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Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Wednesday: Transportation.
Friday: Green living.

07 January 2011

Battle of the Crime Shows

My current favourite TV shows are NCIS and Criminal Minds. I have a hard time deciding between them, so I decided to do a little head-to-head. Here goes:



(photos from

Criminal Minds

Writing: I frequently feel like the writers at NCIS get bored before the end. We'll have a spectacular episode, they'll go to the final commercial with me anxious to find out how it ends... and then they'll do a clumsy wrap-up, leaving me feeling like all that tension they built up wasn't worth it. I can name about half-a-dozen episodes that have done this to me. Criminal Minds does not do that, at least not so badly that I feel cheated.
Advantage: Criminal Minds (1)

Plot: Criminal Minds has one plot. They get an invite, they go, they catch the bad guy (or gal), they come home. And some bits of their personal lives are sprinkled in along the way.
Advantage: NCIS (1)

Casting: NCIS has Mark Harmon; Criminal Minds has Thomas Gibson.
Advantage: tie (2 each)

Characters: A full slate of likable characters on either side, which makes it hard.
Gibbs v Hotch: Gibbs
Tony v Morgan: tie
Kate v Elle: Kate
McGee v Reid: Reid
Ziva v Emily: Emily
Abby v Garcia: tie
Jimmy v Kevin: Jimmy
Vance v Strauss: Vance
Ducky v Rossi: Ducky
Jenny v Gideon: tie
?? v JJ: JJ
Advantage: NCIS (3)

Cast Changes: Kate & Jenny out; Ziva & Vance in. Elle & Gideon out; Emily & Rossi in. But wait... JJ out. Emily's screen time reduced. If Criminal Minds changes one more character, I'm going to picket outside of CBS headquarters.
Advantage: NCIS (4)

Family Issues: Geez, there are so many. Tony's dad shipped him off to boarding school and then lost all their money. Ziva's dad almost got her killed. Gibbs & his dad... are making progress. McGee and Abby apparently com from loving, happy families. (Whoa! Weird!) Oh, and Gibbs has one dead wife, one dead daughter, and two living exes. And on the other side: Hotch's father abused him, and Hotch's workaholic tendencies ruined his marriage. And then his ex-wife was murdered while Hotch and his team listened. Morgan's father was killed in the line (but Morgan's family is otherwise happy and loving). Reid's dad ran out on them and his mum is in an institution. Emily's mother is a hyper-perfectionist/workaholic. Garcia drove away from her home one day and never looked back (and they apparently aren't too interested in her, either). JJ and Rossi have loving, happy families.
Advantage: Hard to say, really. Better call this one a tie. (5-3)

Reality check: There's a real-life NCIS. There's a real-life BAU. And the writers on both shows consult with real-life agents.
Advantage: tie (6-4)

Scenery: I don't know if Criminal Minds goes on location to film, or if they just have crazy-good sets. But the plot takes them all over the country, and their backgrounds are intensely believable. NCIS pretty much stays around DC, although the backdrop of the navy yard out the windows is nice.
Advantage: Criminal Minds (5)

Favourite Character: Criminal Minds has four characters-- Emily, Reid, Garcia, and Hotch-- who rotate as my favourite. NCIS has three-- Abby, McGee and Gibbs. Really, it comes down to Emily v Abby. SUCH a tough call, but at the end of the day, I think I'd rather be Emily than Abby.
Advantage: Criminal Minds (6)

Grins: Criminal Minds isn't very funny. And Hotch never smiles, which is a waste of Thomas Gibson's really charming smile, if you ask me.
Advantage: NCIS (7)

Tears: NCIS has had a few episodes (like, four) that have opened the floodgates. Criminal Minds usually manages it once a month.
Advantage: Criminal Minds (7)

Watchability: Good grief. It comes down to this. When I watch Criminal Minds, I get nervous about running outside alone. The stats are mind-bogglingly in my favour-- there are about 30 serial killers at any one time working in the US, and the chances of them choosing my neighbourhood are so very slim, when you calculate the number of neighbourhoods in the number of cities in the 50 states and divide by 30, but there you go: If they are trying to make me nervous, they have succeeded. NCIS does not have that effect on me.
Advantage: NCIS (8)

So, with a total of 8 to 7, NCIS wins as my favourite show. And now if you'll excuse me, I'm sure at least one of the two is on.

Do you watch NCIS or Criminal Minds? If so, let's talk! Favourite episode, favourite character, favourite moment?


....Petty Witter said...

Do you know for all I love my crime fiction, I can't seem to get interested in crime dramas. NCIS I catch up with every now and then but there are so many spin-offs I get confused as to who is who. Criminal Minds is a fairly recent thing to British tv (I think) so I may give this a watch sometime.

L.A. Colvin said...

It depends on my mood. Those two are "must watch" in our house. Criminal Minds has set a bar in my mind that only they can compete with. SO if they have one knock out show and then the next week is ho-hum I get a little peeved at them. Sometimes they can really drop the ball. NCIS however seems to run constant. They don't really have any shows that knoeck it out of the park for me but they also don't drop the ball. So they probably will always be tied in our house. BUT we also LOVE LOVE LOVE "The Mentalist".

a runners' life said...

NCIS rocks! I was so excited when a new season started here in Poland. Every Monday night I have to get a dose of it no matter what. Gibbs' character is great and often puts a smile on my face.

Su said...

@Petty: I'm the opposite; I watch TV dramas but can't get into crime fiction. And I can see why you'd get confused, because there are SO many crime shows. I catch the occasional episode of the CSIs or Law & Order, but these two are the only ones I watch consistently.

@LA: That's a good point about CM. They don't do the great episode-disappointing ending that NCIS does, but if their episodes are bad then they start off that way & don't get better. And we watched The Mentalist all last season, but then they changed nights! So now I never remember when it's on. :(

@Runner: We love Gibbs! I would hate to work for someone like him in real life, but on TV he's fun. :) And I love when he head-slaps Tony.

Grandpa said...

I seldom miss NCIS, but just starting to notice Criminal Minds.

One of the memorable episodes of NCIS for me was "R.I.P Director Sheppard", after which we were introduced to the new tooth-picking director.

In terms of script I like House and Bones (season finale here). Do you watch them?

erica and christy said...

I don't watch much TV (although SpongeBob is usually in the background as I write - 2 boys, yeah). But I have seen quite a bit of NCIS, just not in the last couple years. Isn't Tony still on it? You didn't list him as an mc.

The first (I'm pretty sure it was the first) Criminal Minds was something about a woman being caged, raped, and beaten. Something about that made me never want to see it, ever. (I'm sure it was well done. I just didn't want to watch it or anything like it.)

But NCIS LA has lots of really cool gadgets (and hot guys). I suddenly feel the need to watch more TV. :)

Su said...

@Grandpa: That was a good episode. I do like House & Bones, but don't watch them regularly.

@erica: I paired Tony with Morgan. Yep, he's still on it. And I like NCIS LA, but I admit I like Hettie more than the hot guys. It's interesting that you mention that episode from CM, though, because they mentioned in the special features once that a lot of people were put off by it because of the violence. The only thing is that there wasn't any on-screen violence in the show. Which I think indicates that the CM people are better at creating tension by suggestion than the people making slasher movies.