[REVIEW]: Criminal Minds (Korea)

My friends… it causes me great distress to greet you under such grave circumstances. I don’t think anyone is going to understand just how much it physically pains me to write this post. I’m sitting here with a heavy heart thinking about all that could have been, had the right directors, producers, writers, and network been in charge of handling this project. I’ll be honest, the moment Lee Jun Ki announced that he’d be taking on this project, I was stressed, disappointed, and scared. Remakes have a pretty shitty track record in Korea as far as I’m concerned, and when you mess with an American show as successful and well known as Criminal Minds, you’re asking for trouble. I hoped and prayed he would decline, but he accepted—and thus my stomach so violently churned with each passing day as the premiere date approached. I can’t blame the man for wanting to take a stab at something new, modern, and action packed after having been submersed in the world of sageuk for so long. I was so frightened, not because I doubted LJK’s skills, but rather, the ability of tvn and the production team to successfully pay homage to the original show (which I have not seen a single season of by the way) without utterly destroying it. Prepare yourself, this review will be an upsetting read for any LJK fan like myself.

[Be ForewarnedSpoilers Below].

Major Issues:

Sloppy, Choppy Editing/Transitions/CGI: Let’s start with the basics, shall we? Right off the bat, this show delivered some absolutely horrendous editing. I was honestly offended at just how poorly this show was slapped together. Many of the transitions between scenes were crude, abrupt, jarring, illogical—you name it. There was no sense of flow whatsoever. I don’t think I ever witnessed a clean transition while watching this mess. One of the worst faults was the insulting ‘day to night’ transition scene they seemed to be so in love with, since they kept recycling it over and over again. It was less than 30 seconds worth of footage, strikingly ugly, and not to mention, quite useless more than half the time. And let’s get one thing straight. That CGI explosion in the first episode was downright disrespectful. That’s how artificial it looked. I was laughing in my rage because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Even worse was the way they kept superimposing the detectives onto different backgrounds to make it look like they were there at the crime scene while they described some of the details of what happened. There was one scene in the earlier episodes where they did this with Chief Kang and I was honestly horrified that they thought that was passable. When the CGI wasn’t giving me a headache, the 100+ random shots of the NCI building were. Actually, I couldn’t tell if that thing was real or fake. It looked extremely phony to me but I’ll let you judge the screen caps yourselves. I don’t know what was going on with this. Did they think we were going to to forget what the building looked like? Did it even matter what the building looked like? Were they trying to make sure we wouldn’t forget the name of the investigation team? I mean, really… what in the hell was the point of all those building shots? What a complete waste of screen time. Finally, I hated how this show always seemed to end in the strangest places. They really enjoyed trying to squeeze in a case and a half per show and I found it disruptive and unsatisfying. That’s not to say this method can’t work, because I think it worked quite well for Voice, but unlike Criminal Minds, Voice had its shit together in terms of storytelling and pacing.

Nonexistent Structure + Shitty Writing = Wreckage: The show’s biggest achilles heel was its complete and utter disregard of structure. There was no foundation for this show to rely on in order to keep it from crumbling. Any chances it had of saving itself relied on the Nadeul River (I’ll talk about this one in more detail later) and Reaper cases, but both of those were dreadfully botched. Both of these, or at least one of them, should have been the overarching case. Personally, I believe they both should have. The Reaper case ended up being the chosen one, however, it was executed so poorly, I’m still at a loss for words. Despite being the main case, they waited until the very last episode and a half to bring the Reaper back into the picture, which was just ghastly. Everything was rushed to the point where it felt like such a joke. Episode nineteen was undeniably a total waste of our time. It was basically a recap, that none of us asked for, of the entire previous eighteen episodes. And it’s not like these eighteen episodes were so tantalizingly spectacular that I wanted to relive them again in the semi-finale. As a result of the misused Reaper case, the show appeared to absent of any set purpose or goal. When watching, I had no idea where we were going or what the end game was. I found myself constantly thinking, “what is the point of all this?”

Even more mind boggling was the omission of sequential order. It didn’t feel like there was a set arrangement for the episodes. Most of them could have been swapped with others and you wouldn’t have even noticed. That’s how you know you have a shitty story. If you can rearrange the episodes in any pattern you like without it disrupting the flow of the show, there’s something tremendously wrong. Each episode should have been built off the previous one, forming a steady progression toward a clear, well established purpose. A story needs a beginning, middle and end. This show gave us a big clump of situations and details that were far from coherent. Furthermore, the show’s pacing was off. Some episodes focused on one case, others on a case and a half. That would have been fine if the cases were compelling and wrapped up sufficiently, but they always felt so half-assed. The moment the case was solved we were watching some mediocre team bonding moments and hopping right into the next one without any kind of all encompassing frame story to knit it all together. As I mentioned, that final episode and a half were left to deal with the Reaper. Talk about rushed. They mopped that up faster than I had time to process it. What infuriated me to my core was the way the criminals and cases were presented. These writers are clueless when it comes to delivering a gripping narrative. There wasn’t a single case where I was surprised or unsuspecting of the criminal. Predictability killed this show. Every episode, they somehow managed to suck the suspense right out of the storytelling. I’d be five minutes in, know the criminal’s identity (thanks to the blatant camera hints), and have to watch these so-called profilers and detectives fumble around for the next fifty-five minutes in order to figure it out for themselves. Abominable! Who wants to sit there when you already know the killer before the half-way mark. I don’t know why they gave such obvious hints so early into the episodes. They clearly thought revealing the criminals to the audience and having criminal-centric episodes would draw us in, but it had the total opposite effect. I wanted mystery. I wanted suspense. I wanted to be guessing who it was up until the very end. I wanted to be surprised, and then have these profilers shock and impress me by explaining how they put the clues together. Instead we had a ragtag team struggling to find killers (whose identities we already knew from the get go) and putting on a lame profiler performance in the interrogation room for about three minutes at the end of each case before dismissing us with some overused quote.

All in all, this show desperately needed to take a hint from other crime shows like Voice or Tunnel. Both of these crime shows knew how to properly unfold each case in a gripping, compelling manner, that kept you guessing and invested. Even if they too were guilty of some shitty police work, they at least knew how to utilize an overarching case to tie the individual stories together, and create an unmistakable, underlying purpose for the show and its characters.

Stale Characters Caricatures: One of the most disappointing aspects of this drama was its serving of banal characters with no depth whatsoever; most felt more like caricatures than characters. This also resulted in a lack of team chemistry. The team’s rapport felt completely off. All of the little scenes they shared together—dinner at Ki Hyungs, drinks at the bar, Na Na’s birthday—were incredibly suffocating. They looked so fabricated and inauthentic that I couldn’t bare to watch. These team moments were always tossed into the mix in little four to five minute vignettes between cases, as if they knew they had to throw something in there to make sure we knew they were actually a team. Had they developed the characters more, they could have found more ways and reasons for them to bond. Most outrageous was the fact that Sun Woo and Hyun Joon, who grew up in the same town, shared the same friend, and the same school—never actually got close. That Nadeul case should have been the foundation for their trust, but instead, they tossed that opportunity aside when they closed the case in the sloppiest way possible.

Let’s start with Hyun Joon. He seemed to have potential in the first episode. We get his tragic backstory during his EOD days, and later we learn more about the trauma inflicted upon him by the Nadeul River case. However, we never actually get a full picture, or any focused development on how this all affects him as a person, nor what motivates him, or anything related to who he is outside his NCI persona. It’s all told on such a rudimentary level, that it makes it difficult to connect or empathize with him. Sure I felt bad that he lost his best friend, his first love, and even his brother (to a certain extent since he’s unresponsive and bedridden at a hospital). But, these elements of his past were never properly fleshed out in a way that brought the inner workings of his character to light. I never figured out who Hyun Joon was: as a person, as a brother, as a lover, etc. I just knew him as the detective who was always determined to save lives and catch criminals. He was stubborn, but clearly had a softer side. I longed for more scenes of him outside the NCI setting, and I longed for scenes that would reveal more about his desires, fears, or secrets; anything, just anything to give him that authentic feel. Everything about him felt so artificial. He was the jack-of-all-trades: the EOD specialist, the detective, the profiler, the moral compass, the nice guy, the handsome co-worker, the magician, a fill-in waiter at his best friend’s parents’ restaurant, etc. It was hard to pin down exactly what his purpose was, and having him be excellent at everything he participated in only perpetuated how unrealistic and impossible it is for a character like him to exist in the real world.

Let me clarify that I am indeed a fan of Moon Chae Won. However, I’d be doing myself a disservice to pretend she was actually decent in the role, when in reality, she floundered in it. Hear me out before you get upset. The first few episodes made it quite evident that she was struggling and uncomfortable. This was a new genre for her, so I understand why this may have been tough. One of the issues I had with her was the stiff manner in which she delivered her lines. It was like she was speaking with a mouth full of cotton balls. It was super bizarre. Also, she provided probably the worst representation I’ve seen of the “outwardly cold, inwardly warm” cop. It really felt forced, awkward, and quite frankly, sad to watch. She should have looked to Tunnels Shin Jae Yi for some inspiration. That being said, this woman was dealt a very poorly written role—one that had minimal to no screen time, despite that fact that she was a “lead” character. The character of Sun Woo was criminally underutilized and so was Moon Chae Won. I think part of her struggle was the fact that her character was so…lacking. There was no meat on the bone, nothing for her to grab onto and take a bite of. How do you act out a character who has absolutely no flavor? And how do you do it when given the least possible amount of screen time? I swear out of the entire NCI team, she was the character we saw the least. Even Na Na and Min Young’s scenes felt more frequent and memorable compared to the few and far between they dished out to Sun Woo. I wanted to know why she had the constant wall up, why she joined NCI, and more on why her family life was in such shambles (which by the way, they did a terrible job explaining who her father and brother were. Some people didn’t even notice they were revealed). They gave her one fleeting moment toward the series end to make an impression, but even then, I felt cheated, because that moment was merely a set up for her suspension; an excuse to get her off the stage and prepare it for Chief Kang versus the Reaper. How dreadful. Now, that was probably Chae Won’s best acted scene, and that’s because there was an actual story that went along with her actions. They should have involved her like this in the Nadeul River case, but instead they merely strung her along only to bring her into the mix when they needed to push things forward (but more on that later). If anything, she was the outsider looking in on this team of detectives, only getting to voice her opinions in a few rare episodes. It was a shame to see the female lead pushed further and further out of the show as it progressed.

Na Na was another character that really frustrated me. Out of all the characters, hers felt the most like a caricature. It was very obvious from the get go that they were trying to make sure viewers picked up the inspiration borrowed from the original American character. Her fashion was over the top, her personality was over the top, and so was her doll collection. I understand the original character was supposedly like this. I didn’t mind the concept of it as much as I minded the execution. Yoo Sun is a sweet woman, and I think she made Na Na a lot more likable than she was in reality. Because truthfully, this show didn’t give us any proper insight into her past or who she was as a person. They pretended to in episode five, but they were just pulling our leg, since that one minute blip of terrible flashback barely explained a damn thing about what happened to her. I wanted to know the full story. Like Hyun Joon, she also had a lot of odd side jobs. They had her step in as a substitute therapist for a victim, she volunteered at the children therapy center, and she seemed to be a sugar mom for Min Young (lol). She was supposed to be a hacker, but Lee Han always seemed to infringe on that role. I think her bubbly, innocent personality was much needed on a team of cold fish, but I would have preferred to see some depth behind the elementary individual we were presented with.

Lee Han and Min Young were also mysteries to me. We pretty much got zero explanation regarding Lee Han’s background. A genius, a profiler, and a decent hacker, were far from enough to cue us in on why he joined NCI, what his ambitions were, and what kept him up at night. These are all details that would have been nice to know, and would have elevated his character enough to keep us interested and invested. The same goes for Min Young, another member who had no clear role. First she was a press manager, but then she shifts toward a profiler in training, and finally, she ends up doing more field work than Sun Woo, which I found completely mind boggling (though not as bizarre as her constant hair style changes). Once again, we don’t know a single thing about her past, why she joined NCI or her motivations/goals. She and Han were just kind of …there. I liked them as people, probably because the actors and actresses were trying so hard to make them seem interesting, but sadly, there was nothing for me to grasp onto. They were as one dimensional as characters get.

It was clear to me that Kang Ki Hyung was the focal point of this drama. The plot relied heavily on his struggle to remain a clear minded mentor and chief after the Reaper robs him of his wife. While Ki Hyung was definitely interesting, and undeniably the team’s anchor, I feel the other characters suffered as a consequence of his narrative swallowing up most of the story. The bulk of each episode centered around the criminals, Ki Hyung’s loss, and Ki Hyung’s battle for recovery. The whole business involving Director Baek trying to remove him from his position felt like useless, phony, filler material. I think the show could have done without it. Especially since he basically gets ready to pack his bags after all the hype but then ultimately ends up remaining in his position. All that run around for nothing. They should have spent time developing the other characters or team rapport during these sections instead. I also struggled with some of Ki Hyung’s more thoughtless decisions. The episode where his wife dies was baffling to me. It’s beyond me why he let his wife go into protection with one lone agent, or why he didn’t decide to stay with her (along with the witness protection agents) until the reaper was apprehended. If it was my family being threatened and I was a detective, I NEVER would have left their side (I’ll get to some other infuriating moments below). Aside from this, I thought Son Hyun Joo was alright as Chief Kang. It took him a while to really warm up, but once he got going, I really began to appreciate his more emotional scenes.

No Romance—Waste of MCW & LJK: I know what you’re thinking. “Is Noël actually…mad…??? …that there wasn’t romance????? I thought she hated romance!!!” Well, you’re right. I usually do. But, this drama was so glaringly awful, so devoid of alluring content of any kind, that I am willing to make an exception. I think this drama actually needed a little romance, some spark, anything to give it some substance, character development, essence. I have been waiting for MCW and LJK to be cast in a drama together for years. Years. I am so devastated that this is what they ended up with (I wanted a sageuk dammit!). There is so much potential between the two of them, and yet, it was totally wasted on this monstrosity. They oozed chemistry in this drama despite the non-romantic focus. I mean, it’s LJK so I’m not surprised. He could glance at a rock with that honey glazed look and you’d think the two were meant to be together. Anyway, the two of them had it going on (LJK and MCW…not the rock), but it was all for naught. Not only was their chemistry thrown out with the trash, but their talents as well. These two are acting powerhouses, but the content they were given was hardly a showcase of their capabilities. There wasn’t much to their characters or the show in general. There were no wow moments where they could really get into character. There was no challenge. It was all so bland from start to finish. All they had to do was set themselves on autopilot and push through until the mayhem was over. Had they been given a project worthy of their time, we really could have witnessed something remarkable. Here’s hoping they reunite for a project sometime in the future.

Pitiful Profiling, Infuriating Investigation, Frustrating Field Work: This show gave me the torment of witnessing some of the worst profiling and investigation work I’ve ever had the horror of viewing on screen. I’m serious. This was some piss poor police work. There was way too much sitting around going on for my tastes. For a show that was supposed to focus on profiling, there wasn’t exactly much of it going on. Most profiling scenes consisted of a few team members gathering in a room, or around a table, in order to spout off some blatantly obvious facts or generalizations that no one needed to hear. One of the more painful examples of these was about a criminal who didn’t have a mirror in his room. I forget which skilled NCI professional so graciously enlightened us, but it went something along the lines of, “There’s no mirror. That means he has poor self image.” I hope they didn’t expect any viewers to take that seriously. Look, I know you’re probably sick of hearing about Tunnel, but Shin Jae Yi could put this entire team of so-called specialists to shame. If you want to see some decent profiling, skip this and watch Tunnel instead. They not only let the female lead have screen time, they manage to let her be the brains of the show as well. And just to prove a point, as I write this I’m currently only 2 episodes into Secret Forest, but even the prosecutor lead has better investigation and profiling skills than this bumbling group of NCI agents.

Furthermore, there were a lot of preventable deaths in this show. Too many to count. It was bewildering to watch these clowns stand in a room or sit at a table discussing irrelevant facts that didn’t even aid their discovery of the criminal at all. Half the stuff they blurted out fell under the following three categories: didn’t make sense, wasn’t data that led to the killer’s identity, or was some generic piece of information that anyone on the street could have guessed. But, let’s move on to the blunderous field work, because if I don’t keep moving, I’ll be here until Christmas. How about the moment where Ki Hyung and Min Young harassed that mentally ill classmate of Hyun Joon’s? That was probably one of the most tactless scenes I ever witnessed. And don’t even get me started on one of the earliest scenes where Hyun Joon (NOT A DOCTOR) pulls out the sharp object protruding from Sun Woo’s shoulder. Talk about a HUGE error. Under no circumstances should anyone aside from a doctor or qualified specialist be dislodging a sharp object from someone’s body. She could have bled to death for fuck’s sake. Does anyone else recall the episode where Hyun Joon was trying to save his younger sister-like figure? Him and Ki Hyung were supposed to find her, but suddenly decide to have an impromptu discussion in the forest despite time being of the essence. Thanks to the power of fiction, they save her in time, but had this been the real world, that child would have been long dead thanks to their insensitivity to time. Overall, for every moment these oafs spent chasing their tails, there was always one more murder or one more body that had to be found because they couldn’t get their shit together. They even managed to be worse than the half-baked cops of Voice; a feat I never knew was possible.

Aside from all this, there was some incredibly illogical decisions made on both Hyun Joon and Ki Hyung’s behalf. Take that finale episode with the Reaper, for example. When they confront him in that sketchy house or whatever the hell it was, it’s two armed cops against one armed criminal. The Reaper is clearly in the disadvantaged position, and he knows it. He baits them by using Director Baek and telling them they just have to put their guns down in order to see him. So, the reaper places his gun on the ground. Now, here’s what should have happened: Ki Hyung and Hyun Joon, two men who we’re led to believe are relatively intelligent, should have said to each other, or at least thought to themselves, “Director Baek is definitely not alive. This is obviously a trap.” Then, they should have fired at one of the Reaper’s limbs in order to incapacitate him without killing him, and follow through with making their arrest. Instead, we have the most unfathomable scene in history play out: Both cops put their guns down. They foolishly believe Director Baek is alive, and they think the way to get him back is not by impairing the Reaper, making an arrest, and finding the Director themselves, but instead trusting in an insane serial killer to just… escort them to where he is? What in the actual fuck am I watching? I was seconds from hurling my laptop across the room in my fit of uncontrollable rage. Anyway, the Reaper, probably thrilled that dumb and dumber actually did what he asked, tosses them a bag with one gas mask as he releases some sort of poisonous gas into the room. The two detectives don’t fall into the whole moral dilemma of two guys, one mask. They share it and fight the reaper as best they can and ultimately Hyun Joon shoots through the smog in hopes that he’s shot the Reaper and not his boss. Ki Hyung survives, Hyun Joon survives, the Reaper dies, and like I predicted, Director Baek was already long dead by now. So, there you have it. The most anti-climactic finale the world has ever seen thanks to some shitty decision making.

Nadeul River Flop: So, initially they tricked us into thinking the Nadeul River Case was going to be that big overarching case that brought not only the team, but the show together. Unfortunately, this case was entirely mishandled. Just when I thought we were going to get some significant answers about Sun Woo and Hyun Joon’s pasts and the chance to see them cultivate a bond through this case, the show ended up serving us a platter of bullshit. First of all, the whole mess about arresting Hyun Joon was anticlimactic because, as viewers, we already knew the main character wasn’t going to end up being crooked, so this whole ordeal was just a big dog and pony show to create fake angst we didn’t need. They should have nixed that before it even made it to the screen. Second, they completely undermined the weightiness of this case. For a case that supposedly had such a traumatic, long lasting, impact on two NCI team members, they sure turned it into a whole lot of nothing. Instead of eking bits and pieces of it out through each episode over a large span of time, they mention it in the beginning and toss it aside so they can come back to it around episode thirteen or fourteen and completely wrap it up as if it were one of their regular cases. What was so disturbing about this was the fact that it was a cold case that had been unsolved for years, yet, they figure it all out in a matter of about a day and a half or so. And then when you realize that the only reason it went cold was due to some haphazard investigation job it makes you scratch your head wondering just what the fuck Sun Woo and Hyun Joon had been doing all those years when they’d been brooding and doing their own little side inspections. You mean to tell me that they were that incompetent all those years, but now suddenly they’re able to figure it out in a heartbeat? They tried to give Hyun Joon’s character an excuse with the explanation that he feared to delve any deeper out of subconscious dread that his brother might be the true culprit, but even if I accept this slipshod excuse, that still wouldn’t explain Sun Woo’s negligence. That brings us to perhaps one of the most shocking parts about this whole episode. They fully abandoned Sun Woo as a character in this episode (and just in general to be quite honest). If anything, this was the one case where she could have unleashed her full potential, especially with Hyun Joon arrested. Instead, they give her a little flashback moment, call it a day, and toss her aside so that Hyun Joon can resolve the problem himself—because, it’s Hyun Joon, and the man can do anything and everything (at least…that’s what the show wanted us to buy into).

The Ending: Was anyone else startled by how the show came to a screeching halt and that was the end of it? I mean.. what the fuck happened here. The Reaper dies, Hyun Joon watches Ki Hyung stare out the misty window in a room still filled with noxious gas, the scene cuts to Ki Hyung and his son having some sort of heart to heart by the lake, and then the NCI team waves from a distance. I’m not sure what exactly was being communicated here. Is he still on the NCI team, did he quit after the whole Reaper ordeal? Why couldn’t they have shown what life was like with the team now that the reaper was apprehended? They whole team showing up on the beach or whatever it was waving from afar was incredibly bizarre to me. Were they coming to join them? The whole vibe was just very strange. It was such a jarring end to the show, and it left me with a lot of questions of what could have been.

Redeeming Factors:

Lee Jun Ki: I’m going to start off by saying that I have never ever disliked a Lee Jun Ki drama. Though some have frustrated me, I’ve always ended up embracing and enjoying each drama he’s been in to some degree. Basically, anything he’s in can win me over. I could easily re-watch any of the works his participated in. The same could be said about his characters. There’s not a single LJK character that I haven’t supported or loved right off the bat. Unfortunately, neither of these are the case for Criminal Minds. You couldn’t pay me to re-watch this drama. As for Hyun Joon, it took me forever just to even tolerate him, let alone like him. Even by the end of the drama, I know the only reason I grew semi-fond of him is because LJK was involved. Had someone else played this character, I’d be completely uninterested. Same for the drama. The only reason I finished this train wreck was to support him. Otherwise, I would have dropped this after the first episode. In my opinion, this is by far, the worst drama he’s been a part of, and it was through no fault of his own. Junks acted the fuck out of what I’d deem and incredibly one dimensional character. Sure Hyun Joon was annoyingly good looking, seemed like a nice man, great with kids, determined, etc. But at his core, Hyun Joon was incredibly basic and required at least one layer of complexity to make him feel genuine. Thankfully, Jun Ki was given a few extra scenes more than his poor co-star Chae Won, to showcase his abilities. A few of my favorites were the interrogation of Hyun Joon by Ki Hyang, the confrontation between Hyun Joon and the detective who incapacitated his brother in the hit and run accident, and the interrogation of Dong Joon by Hyun Joon at the end of episode seventeen. All three of these moments allowed Jun Ki to whip out his magnificent plethora of meticulous facial expressions. The contorted look of betrayal, anger, and disbelief that flashed over his face when Ki Hyung begins grilling Hyun Joon spoke volumes and really elevated that dialogue. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of opportunities like this. Hyun Joon seemed to be the go to guy for field work, and consequently spent most of his time running around and spouting out random profiling statistics in those sinfully unproductive team discussions. As I’ve mentioned above, from start to finish, this show was an atrocious waste of his incredible talent (and Chae Won’s).

Kim Won Hae: To put things simply—the Reaper was lame. There was no complexity or qualities to make him interesting. Basically, a yawn fest. Kim Won Hae on the other hand, is certainly not a yawn fest. The veteran actor brought the Reaper to life with his wild facial expressions and quirky antics. His playful tone of voice made the Reaper feel more menacing than your average criminal, despite the fact that he wasn’t outwardly aggressive. Kim Won Hae didn’t have much to work with, and he didn’t even have sufficient screen time to make his character stand out, but somehow, he managed to make it work anyway. It was Kim Won Hae’s performance that made the Reaper memorable, unique, and intriguing.

Some Well Acted Criminals: There were three criminals that I felt put on a fantastic performance despite the fact that I found the cases/backstories in this show to be pretty damn bland for the most part. The first was Lim Soo Hyang, who was featured in episodes five and six as Song Yoo Kyung. Her thoughtful performance really made an impression, and she was the first criminal that actually peaked my interest. That case was honestly where I felt the show peaked but I use that term loosely since there wasn’t a single episode that had my complete and utter attention for the full sixty minutes. The second was Jo Han Chul as Jang Ki Tae in episodes seven and eight. Put simply, this was an excellent casting choice. I’d argue that Ki Tae was the most complex villain out of all the episodes and Han Chul’s persuasive and compelling performance definitely stole the show and did justice to this character. Finally, I felt Jung Tae Woo, who played Kim Min Soo in episodes ten and eleven, put on the most convincing act. I really enjoyed watching him navigate the different personalities of abused son and self-made executioner. Tae Woo really nailed the different tones and expressions needed for this role, and he communicated exceptionally through his eyes. Sadly, the fact that these criminals were so well casted really shed light on the fact that the NCI team were lacking in a lot of areas. I wish they had exerted more effort on the team’s development and direction rather than the criminals.

Decent OST: The music itself was quite nice. I found myself enjoying both vocal tracks. I don’t necessarily agree with the way they were used, or more specifically, the timing of when they were applied during the show. They were definitely utilized oddly in the first few episodes, but they seemed to tone it down later on as the show progressed (once they figured out less is best). Anyway, if we’re just judging the tracks themselves, I think they were satisfying.

Overall Thoughts:

The only thing criminal about Criminal Minds was the appalling waste of its seasoned leads, failure to compose a coherent script/storyline, and ability to somehow turn an already well-loved show into a snooze fest—with slapdash editing at that. Unless you are the utmost dedicated Lee Jun Ki or Moon Chae Won fan, I’d advise you to stay as far away from this show as possible. I can assure you, it will be a thorough waste of your time. Should you chose to watch this bedraggled mess out of dedication to your faves, I wish you the best of luck. You will never get that time back. The only advice I can give you is to appreciate the suits they let Junks wear in the second half (because some of those shirts/outfits from the first were downright detestable), and the stunning red dress Chae Won got to wear for all of two seconds in episode eighteen. Otherwise, you’re in for a slow, grueling, and painfully predictable ride. Let us hope these two get the projects they deserve once they’ve taken some rest.

Rating: 4.0/10 

Did you watch Criminal Minds? What did you think of the drama? If you haven’t already, you can check out the extended preview here.


  1. Well, much to my dismay, I agree with the bulk of what you said 😦 I just completed episode 11, so I still have a ways to go. I’m beyond bored with it and it is riddled with problems all of which you pointed out. The only reason I am still watching is because of Lee Joon Gi. I just can’t not complete his drama. But if not for him I would have dropped it after a few episodes. And even though I think he’s doing his best with what he has to work with, this role is by far the most unflattering role and under utilization of him ever. I’m now only watching a couple eps a week because it’s just too boring. But I will finish it for Lee Joon Gi. Here’s hoping for a rom-com next time! It won’t be hard at all to top this…

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    • I empathize completely. 😥 I always finish his stuff to the end, even when it’s not the best, because I just love seeing him on screen. That being said, I’ve honestly never been /this/ displeased with one of his works before. Like you, he was the only reason I stuck this one out and I totally agree with you—I truly think this is his worst role to date. It undermines him as an actor and it’s pitiful to watch. It took me hours at a time to finish a single episode. I’d start at 7:00 and next thing I knew I was taking multiple breaks in between and ended up finishing at 11:00 or so. 😟 Anyways, I hope he picks something more rewarding after he takes a break. Though rom-coms aren’t usually my cup of tea, it’d be nice to see him in a more lighthearted setting 😄 and agree…anything he picks should be better than this. You’d have to be making an effort to cook up something just as bad as CMkr. 👀

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    • Thanks for your comment! Yes, it was indeed sad to watch. I was hoping for so much more, but alas, this is what we are stuck with. Oh, well…I still appreciate the actors’/actresses’ efforts at the end of the day.


  2. Hi Noel, sadly I’m here to report that I dropped CM about 10 eps in. Sigh… such a waste. Even junki couldn’t make me stay (fake fan alert lol) you had more determination than me to complete it! The second drama of junki’s I’ve not completed (first being Arang, but I’ll go back sometime) I’m not even sure I’ll go back to finish it hah. But yes, I agree it was bad. Nice and super detailed review anyway, I don’t think I’ll be able to write like this for a drama I don’t enjoy. Thanks for this post ^^ ❤

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    • Hey there! Honestly, it sounds dramatic, but I’m really relieved to hear that you let this one go lmao…😂 I wish I could get that time back, so I’m glad you’re not going to waste any more of yours. I still think you’re a pretty great fan, the half-way mark is no small feat! Hahaha! No worries. Truthfully, out of all his sageuk projects, and despite also starring Yoo Seung Ho… Arang was my least favorite. 👀 So.. I don’t blame you if you never get around to re-visiting that one either. Thank you so much for your thoughts and kind words! 💞😀


      • Hahahaha I get you😂 to be honest I was already struggling at the single digit eps..couldn’t bring myself to continue lmao. Ultimately I gave up😂 Thank you~~ I finished SHR and Scholar, then thought I would be able to do it again this time round but alas, HAHAHA. Oh really!? I have always been told that Arang is his best work for sageuk like so many people love it – I’ve said this before but the reason I stopped watching was mainly because I wasn’t as open to the fantasy genre back then. You’re welcome hehe I’ll be sure to drop by more in future 🙂

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        • Surprising I know! I’m actually an outcast when it comes to my Arang opinion lmao. It’s so true, I always see people recommending that one first, and I can’t help the urge to chime in and say “NO, watch his other stuff instead!” I did end up enjoying it for what it was, and it’s not a terrible drama by any means (especially after this CM experience), but for some reason, I just… couldn’t get into it as much as the other ones. They all have their fair share of problems, and as corny as sageuk fantasy dramas can be, I think they are a great fit for someone like Junks, which is why I know I enjoy them so much. I really happened to like his character and performance in Scholar and the same goes for Wang So despite SHR being an editing/acting nightmare. Iljimae is my favorite of his sageuk dramas. So, that makes Arang … that one fantasy concept that I couldn’t quite gel with. This is coming from someone who finds vampire concepts incredibly campy and embarrassing and yet, I just felt the whole Arang concept was most cringeworthy out of everything he’s done. I think it’s probably because Scholar was actually a very serious drama despite the tackiness, while Arang definitely bordered more on the brink of comedy, which made it difficult for me to tolerate. Some people really like that rom-com vibe though, so that’s probably why they find it the more enjoyable out of his dramas. Personally, I like my sageuks weighty, complex, and tragic; and (as most people know by now) I’m not a fan of rom-coms, so that definitely explains my preference toward his other works.

          Anyway… my sincerest apologies for this massive wall of text that absolutely nobody asked for lmfao. 💀 By no means should you feel the need to respond to this nonsense. Thank you, and I look forward to chatting more often! 😄

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          • Yeah omg, same here I wasn’t really into it as well lol. but I’ve forgotten a lot of it by now frankly😂 yes I know that they’re all not perfect but most say Arang was the best in terms of consistency(?) because Scholar faltered midway, and Joseon Gunman went downhill towards the end for instance. I liked Sung-yeol and Wang So too (but the writing.. no) He really suits the sageuk look and particularly shines in them ❤ ❤ ❤ same with Arang… LOL and omg, I don't like vampire concepts too or just any fantasy/supernatural genre much or at all. Agree about Scholar's seriousness, it was the later questionable writing lmao. That's true, and same again😂 I am no fan of rom-coms too omg hahahaha I'm loving this convo. WOAH SAME about the tragic, and heavy sageuks too. Like, I don't mind some cute&funny stuff I guess but I also prefer complex, or even angsty kinds LOL. I think I preferred Joseon Gunman and Iljimae because of that too. I don't know if this is just a coincidence but yeah omg I'm almost the same as you with regards to this😆

            No don't apologise I'm thankful that you're sharing these thoughts with me. lmfao sorry for the late reply by the way, just got back on here. I look forward to that as well hehehe thanks so much😘

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          • Ah yes, I see what you mean. That’s pretty true… Arang at least told a coherent story from beginning to end, but I’d argue that since its story was a tad boring and a bit plain, it was probably a lot easier to keep it from crumbling. 👀 Scholar indeed had that whole musical chairs thing going on with the writers so the pacing/writing fell flat and I agree, Gunman started strong but then completely lost steam in the second half (and sadly, Nam Sang Mi’s performance didn’t help its case). And well…don’t even get me started on the way the SHR writers completely destroyed both Hae Soo and Wang So’s characters. I guess the difference for me is that while the other dramas may have faltered in writing and consistency, their stories still felt more interesting and compelling, while Arang felt a bit bland and uninteresting despite having it’s story tied down. 💀 But, still wayyyyy better than Criminal Minds! 😂👏 I’m glad you feel me on the rom-coms and angsty sageuks though, I usually offend people with my rom-com hate speech lmao. 😅❤️

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          • Haha, I see what you mean too! Don’t know about Arang now but I’ll be sure to tell you when I finish watching it hahaha. Musical chairs lmao,yeah to both cases. Lol SHR… nevermind we should erase the story of that
            off our minds 😆 I do agree with the interesting and compelling part, Arang was probably more of a fluffy rom-com fusion sageuk thing (and tropey LOL) rather than traditional. Yeah, definitely😂😂 criminal minds omg sighs. How is that hate speech hahahaha it’s just personal preferences loool. But I certainly prefer heavier, more sombre material too – so we’re on the same page here! ❤ ❤

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  3. I could really feel the pain too…to dislike sthg JG worked so hard and has given his 101% efforts ibto…😣😣😣
    i think that’s the reason ppl… i mean his fans really, just keep low key on this one. To avoid hurting his feelings… though i guess he knows better…
    this drama is a complete failure…i only finished to support JG…the worst being i have watched the first 2 seasons of the US version trying to get the taste of it…and boom! Wtf…i had too much expectations only feeling more defeated afterwards…
    As you have mentioned it has just too many mistakes on every level i juz dunno where to start…i guess it’s due to the fact that one of the PDs left right after the drama began to air…and he’s supposed to be a good one. You know, he has done a wonderful job on the Korean version of Good Wife which i like and think its a fair adaptation to the US version. U should watch this when u have time.
    The remaining PD is famous for directing action sequences, which he did a fair job on showing JG s cool action scenes. But i guess he doesn’t know how to tell a story…oh well…

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    • Hi thanks for your comment and for reading this long ass post!!! ❤️ I feel you, this was honestly the worst feeling because he just puts his all into everything so to end up in a project that was worse than mediocre was just…devastating. 😢 I don’t blame fans for laying low, this one really was…inexcusable lmao, so I think they thought best not to say anything at all. JG actually recently mentioned his disappointment with how the overall show turned out at the recent 12th anniversary King and the Clown screening. But it totally wasn’t his fault, it was definitely the network and fault of the PD, and like you say, once that Good Wife PD dropped out I knew that it was going to be a downward spiral from there onward. I didn’t even watch the original CM so I can’t even imagine the disappointment fans of the original must have felt. Yes, I haven’t seen TGW, but I did hear good things about it so I have it on my watch list! 😃


  4. Yes i hope he chooses his projects well in the future. Somehow i feel it’s his blind spot…focusing too much on showing his talents that he sometimes forgets the script as a whole perhaps…

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