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CBS is officially bringing the Criminal Minds spinoff Beyond Borders to series next TV season, following the successful backdoor pilot that aired on the network during an episode of Criminal Minds this spring. However, despite the perceived success of the episode we’ve seen, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders is moving forward without series lead Anna Gunn. CBS head Nina Tassler says the network plans to fill the gap left by Gunn in the coming months:
Gary [Sinise] is sort of larger than life and [as Jack Garrett] he filled a lot of the same [needs as Gunn’s character]. But we’re actually going to be adding a couple of new characters... [that] speak more to the needs of the franchise.
What’s most interesting about Tassler’s comment is not that Beyond Borders has plans to replace Gunn. It’s that Tassler says that Gary Sinise’s Jack Garrett fulfilled pretty much the same role as Gunn on the show. When CBS picked up Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders to series at the beginning of the month, the network simply cut Gunn out of the announcement. At least, now we’re getting some frame of reference for why she is not moving forward with the rest of the team as the project moves to series.
While Tassler’s note to TV Line doesn’t actually say who the drama is moving forward with in Gunn’s place, one would have to assume that the “new characters” will at least include a couple of females. So far, CSI: NY’s Gary Sinise, The Walking Dead’s Tyler James Williams and Big Hero 6’s Daniel Henney are the big names confirmed for the series, which didn’t even make CBS’ fall schedule. At least the network will have some time to find a lineup that will work.
Criminal Minds is a pretty hot franchise for CBS, but the last time the network attempted a spinoff, it didn’t go so well. Back in 2011, the network put together Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, which also featured a well-known cast and a similar premise to the original. That one didn’t end up working so well, as Suspect Behavior was cancelled at the end of the TV season. Obviously, CBS doesn’t want another failed spinoff on its hands and is taking measures to make sure Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders works for fans, even if that means no Anna Gunn.
Beyond Borders isn’t the only series in the franchise that needs to fill out its cast. Jennifer Love Hewitt has also left Criminal Minds and will need to be replaced before Season 11 hits the schedule next fall. In the meantime, here’s what the network has coming up this summer.