Law & Order: Criminal Intent - The Third Year
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From the most successful franchise on television comes Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Follow Major Case Squad Detectives Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) and Alex Eames (Kathryn Erbe) as they tackle the most challenging criminal cases in New York City. Under the supervision of Captain James Deakins (Jamey Sheridan) and with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney Ron Carver (Courtney B. Vance), Goren and Eames pursue the city's most devious offenders in a cat-and-mouse game filled with treachery and surprising twists. A top twenty hit in the U.S., Criminal Intent has quickly become the smartest and most entertaining detective mystery on television both in America and abroad. Detective Goren's unique investigative style has placed him among the ranks of such classic detectives as Sherlock Holmes and Columbo. Join Goren and Eames as they outwit the criminal mind.
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Some of the highlights include an episode about architects, murder, and polygamy (Undaunted Meddle), a corporate travesty to challenge Enron (Mis-Labeled), an Anti-Semitic serial killer (A Murderer Among Us), a very unhappy family (Shrink-Wrapped), and a master con artist (The Saint). There were a few more star appearances: Judd Hirsch (Ordinary People), Stephen Colbert (tv's The Daily Show), and Brent Spiner (Star Trek). On the negative side, Kathryn Erbe gave birth to her second child during the season, so we got Samantha Buck for a few episodes instead. The show, to its credit, tried new things, some of which worked (the above shows) and some that didn't (the flat F.P.S. and Mad Hops, plus an embarassingly banal D.A.W.).
All in all, the third season was weaker than the first two, but real fans will enjoy its charms. If you are among them, check it out, but if you're wondering what this whole Criminal Intent thing is about, I'd recommend holding out until the second season is released.
However, unfortunately, this is a NBC-Universal project which means it's a Universal DVD property. For those that don't know - they are NOTORIOUS for beginning series on DVD and after a season or two, dropping them cold. No release for this series in going on two years now, it looks like another Universal casualty. Add that to classics like Dragnet (one season and out), Adam-12 (one season and out), Emergency (one and out); and even classic comedy series that deserved the best treatment: Leave It To Beaver - two seasons and no more. Universal does this time and time again and it's getting where I don't trust Universal when they begin a series release on DVD. Season Four for 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent', anyone???
This third year has episodes unique in how they twist themselves from what you might have expected: a cop with a sleep disorder; a woman in a vegetative state; the push for canonization of a religious figure; a psychiatrist and her psychologist husband's unorthodox game playing; a Svengali-like teen who gets girls to commit murder for him. This and much more with good guest turns by actors like Claire Bloom, Judd Hirsch, Karen Sillas, John Savage, and Margaret Colin.
Kathryn Erbe adds brilliant support as Vincent's partner and the series continues to be one of the strongest of the franchise.
Unlike some other CI lovers, I have no problem blending Noth and D'onofrio - their episodes offset each other well. My only fear is that this is a way of phasing Goren and Eames out, which would be a tragic mistake. Bobby and Alex are the best detectives on TV and I would hate to lose them.
Watch these episodes, they're all great. Go Goren!
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