Going into CBS’ Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, one may wish to view the episodes as “teaching moments” and not let the frightful on-screen events scare you from ever getting your passport stamped again.
Premiering Wednesday, March 16, at 10/9c, Beyond Borders stars Gary Sinise (CSI: NY) as Jack Garrett, head of the FBI’s International Response Unit, a specialized division that solves crimes perpetrated against U.S. citizens abroad. Alana De La Garza (Forever), Daniel Henney (Hawaii Five-0), Tyler James Williams (The Walking Dead) and Annie Funke round out the team.
“Crime can happen anywhere, criminals are everywhere,” executive producer Erica Messer noted Tuesday at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena. “[This show] might make you think twice in the way that you travel, but we certainly don’t want to scare anyone away from going anywhere in the world, because it is still a beautiful place out there.”
Instead, each episode will typically school the viewer on the sorts of dangers indigenous to specific places, and the roadblocks Americans might run into in the event of the unspeakable. “Culturally, we’re going to show you some differences and challenges that, as an American abroad, you might face and certainly that our team of heroes faces as they’re solving cases abroad,” Messer said.
As for the innate fright factor, Messer noted that the original Criminal Minds “has become less gory on-screen,” adding: “It’s not that the storytelling has gone soft, it’s just that we might not show you what we’ve shown you in past seasons. On Beyond Borders, there are things that are happening — organs are being harvested [in Episode 2] — but we try not to show you a lot of that. We’re not going to want to make you look away, but extreme things are happening that will make you think.”
Presented with the expected question of how/why Beyond Borders might succeed where Criminal Minds‘ first stab at a spinoff, Suspect Behavior, didn’t, EP Mark Gordon said that with the 2011 offshoot, “We were trying too hard to be different. [In creating a spinoff] you want something that’s fresh and different but at same time you want to honor the show you’re spinning off from.” Simply setting a Criminal Minds-type case in a different country each week landed Beyond Borders “correctly in the Criminal Minds family but with its own identity.”