Ken Tucker
April 08, 2010 AT 01:21 PM EDT

Last night was the back-door pilot for a spin-off of Criminal Minds, starring Forest Whitaker. As Agent Sam Cooper, Whitaker was lean (the show introduced him letting loose some post-Ghost Dog martial-arts exercising in a gym) and effectively terse. He led a team of three — a Brit, a blonde, and a balding guy (this is just about as much characterization as the episode allowed). Cooper/Walker established his essential nature by telling Thomas Gibson’s Hotch, “I’m allergic to bureaucracy.”

So we get it: He’s an agent, but he’s a rebel. I thought Whitaker did a solid job. Like the other good actors in Criminal Minds — I’m thinking particularly of Gibson, Paget Brewster, and Joe Mantegna — Whitaker had to put across jargon-riddled dialogue purely on the strength of intonation and physical expressiveness.

I’m ambivalent about Criminal Minds in general. Too often, it’s just a serial-killer-of-the-week show. But I like CSI, and that’s a Vegas-autopsy-of-the-week show, so I’m not dismissing Minds by any means — it’s simply a matter of which formula you like in your crime series.

How about you? On board for Agt. Sam Cooper’s variation on Criminal Minds?

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