Criminal Minds: Season 3 – DVD Review

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Since getting into the reviewing game about two years ago now, I’ve been introduced to numerous crime dramas. My limit used to sit at merely Law & Order: Criminal Intent with the occasional episode of SVU thrown in there from time to time. It has now been revealed to me that there are a great number of crime drama series out there that follow the simple formula but add a subtle little touch of uniqueness to make it stand apart from others. NCIS goes into the evils that are hidden in our Naval soldiers. CSI looks into the secretive and forensic side of things showing all the details. And Criminal Minds steps over the line and does plenty of things to differentiate itself from the crowd.

Criminal Minds takes an interesting approach to the crime drama as they have a lot of the same qualities that others do. Each episode starts off with some sort of crime or particular case being presented to the team, and they then set out to solve it. That of course is what every series like this one does. But each one must have some sort of unique quality that separates them from the pack or else it’d be senseless to watch more then one. The niche that Criminal Minds brings to the table is that it focuses on serial killers.

In a show that deals constantly with murderers, the pace and level of each episode is raised from the start. You’re never witnessing some petty crime or simple robbery attempt with a criminal that got away and is on the run with a few hundred bucks. These are serious crimes with people dead. Families dead. And if the rare episode comes around where someone doesn’t die, then there is a disturbing situation such as a bank robber forcing his victims to strip before him and perform sex acts against their will. There is never a dull moment.

The first thing to note is that Criminal Minds gets another major cast shakeup to start off the third season as special agent James Gideon (Mandy Patinkin) is on his way out. He tried taking one more case after a close personal friend was murdered and he comes to the realization that he just can’t do it. He can no longer have an unbiased look and opinion when trying to point out and find a suspect because Gideon knows that his mind will always be clouded over now. Stepping into his place is a very worthy replacement in special agent David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) who fits in like he’s been there since the pilot episode. Even though it does take him a while to get accustomed to his teammates including Dr. Spencer Reid, special agent Emily Prentiss, special agent Derek Morgan, special agent Jennifer Jareau; he does his job well and knows what is required of him in his position. Mantegna is a great actor that has a certain quality about him which makes him seem so serious and believable so he is a welcome addition to the BAU.

One of the things that has Criminal Minds continuing to keep my interest is how far the series is willing to take things. Sure you see a fair share of murders on every crime drama out there today, but you don’t get the gruesomeness that the BAU team sees. There are buildings full of dead bodies, mutilations, and even cannibalism for them to sift through as well as tons of blood and extremely smart criminals who know how to keep their identity a well kept secret. Then there is the changing of locales to keep things fresh and new. In the third season you’ll go along with the BAU team as they head to Miami, New York, Denver, Portland, Los Angeles, and other fun places. It’s fun because there are new surroundings for them to interact with and track down criminals in which almost makes it appear as if Criminal Minds is two or three different series instead of one. Not a single episode from this season will disappoint and the truly spectacular episodes like “Penelope,” “3rd Life,” “Lo-Fi,” and “Lucky” will have you begging for more when it’s all over.


Disc One:

Doubt: The team investigates a killer who is targeting women at a college. But after a body is found while their suspect is in custody, the agents question their methods.

In Name And Blood: A serial killer abducts women in public places by using his young son as bait. Meanwhile, Prentiss resigns and Hotch asks for a transfer.

Scared To Death: People new to Portland who have no social ties are quickly disappearing. A psychiatrist may be recording their levels of fear before killing them.

Children Of The Dark: In Denver, home invasions suddenly turn deadly, culminating in the murder of entire families. And two young men from the same foster home are suspects.

Disc Two:

Seven Seconds: An investigation becomes a nightmare for the BAU as they profile family members and race against time to locate a girl who was abducted from a mall.

About Face: Hotch and his team search for a murderer who scares his victims with flyers that declare “Have You Seen Me?” Legendary agent David Rossi joins the BAU.

Identity: Four women have been kidnapped and murdered, but their killer committed suicide. Now Rossi thinks he may have had a partner who is continuing his work.

Lucky: The unit pursues a cannibalistic serial killer, leading Morgan to questions his faith. Penelope Garcia believes she has finally met the man of her dreams.

Disc Three:

Penelope: As Garcia fights for her life, the search for her attacker leads the others to believe her assailant could be in law enforcement – and knew of her particular job.

True Night: The BAU travels to Los Angeles to investigate gang-related killings that might possibly involve a famous comic book artist who is spiraling out of control.

This is an amazing episode that is done in an incredibly great way. You’ll understand it when you see it so I won’t spoil it for you.

Birthright: The team suspects the son of a serial killer is behind the mutilation murders of young women, so they bring in his father’s original abductee to help find him.

3rd Life: When a teenage girl is found murdered and her best friend is abducted, the BAU suspects one of their fathers, until a long-kept secret is revealed.

Disc Four:

Limelight: The disturbing contents of a self-storage unit brings the team to Philadelphia, where an ambitious female agent, a fan of Rossi’s, tries to take over the case.

Damaged: While Hotch and Reid interview a death-row inmate, Rossi continues his investigation into two unsolved murders that have plagued him for twenty years.

A Higher Power: A series of unrelated suicides suddenly start to look related to the BAU. It seems a serial killer is preying upon the grieving victims of a deadly fire.

Elephant’s Memory: Reid personally identifies with a young high school kid who suffered at the hands of bullies all his life and who is now on a killing spree in Texas.

Disc Five:

In Heat: As Garcia enjoys her new romance, “JJ” tries to keep her current romance hidden from the team, as the BAU searches for a serial killer in steamy Miami Beach.

The Crossing: Hotch and Rossi try to determine if a woman who murdered her husband was battered, while the others search for a determined stalker who crossed state lines.

Tabula Rasa: After a suspected serial killer wakes up from a coma, his case is reopened. But now he claims to have amnesia, so he may not go to prison for his crimes.

Lo-Fi: The BAY team travels to New York City to catch a serial killer, but then learns there may be more then one. Also, Agent Jareau announces that she’s pregnant.

The episodes are shown in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen format and look great. All episodes are bright when they need to be and the darker scenes are never black and fully in shadow. The high definition that the episodes aired transfers almost perfectly to the DVDs.

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and also are really good. A lot of the mood in this series is set by the music which is heard really well with the surround sound. Any gunshots, explosions, and dialogue are never overpowered and everything is heard clearly and loudly.

Deleted Scenes – Five different episodes have an extra scene or two that was cut from the final production. Not bad, and all are worth checking out.

From Script To Screen: “True Night” – This is a behind-the-scenes look at the graphic novel-themed episode “True Night.” It not only looks at Frankie Muniz and the great way he performed as a guest star here, but also behind the scenes and how they made a comic book come to life but still look the same. It runs twelve minutes and twenty-five seconds and is well worth watching because the episode was superb and its fun seeing how they made it all happen.

Profile: “Rossi/Mantegna” – This is an in-depth look at one of the newest characters on the show and the man who plays him. In total, the feature runs seven minutes and forty-eight seconds.

“Shemar Moore: Criminal Minds‘ Wild Ride” – This is a short feature at five minutes and forty-four seconds, but it details how most of the cast and crew get together to help fight multiple sclerosis. They even go on bike rides as benefits to fight the disorder.

Gag Reel – Five minutes and fourteen seconds of flubbed lines, people tripping, and some practical jokes. There is really nothing too funny here.

Killer Roles – A great look at all the different guest stars who have shown up as the villains/criminals on the show. There is more to it though as it details why these criminals are doing the things they do. It’s a really neat look at the meanings behind their madness and what causes them to kill or rob or maim or whatever. This feature runs fifteen minutes and fifty-one seconds.

The Criminal Element: The Making Of Criminal Minds, Season 3 – Cast and crew go over how it was during the third season as opposed to the first two. They go into detail on how it was when Mandy Patinkin left the show and some newer faces came onto the set. Many were expecting ratings to fall after the first couple episodes, but the fans and viewers stuck around no matter who left and who came in so it was a welcome surprise for them all. Backstage cameras take a look at life on the set and filming the different episodes and becomes rather basic. This feature lasts just over twenty minutes.

Criminal Minds continues to be a series that keeps my attention and makes me want to keep watching from episode to episode. The higher levels of violence and gore are almost on the same lines as horror films which are my weakness and something that I’ve always loved. It also makes me wonder how close to the line they are going to get before crossing it into the land of what can no longer air on cable television. I’ll tell you what though; as long as they keep up this kind of pace and creativity, then they’ll have me as a viewer. For a television DVD set, there are way more special features then I expected, but even though that is a change from most other sets; it doesn’t mean they’re perfect. While the special features are alright, not all of them are too interesting and most of them are rather short. Good stuff, but nothing that would make me care about getting the DVD set for anything more then the episodes themselves. I urge newcomers to check out seasons one and two first because there are a few running storylines in Criminal Minds and you may find yourself a tad lost if you start with season three. That’s not to say you can’t follow along from episode to episode, but you’ll be missing out a bit. Other then that, this is a great series that would have received a higher score if not for the shotty extras, but the episodes are what you should really be buying it for.

Oh one complaint…they still say “unsub” way too much.


Paramount presents Criminal Minds: Season 3. Created by: Jeff Davis. Starring: Thomas Gibson, Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook, Kristin Vangsness, Joe Mantegna. Running time: 860 minutes on 5 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: September 16, 2008. Available at