When Law & Order Criminal Intent announced the departure of four cast members earlier this year, I knew that the series was in trouble. Only six months passed before the USA Network considered canceling LOCI. Season 10 is rumored to be the final season of Law and Order: Criminal Intent. However, Jeff Wachtel, President of Original Programming for USA, is not committed to ending the show. According to TVSeriesFinale.com Wachtel said, “The plan is for this to be the series finale, but with a Dick Wolf franchise, one really never knows until it’s over.”
Because of the series’ uncertain future, Jeff Goldblum decided to leave the show. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Saffron Burrows contracts expired over the summer.
This is not a surprise considering that the new cast just couldn’t reach LOCI fans. The fans were not emotionally invested in the new characters like they were with Goren, Eames, Ross, Logan, and Wheeler.
Maybe LOCI executives got too cocky. After all, they’ve had actor/character changes in the past and the show never suffered big repercussions. For example, when Courtney B. Vance left the fans missed him, but they were able to live with the show without him. Another example is Jamey Sheridan, who played Captain Deakins during the early years of LOCI. Fans missed Sheridan when he left, but D’Onofrio, Erbe, and Noth were there to pick up the slack while Bogosian worked his way into the fold.
Allowing (or making) Erbe, Bogosian, D’Onofrio, and Nicholson to leave the show at the same time was one of the biggest mistakes that Law & Order Criminal Intent executives could have made. These four held the show’s original fan base. If executives thought they could catch new viewers with a large cast shake up they over estimated the television public. Nowadays, sitcoms are competing with a large multitude of reality game shows and celebrity reality show entertainment. A sex obsessed man isn’t going to watch Jeff Goldblum at One Police Plaza when he can watch The Girls Next Door. Lets face it, sex sells these days and the things that Law & Order doesn’t have is titillating sex and busty girls running around in tight clothes. However, what Criminal Intent does have is (or was) intriguing storylines, engaging characters, and quality programming that was cutting edge, but not overly offensive to sensitive adult viewers.
Another big mistake Law & Order Criminal Intent executives made was writing the final show that had Erbe, Bogosian, and D’Onofrio exit in such a disrespectful manner.
Captain Ross was gunned down like a dog in an alley. Bogosian earned his place on that show. They killed his character, Captain Danny Ross, for no good reason. They didn’t even give Captain Ross a proper funeral. Executives would argue that they didn’t have the television time for that. Hey, Captain Ross was a major character, so they should have made time. If sweeping Captain Ross under the rug like week old dust bunnies wasn’t enough, LOCI fans were forced to swallow the odd and somewhat lame exit of Goren and Eames. Alexandra Eames fired Bobby Goren and then she quit. Goren kissing Eames on the cheek was sweet, which made the gruel easier to swallow, but LOCI fans still had to eat it. These crappy exits were the final nail in the coffin as far as loyal Law & Order: Criminal Intent fans were concerned.
The only piece of good news is that Vincent D’Onofrio is coming back for the next season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Critics speculate that Jeff Wachtel and Dick Wolf are secretly hoping that D’Onofrio can save the series. Under different circumstances D’Onofrio would be able to pull it off. However, LOCI executives really screwed up the flow of the show. It will also take Erbe, Noth, and Nicholson to bring the Criminal Intent brand back to the eminence that it had. Other cast members, who remain nameless, are in negotiations to return, so who knows.
If by some miracle LOCI can be saved, lets hope that executives and producers of the show learned their lesson and never try to pull such an elaborate stunt again. The 10th season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent is expected to air in 2011.
“Law & Order: Criminal Intent No Season 11?” TVSeriesFinale.com
Christine Bude Nyholm, “Vincent D’Onofrio Returning to Law & Order,” Associated Content.
Gabrielle Rice, “Law and Order: Criminal Intent Shakes Up Cast and Loyal Viewers,” Associated Content.
“Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” Wikipedia.
Ken Tucker, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent Recap: Are You Missing Goren and Eames?” EW.com
“Law & Order Criminal Intent Loyalty,” allthingslawandorder.blogspot.com