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Chicago P.D.: Actual Physical Violence (2015)
Season 3, Episode 3
3/10
Too much junk
22 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Has every crime show done the hostage because no one listens trope? Has it ever really happened? It seems doubtful to me that any official agency would bargain like that.

Lindsay's mom is also a bit too much. I thought so in the last episode. I can see how someone would destroy themselves. I can see how a mom would put herself ahead of her daughter. But I find it hard to believe a mother would deliberately destroy her daughter's life especially if her daughter has some courage to stand up to her.

As is too often the case, Voigt colors outside the lines, big time. That's a given, but in this case it's another straw too much.

Of course it's only for the drama that the hopeless girl had to go into one of the most public yet confined spaces to blast her brains out. Yes that really makes sense even for a girl having a mental break.
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Chicago P.D.: The Number of Rats (2015)
Season 2, Episode 20
1/10
What happened?
22 October 2019
Crossovers suck in reruns. I have no idea what happened except the aftermath that is shown in the next episode. I don't even know if the suspect was caught, killed, whatever. I don't even know what show it was concluded on. Could have been L&O:SVU or one of the other Chicago ... trio. Just another case of money for the network being more important than serving the viewers.

It makes it worse that the victim is sympathetic.
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Medium: Who's That Girl (2009)
Season 6, Episode 2
2/10
Personal preference
20 October 2019
I'll admit that it is largely something personal, but I think it goes beyond that.

This show has never really defined any rules for what happens to Allison and the girls. In fact the the things that happen follow pretty fluid rules. Good fiction is based on a universe with rules. Although this isn't strictly sci-fi, when I was in high school, one of the first things I learned in a writing class was that good sci-fi establishes the rules by which the story functions and sticks to them. This show doesn't do that.

Further, if we have a case where any spirit can body-snatch Ariel, by precedence, that means that any of the women in the family could have that happen at any time. What about Cooper? There are others in Allison's past that could represent a threat. In fact, it becomes pretty likely that it would happen again, and apparently there is nothing they can do to prevent it. Whether it happens again is arbitrary on the part of the writers. That is not good fiction.
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Medium: Bring Me the Head of Oswaldo Castillo (2009)
Season 5, Episode 19
4/10
More junk
20 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Where was the tumor three episodes ago (Man in the Mirror) when she came into the hospital in a cross between asleep and a coma? In that condition, they certainly would have done an MRI.

So Joe has a job and they aren't destitute, so they have to come up with something horrible. We must torture the DuBois family. So it's both a tumor and a future prediction her family will be slaughtered.

Of course the cliffhanger is even worse. The final montage makes me wonder if the series was in jeopardy of being cancelled and I checked and it appears so. But we know there were two more seasons. I'm not surprised it was in danger because much of season 5 was terrible - it was trying to be something that just wasn't where it excelled. Two late season 5 episodes (not this one) gave a glimmer of that excellence. (Man in the Mirror and Talented Ms Boddicker)
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Medium: The Man in the Mirror (2009)
Season 5, Episode 16
9/10
Finally
20 October 2019
The old formula is back after a string of failures trying to be something this show is not. No gruesome torture or murder of young women. No poverty stricken DuBois family. The question is will they stick with this formula or something like it for the rest of the season into the future.

Quirky. Definitely quirky. Jeffrey Tambor was perfect for this role and it probably wasn't a difficult role for him, but that doesn't make it any less well done. The story was great.
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1/10
Not just moral ambiguity but distortion of the law
19 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Even a simple internet search shows that no contract takes precedence over criminal acts. So they are stretching things there.

Then there are the drug abuse issues and the brief mention of suicide in the previous episode.

The writers can't seem to resist throwing out these presumed gray areas to cause the DuBois family more grief. They have taken a good show with some quirky humor and turned it into a morbid commentary on social issues with gruesome murder and torture thrown in at various times.

Caitlyn's last diatribe to Allison is another legal joke. Never hold up if Allison challenged it. Somehow her comeback was equally lame.
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Medium: The Devil Inside, Part One (2009)
Season 5, Episode 11
3/10
There are no rules to this
19 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
For years, Allison has been talking as if the dreams were given to her for a purpose, a good purpose. Without putting it in so many words, her implication has been that the purpose was a righteous higher power.

Yet there have been times when the dreams have been sent by a dead person. This is one of them.

So which is it? You can't have both. If it's the latter, and as often as not that dead person is evil or at least has evil intent, then not only is the former not true, but that destroys the credibility of all of them. Sure, some of them might turn out to be right, but how can she know. End of show. But it isn't. How can that be?

And the show continues to play with plot lines that at least partially belong on dark shows like Criminal Minds.

(I happened to start this show at or near the end and there were some great episodes along with some like this, so that's why I keep watching.)
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Medium: Then... and Again (2009)
Season 5, Episode 10
2/10
Just too inconsistent
19 October 2019
"In my experience, innocent men don't plead guilty." Not true. They do it all the time. Prisons are full of such people usually because they were coerced. "If you ever interfere with an investigation..." Hey, she told you where the body was. That's interfering? Sounds more like helping. Throwing a woman who is nine months pregnant in jail is going to look real good on the news, and on this show, his office leaks news stories like a sieve. With no other evidence against her, it would be difficult to make any charges stick. There are enough people who would buy a physic's story.

It doesn't help that Allison is an idiot the way she is shooting off her mouth emotionally. Even hysterically.

The story had potential. It was an interesting new angle.
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Medium: Truth Be Told (2009)
Season 5, Episode 8
5/10
Disturbing
19 October 2019
This is not the show that hooked me in the first couple seasons. The crimes are getting more disturbing, although that is only partially true in this episode. What I find more problematic is how it seems that the writers are going more and more into morally ambiguous conflicts in the stories.

I don't know if this one ranks highly in the questionable category. The Cooper episodes were much more disturbing and there are others. It seems that is the trend of this season. i was hooked emotionally by Julie's dilemma early on. It seems cruel to press her after what happened to her, but then that's part of the moral ambiguity. It gets more complicated as the story progresses.
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Medium: A Cure for What Ails You (2008)
Season 4, Episode 13
6/10
More poverty stricken DuBois family
18 October 2019
I've said this before, but it's getting old.

I watch this show for quirky humor in a crime setting. I expect crime to be what it is, but I still want this show to be more than that. People's lives are depressing enough with their daily problems, but I don't want to watch it in my TV shows.

I will give the episode credit for Joe's creativity in solving Marie's minor issue, but that's not enough. How the investigation comes together in the end is clever also.
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Medium: Wicked Game: Part One (2008)
Season 4, Episode 9
2/10
They should have stuck to what made it good
18 October 2019
If I want to watch sadistic pyschopaths tormenting and holding women for years, then I'd watch Criminal Minds and I often do, but I don't watch this show for that kind of material. I watch this show for quirky scifi/fantasy with some frequent humor.

I'm also getting tired of the unemployed Joe and poverty stricken DuBois family which has gone one for this entire season. More downer and it bleeds over one episode after another this season starting late in the last. Again, that's not why I came to this show and stuck with it.

I have to admit, there was a slightly interesting twist, or a couple actually, but I figured one of them out fairly early on.
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Medium: But for the Grace of God (2008)
Season 4, Episode 2
9/10
Now they're back on track (mostly)
17 October 2019
After breaking with what they do best for the end of last season and the first episode of this one, the show went back to what they do best - quirky. I also like when Ariel is a big part of the story.

There is a new paradigm. In some ways, it makes more sense that Allison doesn't have to legally justify herself as a source since Cynthia is taking the credit. But on the other hand, since her dreams jump around randomly to victims and this lends itself more to a more centralized authority.

On a personal preference which has no bearing on my rating, I prefer Jesse Schram as young Allison to JLaw. In my mind, Schram fits Allison's personality a little better. It's possible that Allison became different as she grew older, but the time frame each was playing was more or less the same.
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Medium: Everything Comes to a Head (2007)
Season 3, Episode 22
2/10
Way too long
17 October 2019
This is ridiculous. The futility has gone on far too long. A couple of episodes, maybe 3 would have been fine. Episode after episode of futility. It's bad enough when Allison is successfully flying under the radar because even the people who know what she can do are sometime skeptical. Now that is raised several notches and even though she is compelled to help, it is insane to keep trying the same thing and expect different results. A little taste of it is one thing, but they keep going on and on.

I don't watch this show for serious crime drama. This show grabbed me because it's quirky and kind of fantasy. It is a mistake for this show to try to compete on that playing field.

It is additionally stupid that Allison's track record apparently means nothing.
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Medium: And Then (2008)
Season 4, Episode 1
2/10
Way too long
17 October 2019
This is ridiculous. The futility has gone on far too long. A couple of episodes, maybe 3 would have been fine. Episode after episode of futility. It's bad enough when Allison is successfully flying under the radar because even the people who know what she can do are sometime skeptical. Now that is raised several notches and even though she is compelled to help, it is insane to keep trying the same thing and expect different results. A little taste of it is one thing, but they keep going on and on.

I don't watch this show for serious crime drama. This show grabbed me because it's quirky and kind of fantasy. It is a mistake for this show to try to compete on that playing field.

It is additionally stupid that Allison's track record apparently means nothing.
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Chicago P.D.: Say Her Real Name (2015)
Season 2, Episode 17
4/10
Justice by any means
15 October 2019
The end justifies it. TV writers love this stuff and apparently so do viewers. An episode or two ago, the two patrol officers survived incredible stupidity and equally incredible circumstances. In this one, the Sarge and crew keep their jobs despite following a course that was guaranteed to cost them. Other shows push this envelope to varying degrees, but Chicago PD tears it to pieces.

it all makes me feel so safe.
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Chicago P.D.: What Do You Do (2015)
Season 2, Episode 15
2/10
IDIOT
15 October 2019
Apparently, viewers like stupidity to the absolute extreme. What could be more stupid than a beat cop going into a completely unknown building having lost both weapons and radios knowing the perp has at least 3 guns. Game over. Cops dead. At least they should be. (She says later that she's afraid to die which makes her even more stupid.)

After that it the scenarios only get more stupid, at least for the captured cops. Stupid on top of stupid. They both should have been dead at least three times over.

And Roman after being shot and kicked, well yeah, that's believable. Meanwhile Burgess looks more like a sissy at times than a cop.
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Criminal Minds: The Company (2012)
Season 7, Episode 20
10/10
A gem after a string of hohum episodes
12 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Since episode 12, I have been waiting for the magic to resurface and this episode does it in style. It is more than a just a Morgan special. It has so many good elements.

It goes without saying that the villain is so detestable, but this is a good topic to bring out that emotion. In some ways it would seem like the torture he inflicted was mild compared to women having joints permanently dislocated, or toes cut off, or an arm chopped off or worse, but one only has to consider how many men there are at least partly like him, and how many women suffer the loss of their personhood in a lasting relationship and even marriage to recognize that this case is also worthy of the CM horror hall of fame.

The viewer is pulled emotionally by Cindi's plight, but I didn't think it took much acting on the part of Shanola Hampton. Nevertheless, she delivered the character and the heartache.

The story was great. The viewer thinks things are going one way (except if you are watching the clock and know too much time is left), and then bam. Why? Not only is the team asking but so is the viewer. I thought the way they got the key information from the lawyer was a bit too easy, but otherwise the scenario is moving right along.

Then the very last scene caps off the episode like icing on the cake. Classic CM.
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Criminal Minds: The Edge of Winter (2014)
Season 9, Episode 19
9/10
A Morgan episode
5 October 2019
Morgan is featured in this episode along with the witness, Daria, and the rest of the team has a far smaller role. Of course this makes sense since much of the story is Morgan interviewing Daria.

This is a difficult story. CM is nothing if not most often creepy and disturbing in showing the ways sadistic people treat other human beings. This episode finds a new way to emphasize that and in some ways it is more disturbing than usual. I would say memorably so.

Through most of the episode, things are moving along slowly and it looks like it will be a subpar one. Certainly Aasha Davis is doing a good job in a difficult role and as it progresses toward the end, the viewer becomes more and more appalled at her experience. And then there is a twist that ratchets everything up tenfold.

If you like disturbing, then this should be one of the best. For me it was too disturbing so I can't give it 10 stars..
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Criminal Minds: 200 (2014)
Season 9, Episode 14
8/10
JJ episode
4 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I really like that we learn more about what JJ did in the year away. And Will is a saint to know what he knows and not be worried or jealous. I hated (in the way you are supposed to in a good episode) what was done to Matt and especially JJ. It was good how the story lead JJ to the truth and the team to JJ.

I can't give the episode a full endorsement for a couple of reasons. One is a reality check. If JJ entered the panic code, how can the system still give the data?

A bigger issue is a pet peeve I have with shows like this and the two NCIS spinoffs. On TV, government agents go "off the reservation" constantly. Well you don't keep you job if you do that, especially if you act contrary to a direct order from the high honcho (was it the Director or the Secretary - I missed that). Even if you save the day doing it, you get punished somehow and heavily punished. TV writers and viewers seem to think it's OK, but really it is not a good thing for the overall picture.
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Criminal Minds: The Black Queen (2014)
Season 9, Episode 12
8/10
Suspicious voting
4 October 2019
As of this writing in October 2019, literally just over half the star ratings are 1 star or the worst rating possible.

1 star ratings are almost always based on anger at something and it is usually one single point rather than the episode or show as a whole. And when you see an unusually large distribution of 1 star, especially if the bulk of the ratings are much higher, then there is usually some ballot box stuffing going on. It happens often enough on IMDb.

I'm at something of a loss to see what the trigger for this might be. Is it the sexual harassment issue? Maybe. If it is negative reaction to the fact Garcia and Morgan have that going far too much (which is probably true), then why punish this episode? If it is a reaction to the process of an employer policing such actions, that is more understandable but it is an unfair reaction. Such policing is necessary even if some people think it is difficult to apply fairly. For a show that has had unsubs do almost anything horrible imaginable, and some things even unimaginable, it is hard to imagine what else might be causing this rating reaction.

I enjoyed this episode. I enjoyed learning more about Garcia even if some contradictions to earlier episodes resulted. I loved her entrance as Black Queen. There was some decent profiling.
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Criminal Minds: The Replicator (2013)
Season 8, Episode 24
6/10
OK
2 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
If you've read any of my reviews on episodes with the most notorious unsubs, you have seen that I hate what I call the "omnipotent criminal (unsub)". My biggest reason for that is because usually these unsubs are inexplicably godlike. With the Replicator, at least they made his "omnipotence" partially explicable. He is a wealthy insider, so he has access to things that outsiders don't have access to. His prowess is still a bit much, but with enough smoke and mirrors, it's not as outlandish. One objection is how he could have maintained his position for so long and have been so psychotic. People in those high profile positions go through regular psychological reviews and I think even lie detector tests that are quite invasive.

This unsub is definitely as psychotic as CM's worst unsubs. But after that, he is just boring. The story does give us pieces of the mystery unfolding in a suspenseful way.

While watching our heroes go through his house, my first thought was why the white collar agents rather than the SWAT people? (Actually, my mind often asks that when our heroes lead the charge into dangerous situations.) We see later that there are plenty of other agents of all types surrounding the place.

While Blake is the center of the unsub's attention, I am still not impressed with her contributions to crime solving. It's true, she does contribute emotionally, but not in any outstanding way.

Many episodes end with touching moments. Funerals often lead to team social gatherings to show that they are a Family. But I just couldn't get into memorializing Strauss. I never liked her. For one thing she was inconsistent and came off as weak at times.
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Criminal Minds: Mosley Lane (2010)
Season 5, Episode 16
9/10
Hope
2 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Oddly,, because of messed up cable scheduling of reruns on multiple networks, "Nanny Dearest" is the last episode I've watched, even just today, and it has some similarities.

Ann Cusack does a wonderful job as one victim's mother, actually a victim herself. Just like Tara in Nanny Dearest, Sarah works through crushing circumstances and her bravery triumphs when needed. She gives life to the story of the victim and of her emotions.

And JJ once again supplies her mother's heart to the team as a guiding beacon of hope for team and victims.

While I wasn't super impressed by detective aspects of the story, Cusack's character held my attention until the last scene or two when emotions were unleashed.
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Criminal Minds: Nanny Dearest (2013)
Season 8, Episode 21
9/10
Emorional
1 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Like CM at it's best, there is a ton of emotion in this episode. This show always has badly abused victims, but Yara Martinez really brings to life the aftermath of that abuse as she plays Tara, the one who escaped but not before a lot of suffering of her own. The plot leads her on a journey from adamantly resistant to giving into the needs of the latest family despite an obvious continuing torture on Tara's part. The viewer can almost understand her resistance and then cheers for her as she bravely agrees to help. But the story isn't over and there is plenty of room for tears through the final couple of scenes. Could it be that Melody brings Tara some healing?

The more I see JJ, the more impressed I am. I have long considered Spence the standout in a pack of over-achievers, but JJ continues to show not just a gentle touch and an inner strength, but also the ability to translate that into physical prowess. Amazing shot, JJ. She was also a big factor in getting help from Tara.

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for a spotlight on Blake. She's not invisible, but I'd have to rank her as the giving the least contribution of any of the team. and that applies to most of her run so far.

I like that there is a little less emphasis in this episode on giving the unsub screen time. There is just enough to reveal his cruelty. For me, I think that is the way I like it. Let's see more of the heroes, especially if they are not regulars, and less time spent following the unsub around.
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Criminal Minds: JJ (2010)
Season 6, Episode 2
7/10
That's two (or is it three)
30 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
If it were 3 "strikes", we would be done. Somehow, despite the next big mistake also, CM survived. By this point in 2019, this sorry time for CM show runners has been much discussed and later events have proved their error. They learned reluctantly, and not very well since they continue to shuffle team members in and out right up to the present. Seaver would follow JJ and she was another weak character except for a couple of episodes. Blake was a stronger character, but didn't have many stand out moments. CBS stated they wanted to "refresh", but if anything, most of the rest of this season and next is duller, and ironically, Prentiss was key to some of the exceptions.

It could not have happened in 2019. At the point of this episode, the show runners had demonstrated their inability to handle strong women characters and possibly even a disrespect for them. Elle was mostly invisible for her full season and only became significant by becoming a negative character in season 2. It's strange that the episode prior to this was a real tribute to JJ, and she had strong impact to the team in this one also. She was partly instrumental in the hail mary that saved the victim, not to mention her influence with the family.

I find the plot explanation for her leaving to be contrary to what I would expect in that world. The kind of job JJ was moving to was supposed to be high profile. Candidates would be stopping at nothing to get the job and there must have been dozens of good candidates. So some mysterious higher pay grade, executive branch person decides to force someone who doesn't want the job. That sounds backwards. I would expect that any candidate who even blinks or pauses before saying yes would be rejected when they are at this level.

As to the case story, there is a bunch of profiling and posturing that basically leads nowhere and suddenly a helicopter flies 70 miles out into the ocean at night and finds the victim? (Are there buoys 70 miles out?) As I already implied JJ was the only real standout team member in this story.
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Criminal Minds: The Longest Night (2010)
Season 6, Episode 1
10/10
Storytelling supreme
30 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
(Preface background: This is at least my second time through watching CM and due to erratic cable syndication schedules, there is almost no logical order to how I am re-watching and then reviewing.)

Some episodes are just episodes. In them, there is a story, but not quite a Story. We are used to say 3 stories a night, 6 nights a week (maybe 7). But we long for a real Story. This was one.

It has a villain. Tim Curry is the kind of villain that goes down in lore. His acting brings the character to life. The viewer comes to hate him as much as Morgan does. And you notice I talk about the villain as Tim Curry, not Billy Flynn. Curry does that much to personify him.

Ellie stands in the place which might be called a damsel in distress, if that weren't so anti-PC. It's OK though, I think, because she is smart and courageous and even belligerent, and since she is a kid, it is not an insult to call her that. Isabella Murad does it so well. I would say she is the star, except that this episode had so many stars.

Morgan personifies our hate and he ends up being the hero who confronts the villain, but wait, who rescued the damsel? Not Morgan.

Oh JJ. Bravo, bravo. (Should it be "brava"?) In a series that has had a hard time showing us strong women in earlier years, JJ steps up and rescues the damsel. And how does she do it? She does it as a mom. Is there any mortal stronger than a mom? Not today.

I didn't always think all the elements made sense, but life doesn't make sense. Psychopaths don't make sense and certainly this one doesn't. And sometimes sense doesn't do the saving.

Yes, this is possibly the best, or at least one of the top 5 episodes of CM, certainly to this point in the series. 100 may be more memorable because of it's sadness and consequences, but this episode is better. It is certainly better storytelling. At the end of a review on Zugzwant (season 8), which I rewatched and reviewed before this episode, I ask if sadness and tragedy are more profound than victory or love. Perhaps this story answers that question in the negative.
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