Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season (2008)

Genre(s): Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Paramount || NR - 1107 minutes - $55.98 || September 8, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-09-21


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Jeff Davis (created by)
Cast: Joe Mantegna, Shemar Moore, Paget Brewster, A.J. Cook, Matthew Gray Gubler, Kirsten Vangsness, Thomas Gibson


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Working The Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • Profiles


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 7
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Stereo)
  • Subtitles: None

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.::THE FILM::.

“Criminal Minds” Season 4 opens with the conclusion to the season three finale which ended with the explosion of an SUV and no clue as to who was in the vehicle. Of course, none of our main cast members were badly injured, aside from minor hearing loss by Hotch. After the season premiere, ‘Mayhem’, the series goes onto its routine course, and normally that would mean “boring” or “ordinary” but for me it’s what makes the show work from week to week.

What this show does great, even more so than even “CSI” at this point, is the writers give us a great story/mystery while still allowing us to get insight into the ensemble cast, yet still making the plot a priority (this is what “The Unit” did wrong by focusing too much on the domestic side). With “Criminal Minds”, the times spent with the characters are out in the field solving a brutal crime rather than inside an apartment or house, pondering their career and drowning their sorrows with a glass of wine.

** Warning: Season Four Spoilers **

Season four has a couple standout episodes including the introduction to a serial killer known as “The Reaper” (played by veteran C-movie actor C. Thomas Howell). In the episode entitled ‘Omnivore’ (4.18), a serial killer that has been dormant for a decade starts up once again after the lead investigator before had made a deal to stop hunting him and in return, “The Reaper” will stop his killing. When the investigator dies, the killings begin and now Hotch, who was a part of the investigation, makes things personal to hunt him down before more people die.

The other episodes are fairly by the book meaning we get the standard killer opening followed by the BAU being asked to come in and help catch the unsub, giving a profile to the local authorities and then a race against time to save the final victim before it’s too late. Now, thankfully they do manage to break the mold and quite effectively.

One of my personal favorite episodes was ‘Normal’ guest starring Mitch Pileggi in a role reminiscent of Michael Douglas in Falling Down. The episode finds Pileggi as a father feeling remorse for the loss of a loved one and disrespect from the rest of his family. He and his wife work for the same company but while she has found success, he just goes through the motions and at home, his daughters look at him like a stranger. The finale of the episode is certainly surprising even for a show like this...

“Criminal Minds” Season Four, outside of the aforementioned ‘Omnivore’, doesn’t really have that “amazing” episode but the culmination of all 26 episodes makes it a must-watch series. I like it that (and I know I’m increasingly in the minority), for the most part, you can miss an episode or two, get back in without really missing a beat. I know some prefer season-long story arcs (like “Lost” or “24”), but for me watching them live (vs. DVD/BD), I prefer self-contained stories and this one fits the mold perfectly.

Overall, I consider “Criminal Minds” my third favorite show on television behind “CSI” (yes, despite its story problems) and “NCIS”.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Packaging: Unlike other season sets, these have not changed much. The 7 discs are stored in 4 slimline cases (2 in 3 cases, 1 in 1 case), housed inside a regular slip case.

Once again, CBS/Paramount decided to slim down on the extras foregoing on any episode commentaries (as they did for season three), but we still get a few features:

On 11 episodes, we get a featurette entitled Working the Scene (51:26) which examines a particular scene or sequence in that episode. The featurettes range from how certain stunts were performed to interviewing cast and crew members for an important episode (like Jason Alexander in ‘Masterpiece’).

Next up are 5 standard deleted scenes (3:52), a gag reel (4:35) and profiles (23:10) on all 7 main characters. The profiles are just featurettes where the actor and members of the crew talk about the character’s season arc with scenes interspersed throughout, nothing all that fascinating about these.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Criminal Minds” is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio, as it airs on CBS HD, and overall this is a pretty damn good looking picture. There isn’t that much in the way of pixilation or dust/scratches and the colors are all well done without looking flat.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 is an adequate audio track but nothing impressive; it gets the job done. The season does have quite a bit of action sequences (and chases) so the track does get a workout between the score, theme and general crashes while the dialogue sounds decent enough for my ears.



.::OVERALL::.

“Criminal Minds” is a show that balances suspense thrills with dramatic elements that keeps the main characters interesting with arcs that furthers them along rather than leave them stagnant and boring. This season features some solid episodes and guest stars and although the DVD isn’t heavy on features, the video looks quite good and the audio serves its purpose well enough.