The CBS Home Entertainment July 16, 2019 pristine DVD release of the 2019-20 14th (and penultimate) season of the procedural series "Criminal Minds" provides a good chance to either revisit this long-running program or to discover what you have been missing. The nice surprise for folks in the latter category is that "Minds" shows that ageist prejudice regarding these broadcast-network mysteries is unwarranted in this case.
A very cool aspect of this is that "Minds" warrants comparison to the CW paranormal investigation series "Supernatural." Episodes of both shows, which each just wrapped up their 14th seasons ahead of their 15th and final ones, typically begin in the same manner. The cold open consists of a combination of the most recent trauma and drama in the lives of the central characters and the initially unrelated events around which the action of the week centers.
The compelling nature of both series largely involves how the personal and professional lives of our heroes overlap.
The similarities continue with the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) springing into action in a more upscale manner than the creature-hunting Winchester brothers of "Supernatural;" the civil servants go "wheels up" in their private jet to bring their "monster" to justice as opposed to the siblings jumping in their in their 67 Chevy to do their best to put right what once went wrong.
Our best "minds" use their brains to figure out "whydunit" as the first step to figuring out "whodunit" and go on to prevent it from happening again. The brawn primarily in the form of two hunks is there to ensure that the bad guys are subdued with a minimum of harm to all interested parties.
Another parallel is that programs celebrate their 300th episode in their 14th season. In the case of "Minds," we get a threefer in the form of this one also being the season premiere and the conclusion to the 13th-season season-ending cliffhanger. The basic plot is that quirky computer genius (a.k.a. girl in the chair) Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and adorakble boy genius Special Agent Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) get taken hostage by the already identified psycho of the story.
Much of this one revolves around fully bringing the band back together before Reid becomes a highly symbolic 300th victim. Tying all this into an earlier (and largely forgotten) case in which recently deceased in real-life Luke Perry guest stars is way cool.
"Minds" actually dips its toes into "Supernatural" territory in two episodes. "The Tall Man" is more than a sort of a homecoming for team-member Jennifer "JJ" Jareau (AJ Cook). She learns that you cannot go home again when a report of the local bogeyman brings her back to her hometown, where the past essentially returns to haunt her. A more positive aspect of this is that learning from history prevents it from repeating.
"Sick and Evil" has the BAU group investigating murders at documented haunted houses in a small town. This one has an especially offbeat charm.
More mundane cases involve a "Village of the Damned" outing involving hypnotized children, several cases of self-justified vigilante justice with extreme prejudice, and two feds separately pursuing their own unauthorized agendas.
The final episode hits all the right notes in that it is a perfect season finale that also serves as a solid last hurrah for "Minds" in the event of there not being a 15th season. The team starts out doing its usual expert job determining the method to the madness that prompts their latest road trip. This wraps up in plenty of time for an event that is more than a season in the making and that involves a very special guest star. In other words, we see that our "friends" get to live as happily ever after as is possible considering their jobs that often reflect their highly troubled pasts.
One final regarding this finale is the DVD-included deleted scene makes one wish that it made the cut in favor of some of the frivolity in the final scenes.
CBS Home Entertainment deserves kudos merely for including DVD special features this late in the game. Going above-and beyond both regarding these extras and their placement in the set warrants a figurative pat on the back.
We start with "300: A Celebration" just ahead of the season premiere. This one has Executive Producer Erica Messer, the aforementioned cast members, and the rest of the ensemble (including veterans Paget Brewster and Joe Mantegna) entertainingly discuss how they have come a long way, Baby, and show that they still are going strong.
The amusingly titles bonus after the season finale discusses that milestone, and the aptly titled "Season 14: The Truth of the Matter" that follows all this takes a broader perspective that also demonstrates that cast and crew still enjoy going to work everyday. Even not-so-astute viewers of the episodes can sense that love of the game.
A gag reel and "The Actors on Directing," in which several cast members discuss working behind the camera round out these additional reasons for buying the DVDs, rather than streaming episodes.