“In the criminal justice system the worst criminal offenders are pursued by the detectives of the Major Case Squad. These are their stories.”
A spin-off from the successful Law and Order franchise, Law & Order: Criminal Intent did fairly well, surviving a move to the USA Network from home NBC to last 10 seasons. But signs were present that the bloom was off the rose beginning in Season Seven, the first time the network ordered a season of less than twenty episodes. And those numbers kept declining until Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Tenth Season which was granted a mere eight episodes with which to send off the series.
And what better way to send it off than to bring back the two detectives who started it all? And so after a year’s absence from the show, Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio, Men in Black) and Detective Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe, Stir of Echoes) re-teamed to lead the show out.
It was a good call for the most part, as the chemistry between D’Onofrio and Erbe reads as clear as ever. It’s obvious these two roles were slipped on like well-worn gloves and their interactions are believable and engaging.
Less fortunate are the choices for the cases. More than once Eames cracks wise with some variation of “Why did we get called here?” and the viewer tends to agree as none of the cases are very involved and puzzling. With only eight episodes, I expected each to be chock-filled with intrigue, suspense, maybe an explosion or two, but no. That could be my own expectations, sure, but I was honestly surprised the series goes out with a whimper instead of a bang.
However the series’ end and the collection as a whole accomplished one thing I am sure those involved were hoping for…it left me wanting more. The addition of Dr. Paula Gyson (Julia Ormond, First Knight) as Goren’s department-appointed shrink was a welcome one. She reminded me of the Captain Christopher Pike character in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek, someone who wants to prove they can figure out Kirk (or Goren) where no one else has succeeded. However they never get further in their thought process than their own potential success, and as a result they are baffled and uncomfortable when the challenge turns on them.
Goren and Gyson’s interactions are at times almost uncomfortable to watch, but I wanted to see more of them. This attempt to get at the heart of what makes Goren a brilliant detective but kind of a failure at life provided the through-line for otherwise stand-alone episodes, and I would have happily watched more of their dynamic.
Eight is a weird number of episodes for a network to order and I can’t help feel that, like “one”, it too is a lonely number. This set felt like there should have been more. So watch Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Tenth Year knowing it will be quick viewing but you may leave disappointed there isn’t more.
The standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is as clear as you could ask for, with a palette leaning heavily toward the grayer end of the spectrum. The audio comes in two tracks, which is a nice surprise. There was never a time I thought I really needed 5.1 Surround instead of 2.0 Stereo, but I was pleased with its inclusion nonetheless.
Far and away more disappointing than the series’ end is the complete lack of bonus features on this release. The show ran ten years…no retrospectives, no commentaries, no episode galleries? Really?
All in all I can’t help but think the series deserved a better send-off but I’m grateful it got one at all. Too many shows are simply yanked, and at least Law & Order: Criminal Intent got the chance to send the characters out in style.