I really enjoyed season 7, but what happened?
By the end of eight, you could see D'Onofrio had reached his limit, and I'm not surprised he decided to quit after this dog's breakfast of a season. The editing was sloppy, and the direction was careless. And what was with the horrid out-of-character scripts?
Firstly, no reference was made to the events in 'Frame'. Just one discussion with Eames about Bobby's obvious depression would have satisfied, but nada!
Worse still, the eps were all aired in a different order from which they were filmed. I highly suggest you watch them in the correct sequence, so you better appreciate Goren's slow (but silent)recovery from his grief: Faithfully, Folie a Deux, Identity Crisis, Alpha Dog, Playing Dead, Lady's Man, All In,and Family Values.
Of these episodes, my personal favorites were 'Lady's Man', where both Erbe and D'Onofrio get a chance to shine, and 'Family Values'. The latter was a little heavy-handed, but it featured many talented returning guest actors from previous seasons, and the 'aria' made me cry.
The worst episodes were 'Faithfully' which had annoying guest stars (plus Bobby now magically has a niece - continuity please). And then there was the dreadful 'All In' where a character called 'Josh Snow' is ostensibly 'Joey Frost' in a dreadful sequel (of sorts) to the S5 ep 'Cruise to Nowhere' - an insult to long-term viewers.
Still, even a bad S8 episode has a few good moments and VDO and Erbe are always worth watching. Take 'Family Values' for example. Even though the script was a wasted opportunity to explore the Bobby/Frank/Francis Goren parallels, the 'aria' featuring D'Onofrio and Sam Trammel is quietly outstanding.
As for the Nichols/Wheeler episodes - they are not too bad at all. Was Goldblum given the better scripts or did the new writers just feel that, being a new character, they had free range over Nichols? (because they obviously had little familiarity with the history of Goren and Eames).
Wheeler doesn't get enough character development given what's happened in her personal life, and she becomes even less relevant in S8. I preferred her paired with Noth/Logan. Still, at least she gives birth in her final episode ever. It's a shame Nicholson left the show at this point because her season 9 replacement left a lot to be desired.
My favorite Nichols episodes are the the ones featuring Eames/Erbe - 'Major Case' and 'Revolution'. Erbe and Goldblum worked well together, which is why I was shocked that she was dropped from the show after the first episode of S9. What were they thinking?
Still, Eames should only really ever be partnered with Goren and thank goodness they both returned for the far superior 10th season.
Despite all my complaints, I still get a lot out of S8, and rejoice that at least Ross and Rodgers were consistent. I will definitely be purchasing the DVDs to add to my collection (though have already legally downloaded them).
To conclude, despite its being the second weakest season of this show (Hello S9!), I still think it's simply a must to own all Goren/Eames eps, and 'Lady's Man' really is a treat for those who love the ambiguous relationship between our two favorite detectives.