Law & Order: CI – Tells A Good Story

I was informed that Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe would be leaving their roles as Detectives Robert Goren and Alexandra Eames on Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

For some of the fans it was the beginning of the end for the show considering how influential both were to it. I’m currently going through the latest season on Universal which features Jeff Goldblum and Saffron Burrowes as Detectives Zack Nichols and Serena Stevens. There are things to critique about it, but it is not a bad season so far and the episodes are solid enough. The tricky thing is though, ‘solid enough’ isn’t usually good enough to either attract new viewers to a show or retain the devotion of regular viewers. So it came as no surprise when the announcement was made that the next season they will put together will be the last for the show – nice and neatly ending on ten seasons. The good news as well is that D’Onofrio and Erbe will be returning for that season, so I look forward to seeing how they bow out – hopefully neither will have to die, that would be unfortunate as well as unnecessary.

In any case, whilst catching up with new L&O:CI, there’s also been the chance to see some of the old stuff and it just highlights the difference between ‘solid enough’ and the quality they produced before. It also goes to show what makes for good television.

The old episode is from season four, originally broadcast five years ago and is called The Good Child. A couple are killed and as they were in a witness protection program suspicion falls on the mob. As it turns out it has to do with their adopted daughters and her real parents who wanted to make money off the child because of the wealth of the original couple. Even though I’ve butchered the whole story it’s worth watching again. (You can get season 4 on DVD as a box-set – better than what you were going to use the money for, anyway!)

The set-up of the story and the brilliant acting by all involved gets you into the deal. You know when you’re watching something enjoyable if it leaves a mark on you to last. What all the L&O franchises do is mark their stories with good humour and L&O:CI in particular seems to relish in giving some juicy one-liners to the cast. This story is a great example with Eames really stirring things up with some of the lines she throws in. It’s a good balancing bit with the intense and serious approach of Goren who can also play the fool, but you know there’s method to his madness.

Yet what really left the mark for me was at the resolution of the episode when Goren and Eames apprehend the suspects and manage to get them to give themselves away through the divide and conquer approach. As the wheels fall off their plans one of the guilty parties wrestling against the cuffs and trying to get to the one who’s let him down screams ‘An eggcup!’ You really have to be there to watch it – it is played out so deliciously and it;s so funny! Indeed watching it and appreciating how they have to be careful of cussing restrictions and all, there’s enough gusto in it to appreciate what he probably would have been saying for real if such regulations need not be observed!

That’s good storytelling – that’s what makes L&O:CI so good to watch and I hope they do their last season the right way and it does justice to the outstanding stories they have delivered in the past.




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