Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Final Year

Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Final Year
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With assembly line consistency, the Law & Order franchise continues to churn out material. With so much of it now in syndication and spread across so many channels and regions in a seemingly never-ending bombardment, it's no wonder NBC decided to conclude Criminal Intent in its tenth season. The fact that this season only contained eight episodes is an indicator that the network wanted to quickly bump the show from its line-up. After a lengthy hiatus from the series, Detective Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) makes his return to the Major Case Squad, bumping Jeff Goldblum from the cast of the prior two seasons, joining his original partner, Detective Eames (Kathryn Erbe). Goren's return to the force is somewhat muted by his departmental-mandated therapy sessions, which find him in a Doctor's office spilling his innermost thoughts on his life and, more to the point, how his chosen career both helps and hinders his well-being. It's an interesting conceptual addition to Criminal Intent, one that had the potential to propel the series from its humdrum, straight-from-the-headlines storylines into something beyond the superficial and formulaic. Sadly, with only eight episodes, Goren's therapy sessions do little more than scratch the surface of what could have potentially breathed new life into the franchise. Nevertheless, the writers made sure to pack the final season with stories that would find Goren and Eames exposing NYC's diabolical criminals and bringing them to justice. A call girl's murder takes the duo behind-the-scenes of the fashion industry, a wine connoisseur is found dead in his locked cellar and the murder of a bank executive in charge of a Catholic Church's money are just some examples of the plot lines this season. The series is capped-off by an episode that finds the creators of an Internet dating site fighting with twin brothers who feel they deserve a piece of the fortune (Mark Zuckberberg vs. the Winklevoss twins, anyone?) that sort of slumps and fades out without providing any form of closure to the series other than the notion that Goren and Eames will keep on truckin', fighting the good fight. The Final Year is a swan song compilation and it's resoundingly clear that its creators wanted to go back to basics before sending it off into the sunset. It's just a shame that it took them until their last season to finally get things (somewhat) right. (Shout! Factory)