but would never be with her in a zillion years because she isn't thin and hot, according to his standards. He addresses her as "baby girl" which is completely demeaning, and never treats her as a real person who can think and feel for herself, but just someone there for him, and she allows it. I can't stand to watch it.