TV Box Set Review: Criminal Minds – The Fourth Season

Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season DVD Box ArtWriters: Various
Director: Various
Cast: Shemar Moore, Thomas Gibson, Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook, Kirsten Vangsness, Paget Brewster, Joe Mantegna
Rating: Na
Studio: CBS/Paramount

Release Info:
Original Air Dates: September 22, 2005 – Present
DVD Release Date: September 8, 2009
Online Availability: Amazon for $44.99

I am a huge fan of Criminal Minds. It is one of the few shows I watch that I do not DVR. I watch the show when it airs on CBS, Wednesdays at 9 PM. I have been into this show ever since we had the chance to review the second season when it was released by CBS and Paramount. Since that time, Criminal Minds has quickly become one of my very favorite shows.

I have always been interested in criminal investigations, but it seems as though most crime shows on television either follow the law aspect (you have your Law and Order, for example) or the scientific evidence approach (CSI anyone?). Criminal Minds actually explores crime from a behavioral aspect. You get into the mind of the perpetrator to establish a profile and determine how they tick, in order to determine what kind of person committed such a crime. To me, this makes the show unique.

I was sad when Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) left the show, and didn’t want to like Rossi (Joe Mantegna), who came in as a replacement in Patinkin’s absence, but after watching him in Season Four, I realize that I do like Rossi. Gideon and Rossi are two entirely different characters. I believe if Rossi had been the shadow of Gideon’s character, it would be much harder to like him, but luckily, Rossi has his own things going for him. Mantegna is an excellent actor, and he has found a way to integrate Rossi into the group without trampling all over fan’s feelings of the beloved character, Gideon.

By this season, Rossi is a definitive part of the group. The actors for the show all work together nicely. My favorite characters are Dr. Spencer Reed (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), although I don’t dislike any of the primary characters on this series. I also like the wide array of guest stars that show up every episode. I have recognized many different guest stars that I’ve seen on other shows and in the movies. It is nice to see that these actors want to be a part of Criminal Minds.

The Criminal Minds Episode List
Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season features 26 episodes.

Here is a brief synopsis for each episode:

“Mayhem”: At the end of season four a bomb took out an SUV that looked to have a BAU member inside. The season starts with a frantic search for the member in the SUV and then to determine who the terrorists are that caused the mass mayhem in the city.

“The Angel Maker”: It is up to the BAU to find a link connecting past and present when a series of crimes all point to a serial killer that has already died.

Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season Screenshot 1

“Minimal Loss”: Luke Perry guest stars as a crazed cult leader on the edge of a Waco disaster. It’s up to Prentiss and Reid to go undercover and see how bad things really are. They find out when they end up being taken hostage.

“Paradise”: The team heads to Nevada to hunt another serial killer. This killer attempts to cover up his work by making the murders look like car accidents.

“Catching Out”: As the team head to California they look at a killer that appears to be working off of the train system and the trains that he jumps. This takes him to various locations along the railway.

“The Instincts”: Reid is plagued with nightmares when a young boy is kidnapped in Nevada. This brings a number of forgotten memories to the surface that lead him to an investigation of the case and his own history.

“Memoriam”: Reid stays around Las Vegas in hopes of figuring out what his dreams mean. As a result, he learns a few things about the boy in his thoughts and how they are connected.

“Masterpiece”: Jason Alexander guest stars as a psychopath that is full of ego. Announcing that he has already killed a number of people is one thing, but the fact that he is announcing that more will die leads the team into a frenzy to find the future victims before it will be too late.

“52 Pickup”: Jordan Todd works with Prentiss as they go undercover to get the goods on a serial killer that uses his arrogant skill as a pick-up artist to lure his victims.

Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season Screenshot 2

“Brothers in Arms”: Morgan has a hard time dealing with the roll of the dice when the BAU hunts a killer with a penchant for taking out police officers in Arizona.

“Normal”: JJ brings in the baby so that he can meet the people that his mommy works with. Meanwhile, the BAU is working on a case trying to catch the Road Warrior – a serial killer that shoots blondes driving the Orange County highways.

“Soul Mates”: A young woman comes up missing from a nice Florida neighborhood. The team works to build a profile for the criminal, though this case isn’t as cut and dry as some. As a profile emerges it appears to be one of a pair of serial killers that are working together.

“Bloodline”: The team make their way to Alabama this time to deal with what looks like an entire family of abductors. As a young girl goes missing, the BAU has to crack the case in hopes of finding her.

“Cold Comfort”: In Seattle, a mother of an abducted child attempts to help the BAU as much as possible. The goal this time is to find a serial killer known for taking his victims, murdering them, and embalming them on his own.

“Zoe’s Reprise”: A copycat is on the loose in Cleveland. The BAU has to help track and profile a killer that uses methods created by murderers that were famous for their crimes.

“Pleasure is My Business”: A call girl is under fire when she lures her clients with her special talents and her seductive beauty. Unfortunately for her clients, they are unaware that she is really a killer. The BAU attempt to find her and to understand what has lead her to this.

“Demonology”: This time the deaths that have occurred do not look like murders at first glance. Soon after, it appears that the deaths were linked to some various exorcisms that have taken place. Prentiss brings the case, which doesn’t exist in the beginning, to the BAU because she has a personal relationship with one of the victims.

“Omnivore”: It’s been ten years since Hotchner worked on a case concerning the killer that would become infamous as far as New England murderers go. However, now that the police chief has died, the murderer has reemerged and Hotchner and the other members of the BAU need to find a way to stop him.

“House on Fire”: An arsonist is making it his mission to instill terror into the locals of an Indiana town. The residents of Royal are being popped off one by one as buildings are being set aflame with the residents locked inside. The BAU is brought in to the town to try and catch the arsonist and set the town at ease.

“Conflicted”: Students on Spring Break at South Padre Island are the most likely to get picked off by a serial killer that is targeting male students. The BAU consider the fact that it is possible that a team is working together, but as the profile unfolds it becomes obvious that something completely unexpected is actually the reality of the case.

“A Shade of Gray”: Children are being taken and murdered from a city in New Jersey. However, as the BAU works the case they are left with the conclusion that the final murder could not have been the work of the person they catch for all of the murders.

“The Big Wheel”: A murderer sends a tape of his handiwork to the BAU. In the tape is some evidence that shows that the murderer desperately wants help in ending the killings that he is doing.

“Roadkill”: A serial killer is striking out at Oregon locals with his car. Instead of touching them, he is running them over like the title of the episode implies.

Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season Screenshot 3

“Amplification”: A new, deadly form of anthrax is released in Annapolis. The strain eats away at a person within hours and is deadly to anyone that comes in contact with it. The BAU has to track down the maker of the strain before anymore is released. Things become personal when one of the team ends up in close contact with the anthrax.

“To Hell…”: The BAU is sent to Detroit in the final season episode (it’s a two hour episode). The team is led to Detroit when a former military man claims to be killing vagrants and homeless people, but is only attempting to get them there to investigate the cases that the city police are ignoring.

“…And Back”: The case leads the BAU to Canada and to a pair of killers, one much more devious than the other. As the season comes to a close, one of the BAU is faced with a killer that got away.

Storyline/Plot: [rating:5]
Replayability: [rating:5]
Acting: [rating:5]
Directing: [rating:5]

Criminal Minds looks as good here as it does each week on television. This is one of the many benefits to watching a newer show and then purchasing it when it comes out immediately on DVD. The visual quality offers a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with anamorphic widescreen. The colors are strong, as are the black levels. Things remain clear for the majority of the episodes and the level of detail is consistent. Sure, it’s not Blu-ray but for television this is a high quality transfer. Nothing truly negative comes to mind visually speaking. Like I said, it’s consistent with television viewing and that’s not too bad.

As expected with a newer audio transfer, Criminal Minds makes use of a Dolby Digital 5.1 track. There are plenty of action moments throughout the episodes and they are handled as well as to be expected based on this version of digital sound. The background noise helps to build a story, the dialogue is easy to hear, and everything works out well overall. Volume toggling is not necessary. In addition to English sound, Closed Captioning and English subtitles are also included.

Visual: [rating:4.5]
Audio: [rating:4.5]

Bonus Features:
There is a small set of bonus features available in the fourth season of Criminal Minds Box Set. You have your choice between character profiles for the cast, a selection of deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a series of featurettes that all deal with the same thing. Fans should enjoy the deleted scenes and the gag reel as it does get quite amusing.

Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season Screenshot 4

The profiles are pretty basic stuff for the most part, but are nice if you are newer to the show. The featurettes are called “Working the Scene” and they break down at least one scene in a number of the episodes. Things like fight sequences and other action moments are focused on for the most part, which makes sense given the nature of the show.

Bonus Features: [rating:3]

Bottom Line:
If you are a fan of Criminal Minds I expect you will want to own Criminal Minds: The Fourth Season. If you have never seen the show before, I recommend starting with the Season One Box Set. However, the majority of the episodes work well as stand alone episodes, where only minimal knowledge of the characters and their history is needed. Of course, for example, knowing that Morgan and Garcia flirt shamelessly, but are just really good friends, makes more sense when the two are palling around, if you’ve seen their relationship develop from inception, but this isn’t so serial a show that missing an episode is going to confuse you. With excellent video and audio, and a few fun bonuses, this box set is worth the purchase. Criminal Minds:The Fourth Season comes highly recommended.


[tags]TV Box Set Review, CBS, Paramount, Dr. Spencer Reid, Prentiss, JJ, Hotchner, BAU, FBI, Crime Drama, The Fourth Season, television, DVD Review[/tags]

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One Response to “TV Box Set Review: Criminal Minds – The Fourth Season”

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