Brewster returns to 'Criminal Minds': How it sustains good ratings

Paget Brewster is returning to the program as a series regular. The show has been a strong performer for network CBS.

Cliff Lipson/CBS/File
Paget Brewster (r.) appears in an episode of 'Criminal Minds' with AJ Cook (l.) and Shemar Moore (center) in 2012.

Actress Paget Brewster is coming back as a series regular on the high-rated CBS show “Criminal Minds.”

Ms. Brewster appeared on the program, which depicts the work of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit, from the show’s second season in 2006 until 2012. Her character, Emily Prentiss, has appeared on the show since then, popping up in a 2014 episode. 

Now “Criminal” executive producer and showrunner Erica Messer says Brewster will be back on the show for the program’s upcoming twelfth season, with Brewster set to appear beginning in October.

In recent years, Brewster has appeared on TV shows such as the Fox TV show “Grandfathered” and Yahoo Screen’s “Community.” 

“Criminal” has been one of several crime-based successes for CBS, though the show fares slightly better with older viewers. During the 2015-2016 TV season, “Criminal” came in sixteenth for the year in total viewers and eighteenth for viewers 18 to 49. 

What makes the show popular? 

Star Matthew Gray Gubler told USA Today in 2006 that he thinks the suspense factor brings in viewers. The people depicted in the show are trying to stop a crime, not reconstruct one.

“We have a ticking time bomb in each episode,” Mr. Gubler said. “There are people in jeopardy, and we're trying to save lives as opposed to just finding out what happened.” 

And Los Angeles Times writer Chuck Barney points out that “Criminal Minds” and other shows often wrap up a plotline in a single episode. 

“Many viewers prefer procedurals because they typically offer stand-alone, close-ended episodes,” Mr. Barney wrote. 

Crime show fan Earl Daggett of Concord, Calif. is one viewer who felt this way when interviewed in 2009.

“I hate to have to feel obligated to get back [to a show] and watch to see how it all turned out," Mr. Daggett told the LA Times. “That's why I never watched soaps. I like to have everything resolved before it's over.”

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