CCCRIMINAL MINDS 300! THREE HUNDRED EPISODES! THEY DID IT!
Well here we are. They’ve shot 300, written by Erica Messer and directed by Glenn Kershaw. It’s in the can, and we get to see it, all of us, on October 3rd. Three hundred episodes. With that auspicious entry, Criminal Minds joins the pantheon of classic television shows like Gunsmoke, Dallas, and ER. More importantly, it gets to stand on its own as a survivor – a massive success driven by the dedication and professionalism of the crew, admin, and cast during over 13 years of production.
I’ve asked some notable show folk, as well as fans, to weigh in on this milestone, and/or what Criminal Minds has meant to them, and I’ll be glad to start with a few memories of my own…
- Getting invested the very first time I saw an episode, way back when. Knowing I was going to keep watching and never miss it. CM had instantly filled a giant hole left in my fangirl heart by the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I had never watched a procedural before (and haven’t since), but these heroes were immediately my new Scoobies. My heart melted at how evident it was that they cared for each other so much, these co-workers, these agents. It’s been an incredible journey to witness them all come into their own, and to grow as characters and people over the years. To see them become a family, no matter who came, or went.
- The excited, heightened feeling of being able to interact with the writers, producers, and actors in what was then state-of-the-art communication tools like message boards, chat rooms, and tumblr.
- Having the privilege of interviewing the one and only Harry Bring, which set in motion an abundance of interviews over the years where I’ve been lucky enough to talk with many of the people who make our show, and ask them questions about their lives and career trajectories.
- Seeing Matthew Gray Gubler as Dr. Spencer Reid on my screen for the first time. Wow. I’d never seen anyone like him on television before. Young and so skinny, with greasy hair and an FBI windbreaker – he was nonetheless compelling as hell with his amazing intellect, confidence in his abilities, and humble demeanor. Watching him grow into himself as a man has been a pleasure, and a treat. He remains my favorite character on any show, eclipsing Willow Rosenberg, and even Al Swearengen. My elation and ‘tongue-tiededness’ years later at getting to meet the man, first as an extra on his movie Hot Air, then at his 68 Kill movie premiere here in Austin, and then as a guest at the table read for the CM episode Dust and Bones during a once-in-a-lifetime set tour (what a DAY!) last September.
- The episodes, the episodes. Not every one was golden, but from the exceptional premiere Extreme Aggressor, to the gripping Believer that ended last season on a cliffhanger, there have been dozens upon dozens of offerings that have embedded themselves in my mind and heart, with some that I can recite word for word. Standouts like the entirety of the first two seasons, then Elephant’s Memory, The Uncanny Valley, Mayhem, Mosley Lane, 100, The Edge of Winter, The Apprenticeship, Nelson’s Sparrow, Entropy, Mr. Scratch, and many, many more that have entertained me, made me cheer and sob, and definitely made me believe in heroes again.
Paget Brewster starts us off: “I’m thrilled Prentiss didn’t actually die years ago- and honored I was able to come back home. Our milestone of 300 episodes is due to the creativity and hard work of our ENTIRE crew, writers, craftsmen and women. It’s an honor to be a part of such a glorious machine!”
Chelley Pyatt: “It’s no secret that the world at large is fascinated by police shows. The TV landscape is littered with police procedurals. And while Criminal Minds certainly falls within that category, it also stands alone. Unlike all the CSI type shows out there it asks the question “why” rather than how. And the why if it all is always so much more interesting. For those of us who would never dream of hurting another being the reasons for doing it are incomprehensible. Criminal Minds seeks to understand this. With riveting characters you can’t help but love and stories that get at the heart of both the worst and best parts of humanity it seeks to comprehend the why. And isn’t that what being human is all about?”
Breen Frazier: “When I think of my 11 years on the show, I’m the most humbled by the patience and good will of the fans. You stayed with us when we said goodbye to Mandy and hello to Joe. You stayed with us when we said goodbye to AJ and Paget and then— uh, welcome back AJ and Paget!
Ryka Hirokane: “Maybe because I’m a little biased, but I absolutely loved the way the fans rallied around our show to bring AJ and Paget back. I think it shows how amazing the show is and how amazing the fans are.”
Harry Bring: “What blows my mind is that some of the crew had 4 and 5-year olds when the show started, and now they’re in college! Erica had an 8 month old on day one and then had a second child. They are both in middle and high school now. We are officially in that special legendary group that includes CSI, ER, Jack Benny Show, Ozzie and Harriet, Grey’s, Knots Landing, Bonanza. It’s incredible when you think about it.”
Dylan Hay-Chapman: “I left a crime show ending its fifth season to jump onto this crime show starting its fifth season that I expected to go for the unofficial standard seven seasons that is about to do its additional seventh season. Got that? And I remember listening to how much everyone adored the great guy I replaced. “He’s the New Ben” was my name for about three months. Ben was a veteran of the show here for two years, and this will be my tenth. 209 episodes and counting for me. I love my CM family and am grateful to the fans, truly.”
Reidfan: “Criminal Minds has helped me grow. I’ve always been squeamish, easily triggered by the sight of blood, guts and gore. I don’t go to horror movies etc because I know I can’t handle it. But thanks to Penelope Garcia, I’m able to get past at least part of it. Her dialogue often ‘warns’ it’s coming, so I can look away if it’s *really* bad. And she deals with it with such a gentle sense of humour, I’ve learned to ‘get over it’ “Today’s case is brought to you by the letter I for Ick….” etc. I watch *her* instead of the gore and I can deal.
Which is a good thing, because otherwise I’d be missing a pretty damn good show. I came into CM late, it was already airing its tenth season when I finally braved the ‘blood and guts’ factor. My son, who wants to be a police officer, suggested watching a few of the episodes that were running daily in the afternoons here at the time. I was reluctant, and he was really excited one day and said ‘But you gotta see these two that are on today, Mom! They’re the best two episodes of the series!” (at this point, Mr. Scratch hadn’t aired yet). I watched The Big Game and Revelations with him. And I was completely hooked. The writing was incredible. The story gripping. And the acting was phenomenal. I was vaguely aware of who Mandy Patinkin was. But the ‘kid playing Reid’. Good lord, where did you find this absolute gem? He’s incredible. I didn’t know his name that day, now I’ll never forget it.
Over the years, there have been some so-so episodes, some pretty good episodes and some absolutely stunningly great episodes. And it’s not a surprise to me that all the best ones seem to have one common factor: Matthew Gray Gubler. Either he’s portraying the episode’s central character, Spencer Reid (Elephant’s Memory, LDSK, Revelations, Instincts, Memoriam, Uncanny Valley, Nelson’s Sparrow, Entropy, the entire prison arc, especially the last two, Green Light and Red Light, Wheels Up); or he directed the episode (Mosley Lane, Alchemy, Mr Scratch, Elliot’s Pond, A Beautiful Disaster).
It’s been something of a privilege to watch all 299 episodes. Coming into it late, I made the conscious effort to go back and restart from the beginning (and just kick myself for not watching from the first day!) and watch and enjoy seeing the characters develop and grow over the years; like an ancillary family. I care about these people like they’re my own children/siblings. There have been so many moments on the show that have made me outright cry: The anguished sound of JJ’s voice in Mr. Scratch: “Spence is down”; the father at the end of Mosley Lane: “He was alive yesterday?” Rossi’s helplessness as Carolyn dies in his arms, Reid’s grief in Nelson’s Sparrow– good lord that man can act without saying a word, I lose it when he dabs at his eyes with shaking hands; Morgan and Reid saying goodbye in A Beautiful Disaster, the grown three siblings reuniting at the end of Elliot’s Pond, Reid set free in Green Light— the hug with Garcia and firm hold on her hand as they go off to find Diana; and the use of Elms District’s Journey On at the end of Red Light–Reid and mom reunited; all are absolutely breathtaking, riveting, heart wrenching well done scenes. Any one of them is a lesson on How To for a television writer/producer/director. Just fabulous, fabulous stuff.
But I have to return to the moment that hooked me. And confess that it’s probably, in retrospect, a good thing that I never saw Revelations when it first aired on tv without benefit of a fast forward button. The commercial break between when Reid falls backwards onto the floor in convulsions and ‘dies’ and Tobias Hankel/Raphael/Hankel’s father (more fantastic acting by James van der Beek) argues with himself about whether or not to resuscitate Reid would have ended me had I seen that live. It would have been the longest two minutes of my life. As it is, it’s an excruciatingly long ten seconds while I fast forward through the PVR’d version. I just cannot say enough good about Chris Mundy’s writing, Guy Norman Bee’s directing and most especially the absolutely brilliant performances by James van der Beek and Matthew Gray Gubler.
For this, I say thank you. I don’t think I’ve ever invested myself so deep in a show as I have Criminal Minds. And it’s because it’s so well done. 299 episodes in. I just hope there are many, many more.”
Jim Clemente: I can vividly remember the day I met Mandy Patinkin and told him stories about what it was like being an FBI Profiler… And the first time on set… And the first episode I wrote… And all of the wonderful people who became family… And our 300th Episode wrap party… And all the amazing moments in between! CM has changed my life and hopefully many other’s, for the better!
Hanelle Culpepper: “Congratulations Criminal Minds on your 300th! Glad I was able to join the party four times.”
Suceress: “I remember taking the batteries out of my house phone so it couldn’t ring & disturb me as well as giving specific instructions to all of my family members not to knock on my door or bother me when I was watching new episodes of Criminal Minds. Wednesday Nights were my “Do Not Disturb” nights.”
MorganGarciaGirls: “I remember the watch party the Wednesday Night Girls did for the 100th episode. We were on our personal Twitter accounts back then. I remember how we streamed “100” from different parts of the world and stayed up on different time zones and cried all together. Now, here we are, on our own Twitter fan club, about to do the exact same for “300”!
Onecia Roman: “Some of my fondest memories from the show are: being introduced to AJ Cook, who is my favorite actress and who has unknowingly helped me in so many ways! As well as watching the 200th episode. I remember seeing it and thinking how big of a milestone 200 episodes was. To think that now we’re at 300 is crazy! I am so incredibly grateful to this amazing cast and crew for their continuous hard work and dedication. Congratulations on 300 episodes and here’s to many many more!”
Jennifer Kaufman: Every time I watch Elephants Memory and Spencer tells his sad tale of being bullied, I cry. It really gets to me, Matthew really delivers. I also loved it when the ladies of the BAU showed off their FBI badges to Brad, the “real live FBI agent”. It was also really cute when Henry came in dressed as Spencer. And Mr. Scratch is not just a favorite episode of CM, but one of my favorite TV episodes ever!
Tari: Collectively, Criminal Minds has enriched my life as only truly great television can do for those of us who have always loved the medium. I’m thrilled beyond measure that my show has reached 300 episodes and beyond, and I wish I could personally thank every single person who has ever contributed to such an incredible gathering of talent, both front and center, and behind the scenes. You should all be extremely proud of this historic milestone, and for the incredible hours of story you’ve given to us: Thank you. Thank you.