Credit: Vivian Zink

Oh, Mandy, you came and you gave without taking/But then you walked away, oh Mandy…

At this point, neither you nor I nor Barry Manilow knows why Mandy Patinkin abruptly quit his starring role on CBS’ Criminal Minds. The reason wasn’t money or contract issues, according to a joint statement issued yesterday by the network and the show’s production company, Disney-owned ABC Studios. The actor, who pulled a similar disappearing act 12 years ago from CBS’ Chicago Hope (back then, he said he wanted to spend more time with his family), also issued a statement yesterday, citing “creative differences” and adding that he “looks forward to continuing to work with the Disney and CBS companies in other capacities in the future” (possible translation: “Please don’t label me as ‘difficult’ because I still want to work in this town, perhaps even with you guys again. No hard feelings, eh?”).

Now, “creative differences” could mean just about anything, but suppose we take Patinkin at his word. Did he not like the way his character, Special Agent Jason Gideon (pictured), was developing (or not developing — which is a common complaint among actors in these police procedural shows)? Did he balk at something the writers wanted Gideon to do? Is Gideon going to be killed off on the show? (CBS and ABC Studios said he’d be back for one ep next season that will explain Gideon’s departure, and that a new character will be introduced to replace him.)

Let me ask you, Criminal Minds fans: Are you sorry or relieved to see Patinkin go? Can the show survive without him, or was he indispensable? How should Gideon be written off the show? And which star would you like to see in his place?

addCredit(“Mandy Patinkin: Vivian Zink“)