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How Moving Criminal Minds: Evolution To Paramount+ Changed The Show For The Better

One of the biggest modern hits for CBS was the procedural series "Criminal Minds." The series, which followed the Behavioral Analysis Unit, or BAU, of the FBI as they tracked down serial killers across America, ran for a total of 15 seasons before it took a bow in 2020.

The show's fanbase remained strong, however, ultimately leading to a revival on the streaming service Paramount+. Titled "Criminal Minds: Evolution," several cast members returned with the series, including Joe Mantegna, Paget Brewster, A.J. Cook, and Aisha Tyler.

The show's shift from a network channel to a streaming service has led to some notable changes. Mantegna had previously spoken about how the change led to differences in how his character, David Rossi, was written and portrayed. Now showrunner Erica Messer has spoken about how the jump from CBS to Paramount+ has changed the show for the better. Here's what she had to say.

The episode development hadn't changed in the shift

In an interview with Deadline, "Criminal Minds: Evolution" showrunner Erica Messer was asked about the lengths of the episodes. She pointed out that the episodes on Paramount+ are closer to 53 minutes, roughly 10 minutes longer than the "Criminal Minds" episodes that aired on CBS.

Asked about whether the extended runtime per episode posed any additional challenges, Messer said it was quite the opposite. She elaborated that the shooting times, number of pages per episode script, and total number of scenes have remained unchanged in the jump from CBS to Paramount+.

The increased runtime, however, means that the episodes don't have to be edited as harshly. Messer said that the added runtime allows for the scenes to breathe, letting the show linger in the emotional moments, as well as the horrific ones, to strengthen their impact. The basics of creating each episode, however, remained the same from the show's initial run.

"I feel like our directors cuts are really getting to live in a way that they couldn't before because we couldn't air all 53 minutes," Messer concluded.

There was one notable change made to the show, however; Messer addressed the swearing that has appeared in "Criminal Minds: Evolution," which was not permitted on CBS. She noted that swearing felt more organic to the characters, given what they were experiencing. She added, however, that she didn't want the show to sound or look different, which meant walking a tricky balance with both the swearing and the display of violence.

Messer also spoke about the cast changes

Despite the attempts of "Criminal Minds: Evolution" to feel like a genuine continuation of "Criminal Minds," there is one glaring difference; the absence of Dr. Spencer Reid, played by Matthew Gray Gubler.

Dr. Reid was a staple of "Criminal Minds," appearing in over 300 episodes of the show, but he did not make the jump to the Paramount+ revival. Messer was asked about his absence and replied that it was the result of scheduling issues. She noted that "Criminal Minds: Evolution" shot the new season between August to early December, and Gubler was involved in numerous other projects that were also shooting during that time. Messer added that Daniel Henney, who played agent Matt Simmons, was also similarly occupied with the Amazon Prime series "The Wheel of Time."

Another staple character of "Criminal Minds," however, did make the jump, as Kirsten Vangsness, who plays Penelope Garcia, also returned on "Criminal Minds: Evolution." This was especially noticeable as "Criminal Minds" ended with Garcia opting to leave the BAU. Messer addressed this in the interview as well, elaborating that while Garcia has returned, it's clear that she hasn't been working on cases in between the series, instead just remaining in contact with the team as friends. The nature of this new case, however, draws Garcia back into the fold.