Law & Order: Criminal Intent is an American television series set in New York City. Criminal Intent premiered on September 30 2001. It is the second spin-off of the long-running crime drama Law & Order. The show currently stars Vincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Nicholson, and Eric Bogosian. Goldblum joins the cast this upcoming season, replacing Chris Noth as Nicholson's partner.
The first six seasons of the show aired on NBC. From October 4, 2007, to the end of 2007, however, new episodes of Criminal Intent could only be seen on the USA Network; starting January 9, 2008, these episodes began being rerun on NBC. In addition, re-runs of all seven seasons of the show continue to be aired on the USA Network and Bravo.
The opening narration each week has been spoken by Steven Zirnkilton since 2001.
follows a distinct division of the New York City Police Department
: the "Major Case Squad". The Major Case Squad investigates high-profile cases (in most cases murder
, just like the regular Law & Order
in this sense), such as those involving VIPs
, local government officials and employees, the financial industry, and the art world; though sometimes the cases are similar to the cases from the original Law & Order
show as well. Unlike the other shows in the Law & Order franchise
, as of Season 5 Criminal Intent
episodes typically alternate between two teams of detectives: Team A episodes chronicle the cases of Robert Goren
and Alexandra Eames
, while team B episodes follow the exploits of Zach Nichols and Megan Wheeler
. Originally, team B followed Mike Logan and his partners, Carolyn Barek
, Wheeler, and Nola Falacci
The series also gives significant attention to the actions and motives of the criminals, rather than focusing exclusively on the police and prosecution, and the information they have, as in the other Law & Order series. A feature of each Criminal Intent episode is that the cold open always involves a series of cut-scenes that show events from the suspects' and victims' lives, leading up to the crime. Clues to the crime's eventual solution can often be found in this teaser sequence. Criminal Intent episodes do not usually contain trials. Unlike other Law & Order series, most Criminal Intent episodes end in confessions rather than plea bargains or verdicts.
As with all the Law and Order series, the Criminal Intent title card features an opening voiceover by Steven Zirnkilton. Uniquely, this is the only one of the four series up to now not to open with the line In the criminal justice system...
In New York City's war on crime, the worst criminal offenders are pursued by the detectives of the Major Case Squad. These are their stories.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
was created by René Balcer
and Dick Wolf
in 2001. Balcer served as the show's executive producer, showrunner and head writer for its first five seasons. The show dominated its original time slot on Sundays at 9:00pm for its first three seasons (routinely beating its competition Alias
and The Sopranos
in households and in the 18-49 demos), and was often the highest rated show of the night, with an average audience of 15.5 million viewers.
Beginning in its fourth season, it faced stiff new competition from ABC's night-time soap opera Desperate Housewives, a show that soon became the number one drama on television. Ratings for Criminal Intent further eroded in the fifth season when Chris Noth joined the cast in alternating episodes as Det. Logan. Noth's episodes routinely scored much lower ratings than D'Onofrio's. Despite stiff competition and Detective Goren's reduced presence, the series maintained respectable ratings through the fifth season, enough to get it renewed for a sixth season on NBC.
Balcer left the show at the end of the fifth season, and the show was handed off to Warren Leight, a longtime Criminal Intent staffer. Under Leight's leadership, the show acquired a new, more melodramatic tone--the mystery aspect of the show was simplified in favor of more personal stories involving the detectives, notably Goren, who endured his mother's long agony from cancer culminating with her death in the last episode (for Goren and Eames) of the sixth season, "Endgame" ["Renewal" is the season finale]. The show's look and editing style also changed in an effort to ape the newer but more-watched CSI franchise.
Since NBC had acquired the rights to Sunday Night Football for the 2006-2007 season, Law & Order: Criminal Intent was moved to a new time slot on Tuesdays at 9:00pm, to serve as a lead-in to SVU. For its first six outings, it faced CBS's The Unit and baseball on Fox. The show held its own against such competition. In late October, Fox's smash hit House MD moved opposite Law & Order: Criminal Intent. It was hoped that the show could maintain second position, beating the then-marginal The Unit but to no avail--though the show remained the most profitable to the Law & Order franchise, the show's ratings suffered a steep drop and regularly finished fourth in its time slot. By the end of the sixth season, Law & Order: Criminal Intent saw its lowest ratings ever.
In May, 2007, NBC faced a choice of renewing either Criminal Intent or the original Law & Order, which had seen a ratings increase in the last few outings of its seventeenth season. Ultimately, because of weak ratings, NBC passed on Criminal Intent and picked up Law & Order. Because new episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent were still a profit center for the NBC Universal owned studio that produces the series, Law & Order: Criminal Intent was moved to the NBC Universal owned USA Network after six seasons on NBC where it attracted a much larger audience. The remaining episodes from the seventh season will begin screening on June 8. The show was stopped in December 2007 due to the writer's strike. In Canada Law & Order: Criminal Intent airs new original episodes on CTV at 10PM Thursdays.
For its move to the USA network, the "heavier" sounding version of the "Law & Order:CI" theme used for the show's opening credits was replaced by the version used on the short-lived Law & Order: Trial By Jury.
It was announced on May 22 that USA network had renewed Criminal Intent for an eighth season. The series has found, what in many ways, is a better home on USA network, as the seventh season was the top rated television series on basic cable, more than quadrupling the audience for the 10PM Thursday slot on USA network as compared to the ratings for the previous year. Nielsen Ratings for the week of July 13, 2008, showed that Criminal Intent is ranked 6th overall on top 20 cable ratings, with a viewer base of 4.899 million viewers. The network ordered 16 episodes which will begin screening in November 2008. All key cast members from the seventh season will be returning, except for Chris Noth, who will be replaced by Jeff Goldblum. At the end of the seventh season, Leight, who left to focus on In Treatment, will be replaced by new executive producers Walon Green and Robert Nathan.
- Det. Robert Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) is a quirky, extraordinarily intelligent investigator and criminal profiler, known for his instinct and insight. Often, Goren's intuition, rather than solid evidence, turns out to be the case-breaker (as is usually the case in the other two series). Each episode, Goren typically employs his knowledge of an unusually wide range of topics, from theoretical physics, chemistry, and literature to history, psychology, and multiple foreign languages. Goren once served in the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, stationed in Germany and South Korea, and worked in the NYPD's Narcotics Division before transferring to Major Cases (in the first season episode "The Insider" it is revealed that he worked on three undercover operations resulting in 27 arrests and convictions). The Robert Goren character is very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes; he notices tiny—yet important—details ignored by others, and possesses broad encyclopedic knowledge. Frequently, Goren obtains crucial information and confessions by psychologically manipulating and provoking suspects and their associates. Mental illness seems to run in Goren's family; his mother suffered from schizophrenia.
- Det. Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe) is a quiet, practical partner who generally seems to mesh well with Goren, despite the noticeable personality differences between the two, and worked in the NYPD's Vice Division for four years before transferring to Major Cases. Her character is much like the screen portrayals of Holmes's partner Doctor Watson: a lesser equal, overshadowed by the charismatic presence of a prodigious partner. While still an assertive and no-nonsense cop and the senior partner of the pairing, much of Eames's dialogue consists of sarcastic, pun-heavy observations delivered at dramatically opportune moments (much like Law & Order's Det. Lennie Briscoe character). There are occasional hints of a strong affection, and even jealousy, between the two partners—but their relationship has never become romantic. Their working relationship is more formal than that of the lead detectives in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, who typically address each other by name and have strong emotional interplay. Goren and Eames are formal, and typically address each other by surname, but when Eames observes Goren as particularly stressed, she calls him "Bobby". She is a legacy officer: her father and late husband were both cops. In the third season (2003-2004), Eames embarked on a surrogate pregnancy for her sister and brother-in-law and, before her maternity leave, was assigned to desk duty at the police station; her work in the field with Goren was covered by Det. G. Lynn Bishop (portrayed by Samantha Buck) in episodes 5-11 of the season.
- Capt. James Deakins (Jamey Sheridan) is Goren and Eames's immediate supervisor; he periodically checks their progress during investigations. At the end of Season 5 (2005-2006), Deakins retired rather than battle a conspiracy to frame him. The vendetta stemmed from an episode in which Deakins—torn between loyalty and integrity—reluctantly allowed Goren and Eames to imprison his "friend" Frank Adair (a former Chief of Detectives), by refusing to cover up his misdeeds. Adair used his connections to plant false evidence of Deakins's corruption; Deakins refused to tarnish the department by fighting the charges.
- Ron Carver (Courtney B. Vance) is an idealistic, by-the-book ADA who pressures Goren and Eames for additional evidence, as Goren and Eames use instincts to a degree to develop theories to solve their cases. Like Anita Van Buren, from Law & Order, Carver graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. No reason has been given for Carver's departure at the end of Season 5 (2005-2006).
- Capt. Daniel Ross (Eric Bogosian) is Deakins's successor as Major Case Squad commander. He is given the command as a reward for a successful three-year stint as head of a Joint Task Force on International Money Laundering; he took Det. Megan Wheeler with him to the MC Squad.
- Det. Mike Logan (Chris Noth) is a troubled detective who formerly worked in the homicide division of Manhattan's 27th precinct (from 1990–1995, on Law & Order). He was banished to the NYPD's career graveyard (Staten Island) after publicly punching a homophobic politician who had murdered a gay man who Logan had grudgingly come to respect; however, Logan redeemed himself by solving a dirty-cop murder-conspiracy case (the NBC TV movie Exiled: A Law & Order Movie). He was transferred from Staten Island to the NYPD's Domestic Disputes department. Logan first appeared on Criminal Intent in the fourth-season episode "Stress Position," through his romantic involvement with a nurse employed at a prison being investigated by Goren and Eames. At the beginning of season five, he was officially transferred to the Major Case Squad at the behest of Capt. Deakins, in the episode "Grow". In addition, Logan was involved in the "officer-involved shooting" used to fuel the career-ending conspiracy against Capt. Deakins.
- Det. Carolyn Barek (Annabella Sciorra) is Mike Logan's first partner in the Major Case Squad and a brilliant criminal profiler who ascended from the hard streets of Brooklyn's Cobble Hill to the high ranks of the NYPD and beyond, spending two post-9/11 years with the FBI. Why she left the Major Case Squad is unknown.
- Det. Megan Wheeler (Julianne Nicholson) is Mike Logan's second partner in the Major Case Squad. Wheeler transfers in with her captain-mentor, Daniel Ross. She is by-the-book, and is reluctant to bend procedural rules, unlike Det. Logan. She left at the end of the 2006-07 season to go to Europe for follow-up work with the Joint Task Force, where she'd worked with Capt. Ross and replaced with Det. Nola Falacci (Alicia Witt). She returns on the episode "Contract"; the absence was written in to cover Julianne Nicholson's maternity leave.
- Det. Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum). Will soon join the cast replacing Det. Logan.
It has been released that the new season of Law & Order: CI
will premiere on USA Network
at 10:00pm EST on November 6
The real NYPD "Major Case Squad"
The NYPD has a "Major Case Squad" but unlike the Major Case Squad on Criminal Intent
, they only handle the following types of cases:
- Kidnappings, as directed by the chief of detectives
- Burglary or attempted burglary of a bank or bank safe
- Larceny by extortion, or attempted larceny by extortion, from a bank
- Robbery, or attempted robbery, of a bank by an armed perpetrator
- Burglary of a truck contents over $100,000
- Larceny of truck contents over $100,000
- Robbery of truck and contents by hijacking
- All robberies in warehouse depots, or similar locations, where the objects of the crime is a truck or its contents
- All commercial burglaries in which the value of the property stolen exceeds $100,000
- Art theft
The "Major Case Squad" does not investigate homicides. All homicide investigations are conducted by precinct detective squads and borough homicide squads.
- 2005 Edgar Award for Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay (René Balcer and Elizabeth Benjamin, for "Want")
- 2002 Maggie Award for the "The Third Horseman", from Planned Parenthood
- 2006 Banff Television Award for Best Drama. for "In The Wee Small Hours"
- 2006 Reims International Television Festival, Best Drama Episode "In The Wee Small Hours"
- 2005 Edgar Award for Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay (René Balcer and Gerry Conway, for "Conscience"; René Balcer and Warren Leight, for "Consumed"; René Balcer and Warren Leight, for "Pas De Deux")
- 2004 Edgar Award for Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay (René Balcer and Gerry Conway, for "Probability")
- 2004 Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Series, Drama (Vincent D'Onofrio)
- 2003 Edgar Award for Best Television Episode (René Balcer, for "Tuxedo Hill")
- 2002 Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series (Courtney B. Vance)
- 2002 People's Choice Award, Best New Series
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
has been shot on film in 16:9 format since at least 2004, when it was first broadcast in HDTV
. Standard definition NBC stations aired the episodes cropped to 4:3 until 2006, when all Law & Order
series began airing episodes letterboxed
for SD. Reruns of those episodes which were cropped to 4:3 have subsequently been aired letterboxed as well.
On June 15
, Mary McCormack
made a guest appearance in the episode "Contract", as Mary Shannon, her character from In Plain Sight
. At the time of the original airing, In Plain Sight
followed Criminal Intent
on the USA Network.
In July 2005, NBC Universal sold the format of Law & Order: Criminal Intent to French channel TF1 Alma Productions to launch a localized French version of the drama. The version came with its own native language title (Paris enquêtes criminelles) and actors. The first season, consisting of eight episodes, went into production and premiered in 2007. The show mirrors the content of the original US stories, although it is set in Paris and is adjusted for language and culture. Vincent Perez plays Vincent Revel (French equivalent of Vincent D'Onofrio's role, Robert Goren). Sandrine Rigaux played Claire Savigny (French equivalent of Kathryn Erbe's character, Alex Eames) during the first season. A crossover between Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Paris, enquêtes criminelles was produced in preparation for April 2007.
Vincent Perez on the subject of differences between his character Ravel and Goren (translated from French), "I've watched very little of the original series so as not to be influenced, but I had the impression that Goren was very cerebral. Ravel is more instinctive and perhaps, more vulnerable".
The show premiered in France in May 2007 and has become a major success for TF1. A second season has been ordered. Sandrine Rigaux will be replaced by Audrey Looten, who will play Mélanie Rousseau.
A Russian version of L&O: CI
(shot in Moscow with Russian actors) premiered in March 2007, where it was shown back to back with the Russian version of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
, to become one of Russia's top-rated series. As a result, the initial order of eight episodes has been expanded to some 40 episodes.
Other international versions of the show are presently in negotiations.
In addition, dubbed versions of the original series are available in over 150 countries.