Gary Sinise anchors ‘Criminal Minds’ spinoff

When three young American volunteers go missing in Thailand, the International Response Team, led by Unit Chief Jack Garrett (Gary Sinise) are sent there to investigate their disappearance.
When three young American volunteers go missing in Thailand, the International Response Team, led by Unit Chief Jack Garrett (Gary Sinise) are sent there to investigate their disappearance. CBS

CBS has found great success in spinning off police procedural dramas from such shows as “CSI” and “NCIS.” Things have not gone as well with attempts to do the same with “Criminal Minds.”

Back in 2011, CBS added the spinoff “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior” to its lineup. Despite starring Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and being produced by the same team behind “Criminal Minds,” the crime drama lasted only 13 episodes.

CBS isn’t giving up. The network’s latest spinoff, “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders,” looks at the FBI’s International Division that comes to the rescue of Americans in other parts of the world and helps solve crimes.

Erica Messer, who produced 138 episodes of “Criminal Minds,” and Mark Gordon, who produced 247 episodes of “Criminal Minds,” are the team behind the new spinoff.

Both are proud of the work that has been done on “Criminal Minds,” but they recognized there was more crime than just what was going on in the United States. Their research showed Americans are traveling more than ever before and that 68 million Americans leave the United States every year.

“Our brains just started ticking that there’s crime that happens to those Americans and wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a team of FBI heroes that could come save you,” Messer says. “We wanted to keep the relatability that ‘Criminal Minds’ does so well and bring that to this series as well.

“Even if you’re somebody who doesn’t want to travel the globe, chances are you know someone who does, and so those relateable, scary stories are the ones that we’re bringing to you in the international landscape.”

Even with the global floor plan for the new show, there are no assurances that “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” will work any better than “Crimnal Minds: Suspect Behavior.” The producers point to the efforts to make “Suspect Behavior” so different than the original that the audience didn’t recognize it.

The idea with “Beyond Borders” is to be fresh and different, while at the same time keep some ties to the original show.

“It took many years between ‘Suspect Behavior’ and ‘Beyond Borders,’ and I think the reason it took that time was that we wanted to find something that was really organic,” Gordon says. “Erica came up with this idea, and it felt like we have it. And here we are.”

Producers have turned to an actor very familiar with spinoffs: Gary Sinise. He spent nine years starring on “CSI: NY,” a successful spinoff in the “CSI” franchise.

Sinise, who is best known for playing Lt. Dan in “Forrest Gump,” understands comparisons will be made. He’s playing another strong member of law enforcement supervising an eclectic team. Tyler James Williams, Daniel Henney, Alana La Garza and Annie Funke also star.

He also stresses there will be some big differences. One of them is that unlike his previous CBS series, Sinise won’t be playing a character with so much emotional baggage.

“On ‘CSI: NY,’ you had an individual that lost a family member. He lost his wife on Sept. 11. He was grieving for nine seasons, then found love again at the end of the series,” Sinise says. “We’re going to explore that aspect of this character and all the personal lives of the other characters as the audience gets to know them as well.

“In law enforcement, quite often on television, there’s always these characters that are constantly broken. On the other hand, there are several law enforcement individuals in this country that have found a way to have a successful family, to raise kids, to keep their marriages together.”

That’s the kind of insight Sinise brings to the new series cultivated from all those seasons on “CSI: NY.” That was a big reason the producers thought of Sinise from the start to play the leader of this globe-hopping group.

It’s also a reason they have high hopes for the spinoff.

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders

  • 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, CBS47