“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” is the TV equivalent of Donald Trump. In the same way Trump spouts jingoistic claptrap about Mexicans and other immigrants, “Beyond Borders” plays off Americans’ currently ramped up xenophobia.
The new series (10/9c March 16, CBS; 0 stars out of 4) rants non-stop about the dangers of traveling abroad, suggesting that Americans should remain within those border walls The Donald wants to erect.
Americans who get their passport stamped, the show suggests, are asking for it. In the premiere, one of the FBI agents investigating the kidnapping of two women in Thailand goes so far as to blame the victims.
“I remember those British backpackers were murdered there last summer,” she says. “I guess that didn’t stop our victims from visiting.”
No, it did not, maybe because these travelers are interested in experiencing other cultures and meeting the people of other nations.
Spun off CBS’s “Criminal Minds,” “Beyond Borders” follows the FBI’s International Response Team as they head to exotic locales including India and Egypt where apparently evil lurks around every corner for American tourists.
Jack Garrett (Gary Sinise) leads the team, which includes profiler Matthew Simmons (Daniel Henney), analyst Russ “Monty” Montgomery (Tyler James Williams) and medical examiner Mae Jarvis (Annie Funke). Cultural anthropologist Clara Seger (Alana De La Garza) joins the team in the premiere, but only after boring viewers with her long-winded explanations about the country of the week.
I’m not saying such cultural tidbits aren’t interesting, but surely they could be shared in a more organic fashion.
“Beyond Borders” shares all of the original show’s bad habits. It’s the same procedural drivel dressed up in multi-cultural costumes.
The crimes, often against women, are overly titillating (the two women gone missing in Thailand are hunted for sport). The FBI profilers are so preternaturally good at their jobs they seem to be able to read the unsubs’ minds. (By the way, if I ever hear “unsub” used in a TV series again it will be too soon.) Within seconds, techie Monty can provide a treasure trove of information to help the field agents.
And boy, do these characters love to share information. Facts and theories are spouted via an awkward expository style that had me yelling at the TV, “Stop talking and do something!”
When the team finally does get into the field, they’re doing so on a backlot in Los Angeles. You’d think that with an internationally set series, viewers might get a tourist’s view of the countries. They are shown briefly with stock footage.
Creator Erica Messer said at the TV Critics Association winter tour that crimes can happen anywhere and that the show’s producers “don’t want to scare anyone away from going to anywhere in the world.”
Considering the current national dialogue about immigrants and our borders, the ill-timed and irresponsible “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” could do exactly that.