TV review: Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, W
Paranoid spin off sees Gary Sinise leading an FBI international response unit solving crimes across the world
As the CSI and Law & Order franchises shrink Criminal Minds and NCIS are expanding to fill the police procedural vacuum. Opening with the ominous voiceover: 'Over 68 million Americans leave the safety of our borders every year,' Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders fuels the kind of paranoia Donald Trump thrives on.
The opening episode of this new spin off starts with two American students going missing in Thailand. Gary Sinise and his crack FBI international response unit swing into action, jetting around the world in their tricked out super plane, flying in and kicking ass with superior tactics, intelligence and fire power. Thailand is described as 'one of the deadliest destinations for tourists' (conveniently forgetting to mention that the US and Thai murder rates are fairly similar), portraying the local police as incompetent, uncooperative and sexist.
Beyond Borders plays like it was devised by a Tea Party think tank. Attempting to dodge any accusations of racism with its multi-ethnic cast (also featuring Alana De La Garza, Daniel Henney, Annie Funke and Tyler James Williams) but the underlying message is clear: stay in America, fear foreigners, never expand your horizons, the rest of the world is crawling with murders and criminals. Don't just build a wall but seal the borders and lock the doors.
Apart from the exotic backdrop Beyond Borders follows the tired, tried and tested formula that made the Criminal Minds brand so popular. Horribly violent crimes that can be neatly solved within a one hour TV slot. Having only seen one episode it feels harsh condemning the entire series but Beyond Borders is going to have to work extremely hard to counteract the cloying xenophobic tone they have established. Sinise you really can do better.
Season 1 of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders starts on W, Wed 20 Apr, 9pm.