Criminal Minds was in serious need of new cast members after the end of last season. Jennifer Love Hewitt was leaving the show and A.J. Cook would also be out for part of the season for maternity leave. While most thoughts then turned to new cast members, Minds very nearly turned to old cast members. Unfortunately, the unforgiving schedule of regular TV prevented Paget Brewster from returning to her old stomping grounds as Emily Prentiss.
While speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour to promote her new comedy Grandfathered, Brewster says she actively tried to do a few Criminal Minds episodes to cover for A.J. Cook, but they just could not make the timing work. According to TV Line:
A.J. called me and I said, ‘I think so, if we aren’t doing Grandfathered,‘ — at the time, I didn’t know if we were picked up [by Fox] — and it just didn’t work out, which was too bad because I love those guys. I love the writers, I’m still friends with everyone there…. But it just didn’t work out, which was a shame. I really wanted to do it!
For Criminal Minds fans the “close but no cigar” situation has got to be a little frustrating. Brewster’s character of Emily Prentiss was a fan favorite during her years with the BAU and after a couple of years away it would have been nice to see her again. If the show didn’t want her, or she had no interest in going back, that would be one thing, but to know everybody was on board but scheduling prevented it is more than a little upsetting.
It’s nice to know that she views her time there happily and would have been willing to return, as it implies there may still be an opportunity for her to return down the road. Things got weird for the show’s sixth season, where Brewster had her role reduced and Cook was removed entirely. Fans were so upset that both actresses were asked to return for Season 7. While Cook has remained since then, Brewster left after the seventh season except for a guest appearance in Season 9.
Brewster has plenty to do, however. Her new show Grandfathered, starring John Stamos as a bachelor who discovers he has a child...who has a child, has been picked up by Fox and will premiere in the fall. (Plus, she was also in the sixth and possibly final season of Community on Yahoo.) In addition, Criminal Minds signed Aisha Tyler to take over the role that Jennifer Love Hewitt left behind.
While we may never see Agent Prentiss again, it’s nice to know that the door is open. Season 11 of Criminal Minds premieres on CBS on September 30. Grandfathered Season 1 will premiere on FOX the day before, September 29.