The most entertaining and interesting show on television
Adam Dukovich | 09/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I would say that Law and Order: CI is, without a doubt, the best Law and Order spinoff and it is always a thrill to watch Det. Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) engage in another intellectual cat-and-mouse game with a brilliant, twisted killer. CI is, quite simply, must see tv. The first year had the show proving itself admirably. Goren and his partner, Alexandria Eames (Katherine Erbe) quickly become a modern-day Holmes and Watson duo, with Goren as the seemingly omniscient, stalwart detective and Eames lending a lot of humanity to the proceedings. Jamey Sheridan plays Goren and Eames' CO, a buttoned-down, more traditional cop. Courtney B. Vance plays the 'Order' aspect alone as Assistant District Attourney Carver. The leads have an undeniable chemistry, which adds to the show greatly. As a Law and Order show, however, it is the stories that make the show. The show stays true to the "ripped from the headlines" stories that made the original series so unique, but it broke with tradition by declaring that you would see the crime from the criminal's point of view. Although at first I was a bit skeptical about how this device would turn out, but it actually made the show more complex as seeing the crime would not solve it. Also, the show explored its characters, protagonists and villains alike, in a much more psychological manner than had been consistently done in either of the previous series. Finding out the motive for the crime was often more fascinating than a simple whodunit. This season laid a firm foundation for future seasons but is in itself a worthy buy.Quite simply, this is a show for people who like cultured, sophisticated dramas that challenge them to think about society. It is a show for those who appreciate a good character study and multilayered crime dramas. Above all, though, it is a show for anyone who can enjoy a great yarn and expertly crafted plot twists."
Great cast and writing make this series a winner!
Adam Dukovich | 11/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Only an actor as good as Vincent D'Onofrio can take what could have been just another TV cop and turn him into the most intriguing character on TV. I look forward every week to see how Bobby Goren's wiles will be used this time to bring the culprit to justice. Depending on what needs to be done, Goren can be arrogant, vulnerable, sympathetic, cruel, sweet, hilarious, or whip out some esoteric bit of knowledge that makes everything fall into place. I think of Goren as a frustrated actor who uses the interrogation room as his stage. D'Onofrio's voice can be hypnotic, going from a soft seductive purr to a clap of thunder in the space of one scene. His voice can be nearly as silkily mesmerizing as that of co-star Courtney B. Vance, and that's saying something!While for me D'Onofrio is the main attraction, it's not the only reason I like Criminal Intent. The plots are the best written of all the Law & Orders, using twists, turns, and red herrings worthy of the best mystery writers. While Kathryn Erbe as Eames may at first seem to be in Goren's shadow, I think as you watch her over several episodes, it becomes clear that her character is the perfect complement to Goren. She stays strong and grounded and tends to the details while Goren weaves together the big picture. This collection of the first year's episodes was a welcome treat for me. From the first episode, both the cast and stories were polished and well-crafted, as if the team had been together for a long time. I highly recommend this DVD collection."
Dick Wolf hones his art
Lynda Mills | Australia | 06/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
The third stream in the Law and Order franchise and the most polished of Dick Wolf's work.
Where "Law and Order" explores the full process of the justice system from investigation to conviction, "L&O: Special Victims Unit" examines the ethical deliberations that can come with it... Dick Wolf's new spin-off, "L&O: Criminal Intent" seems to focus now on the complexity of the premeditated crime.
Dick Wolf's style of narrative has been enhanced significantly from his previous two works to encompass the complexity of these mind-twisters. With such a huge amount of information to give the viewer, his new opening sequences can leave many people scratching their heads in confusion. The fast paced litany is always made clear in the end, though, and it is testimony of how far Wolf has come from the first Law and Order stream.
Like most good super-slueth stories, the main detective of this series, Detective Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio), is eccentric, brilliant and resourceful. His investigations advance beyond simple "smoking gun" deductions and move on to complex circumstantial evidence and criminal psychology... Bith in which Goren excels.
D'Onofrio is arguably the most skilled actor gracing television today, and Dick Wolf had the insight to let him both mold the character Robert Goren however he wished and to give him, quite simply, the freedom to act. Many of his more memorable quirks have been pure spur of the moment improvisation, causing a great deal of confusion to the camera men and other actors.
Goren/D'Onofrio's eccentricity and unpredictability makes this series an incredibly enjoyable one to watch, however, and you'll be hard pressed to find someone who does not appreciate it.
Though some might declare Detective Alex Eames (Kathryn Erbe) as the Watson of the duo, she is not quite as ornamental as the little doctor had been. Eames grants both stability and reality to the often dizzying thought processes of Goren. She excels at her role of being both the muscle and practical mind of the pair, and Kathryn Erbe has a unique talent for making lists of information interesting... Someone has to state the facts, and she just happens to be the best at the job!
Though I enjoy all of the Law and Order series, (L&O for its diversity, SVU for its characters and ethical explorations) Criminal Intent is my favourite...
Watch one interrogation scene featuring D'Onofrio at his best, and you'll see why."
Five stars just for the episodes
Naomi Tilley | Victoria, Australia | 12/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As one less than praising reviewer commented about most positive reviewers of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, I am already biased in my review of this show, because I am a die-hard fan. And Lord Almighty, do I ever love this show. Just to get the gushing out of the way right now - it is, without a doubt, my favourite show on tv at the moment.
Unfortunately I was not lucky enough to catch Criminal Intent right from the beginning. Having seen episodes of both the original Law & Order, and Law & Order: SVU, I wasn't at all interested when Law & Order: CI came to our screens in Australia. More fool me. I watched the show one night with my parents purely because there was nothing else on and I couldn't be bothered choosing a video to watch. I couldn't get over the quirky character of Goren, and found myself tuning in each week until I was well and truly hooked.
Another reviewer said it, and they were right - you either love Goren or you hate him. There is no in-between.
D'Onofrio's bizarre character got me hooked on CI, but I love it now for a much broader spectrum of things.
Criminal Intent is not the most original cop show that has ever been on TV, but it is definitely one of the most entertaining - depending on your own preferences, of course. And where the two previous Law & Order franchises have been ensemble casts, this is the first show that has relied so heavily on the performance of one actor to hold things together.
Also, from a completely personal point of view, I like the fact that Criminal Intent for the most part stays away from the courtroom. My greatest frustration with SVU was that more often than not they seemed to lose their cases once it went to court. There is no such frustration with CI. Whether or not Goren and Eames get their man (or woman), the show very rarely moves into the vicinity of courtroom drama. Consequently, 98% of the time the outcome of the show is more than satisfying.
First and foremost (naturally) there is Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Bobby Goren. (I like to imagine that perhaps he was named after his father - `Robert Goren Jr', or something similar - because I have yet to meet any man called Robert, who prefers to be known as `Bobby')
It has been absolutely fascinating to watch the character develop over the three seasons that the show has been running. Where, in the first season, Goren was something of an enigma, in the second and third seasons we have gradually been given a look-see into his psyche. Indeed, the fact of his mother's schizophrenia and his father walking out on them when he was only a child have served to be interesting catalysts for confrontations with suspects - most particularly, the episodes with Nicole Wallace/Elizabeth Hitchens.
Goren gives me the impression of a man who, knowing his mother's condition and knowing that schizophrenia is hereditary, is constantly teetering on the brink of that same mental illness. All his quirks and odd mannerisms, his phenomenal range of knowledge and his extraordinary intelligence are all signs of a man who runs the very real risk of a complete mental and emotional breakdown.
Kathryn Erbe is absolutely brilliant as Goren's partner, Detective Alex Eames. At first glance it might appear that she is little more than a shadow to Goren's all-encompassing presence, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It is more obvious in some episodes, but throughout the show, Eames is constantly the stabiliser to Goren's eccentricities. They are such complete opposites, and yet they are a perfect match for each other.
Bobby Goren is a great cop, but that is only the case because he has Alex Eames for a partner. This was particularly obvious in the third season episodes, during which Kathryn Erbe was on maternity leave. Whilst Samantha Buck did a reasonable job, it just wasn't the same. It seemed that the character of Bishop spent most of the time trailling around behind Goren like a lost puppy, who was never quite sure of where she was supposed to be. Not that this was surprising. It was summed up quite aptly in an early episode when, after Eames had announced her surrogate pregnancy and Goren wondered who his interim partner would be, Eames commented rather blithely, 'I pity the poor soul'. Too true.
Though it isn't always made blatantly obvious, it would have to be clear to anyone who pays attention that Goren and Eames know some fairly intimate details about each other's lives. It is partly due to this that their partnership works so well. This was what was lacking in the Goren/Bishop partnership of the third season. She knew next to nothing about the man she was working with, and constantly regarded him as a difficulty to be tolerated only until she could move on to better things. He, on the other hand, found himself in a bind more than once without Eames, and sorely missing her presence.
Goren's anger and frustration at not having Eames there to counter-balance him was very real, and only showed just how good they are together. (I particularly liked it when, in a moment of frustration, Goren picked something up and threw it in anger at Eames' empty desk)
Both characters are good, but they only attain brilliance when they are together, and I think that is what really makes this show so good.