How to fix Law & Order: Criminal Intent

Look I don’t know USA Network’s plans for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” but I know what mine are; fan-fiction.

If USA Network intends on keeping the current fans of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and trying to rake in some new fans. They’re approach at it is all wrong.

There are too many things wrong with the show as of right now. In my opinion, USA Network’s best season of “Criminal Intent” was season 7. Season 8 was okay, for Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Nicholson and their episodes anyway. Right now I’m about to do some explaining so hang on:

The problems:
1. Season 8 had too many people in charge of a different set of episodes, I’m talking producers, writers, executive producers, you name it.

2. USA Network was airing the episodes out of order. For example episodes featuring Vincent D’Onofrio; one episode he had a beard (and forgive me D’Onofrio) and he seemed fatter and two weeks later he shaved and looked healthier, but then the cyle would repeat two week later and he’d have the beard back. Also episodes featuring Julianne Nicholson, she would have longer hair and looked more into her pregnancy (at the time) and two weeks later she’d have shorter hair and she looked like she hadn’t been pregnant yet, again the cycle would repeat and she’d have longer hair and look pregnant again.

3. The writing style from different episodes changed. One episode would be dull and two weeks later it would be ‘interesting’. Peter Jankowski, Michael S. Chernuchin, John David Coles, and Ed Zuckerman were the executive producers for the Nichols/Wheeler(Eames) episodes and the majority of those episode were satisfactory, a few needed some extra help but they were fine. Peter Jankowski, Walon Green, and John David Coles (the show’s current executive producers) were in charge of the Goren/Eames episodes of the season which were neutral; they needed a lot of help, they basically drained the episodes to boredom worst one of the season for Goren/Eames was “All In”. The best episodes for Goren/Eames of the season would be either “Identity Crisis”, “Folie a Deux” and/or “Family Values”; that’s just sad that most fans can’t say they enjoyed season 8 of CI to it’s full extent.

1. As of season 9 the show has taken a different turn, a turn for the worse. The two-part premiere episode “Loyalty” long-time veteran stars Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe exited the series, which April 6th was a said day for LOCI fans. Eric Bogosian who was with the show since the start of season 6 exited in part 1 of the premiere, his character was murdered. Bogosian’s replacment is Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The show’s baton was handed to Jeff Goldblum . Julianne Nicholson left the cast after having her second child she was replaced by Saffron Burrows. What happened? D’Onofrio left the cast and Erbe & Bogosian were fired, or so it was told. There is nothing wrong with the current cast, it just need Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe to alternate episodes with Jeff Goldblum and Saffron Burrows.

2. Again, the writing style has changed for the worse; worse than season 8! As fans of the show we can all say that the character Detective Zachary Nichols is not acting as he did in season 8. In season 8, Nichols was this happy-go-lucky quirky cop how loved putting the cuffs on people, going to the movies in the middle of the case, and going all over Manhattan just to play a piano or keyboard. In season 9, he turned into a normal office cop; he lost his ‘zen’! Saffron Burrows’s Detective Serena Stevens doesn’t help the partnership, it worsens it; her character has so much intellect yet Stevens has no ‘umph’ to go with those smarts! I do applaud Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s Captain Zoe Callas though; this kick-ass yet cool and easy going commanding officer of this criticized squad known as Major Case. I’m basically saying – the writing is not good for these actors portraying these characters.

The majority of fans have seen CI from it’s 2001 premiere to present and we all know if we compared the NBC days, the early USA Network days, and the show presently we’d all ask ourselves, “What the hell happened?” Which is why the ratings and discussion of Law & Order: Criminal Intent have decreased terribly.

The solutions:

If USA Network would just listen to the fans of Criminal Intent for five minutes maybe the show can go back to the season 4/5 style instead of it’s current style.

1. Cast wise, the show needs to alternate actors. Honestly Vincent D’Onofrio (and Kathryn Erbe) need(s) to alternate episodes with Jeff Goldblum (and Saffron Burrows). D’Onofrio needs to rejoin the cast and get issued a new contract. I don’t know what happened between the network and Erbe so I can’t say for her – but she needs to come back too. It’s also good for Goldblum if D’Onofrio returns, he (and Burrows) could do 8 episodes and rest! D’Onofrio (and Erbe) could do the other 8. The network claims it’s money for a cast, how come the other USA Network shows have more cast members? What’s 5 cast memebers? In Plain Sight had seven for it’s second season until Todd Williams and Holly Maples left (followed by Christian de la Fuente) and Leslie Ann Warren dropped to a recurring role.

2. The writing style was HORRIBLE this ninth season. By next season, someone should call Rene Balcer or Warren Leight to come back as showrunner and left Walon Green drop down to co-executive producer. What he calls an ‘episode of CI‘ I call ‘trash’. Or let D’Onofrio or Goldblum be an executive producer – something to pick up ratings! DO NOT have 2 sets of executive producers some for Goldblum episodes other’s for D’Onofrio episodes – most who seem not to give a damn (Walon Green). TEENAGERS could (some already do – fanfiction) write better episodes of CI than the professionals do!

3. USA Network – DO NOT THROW UP IT TAKES $$$$$$ Your other shows cost WAY more than CI does. (Depending on the taping area and finances). As a long time fan of Law & Order: Criminal Intent I must say I am disappointed on how season 9 is! And I guess others fans feel the same as I do – or the ratings wouldn’t be in the proverbial toilet. By season 10 my ‘solutions’ need to be done for CI to bring back viewers! Or forget having viewers if you want to keep it at the rate it’s going – rumor has it that the show is canceled as of July 6th. If those rumors are false, I guarantee by the 10th season they won’t be.

USA Network/Dick Wolf/NBCU – You should be ashamed for letting this happen to Law & Order: Criminal Intent, it’s just as well – you should have just canceled the show after “Loyalty” (Part 2). I tell you if you’re not going to try to save it, it needs to be canceled after “Three-In-One” (season 9 finale, rumored – series finale).

– Joshua Morton



  1. gahks
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It’s really sad what’s happened to ‘CI,’ perhaps even sadder than the ignominious and unjust fate of ‘L&O.’ At least the mothership had the opportunity to end on a high note, after Rene Balcer revitalised the show. ‘CI,’ on the other hand, has been allowed to simply erode in quality more and more, with the departure of too many key actors in a matter of two or three seasons, and too much change too quickly as result. It’s as if Dick Wolf has completely taken his eye off the ball on this show.

    What I think explains Nichols’ sudden character change between seasons 8 and 9 is the fact that Ed Zuckerman is no longer on the writing staff for ‘CI.’ Although I have not seen the Nichols episodes properly (as they haven’t received a national airing here in the UK), I would imagine leaving this key character with the other writing team (Green et al.) would greatly affect the show dynamics, for better or worse. Unfortunately it looks as though the latter has occurred.

    As for solutions:
    The only real way to fix the show is to bring back Balcer. Warren Leight has had plenty of success with ‘In Treatment’ and is now producing the FX show ‘Lights Out,’ so even if he could, I doubt he would return! The show was Balcer’s vision as much as Wolf’s, if not more so; he needs to help the show rediscover the winning formula of the first four seasons. It’s a long shot, because he probably has his hands full with ‘LOLA’ as it is, but this surely has to happen, unless Wolf wants the downward slide of ‘CI’ to continue in that direction.


    CI Fan

    • mortonsloci
      Posted June 19, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink | Reply

      You are so right! I especially liked Mr. Leight’s work though – especially for the Chris Noth episodes. He really brought back who Mike Logan really was. This ladies man, non-caring for crap, cop who knows his way around crooks in both NYC and NYPD. I’m thank Warren Leight for that. I thank Rene Balcer in general though – people say season 5 of CI wasn’t good – to me that’s when Rene Balcer’s best work came into play especially for “In the Wee Small Hours” – I don’t think he could have done a better job than what he did writing that episode. And Balcer and Leight both collided and wrote a few episodes together which really were great. I wish that Dick Wolf would be full executive producer for L&O: Los Angeles and let Rene Balcer stay in New York and go back to Criminal Intent And somebody needs to fire Neal Baer (who was rumored to be going to CI – I hope not, the show really will be done for then – maybe not though) from SVU. I tell of all people to write episodes for the whole Law & Order Universe – Dick Wolf really needs to. Wolf, Rene Balcer, Warren Leight, and Robert Palm (SVU’s first EP) have it down pat.

      To be honest if CI and SVU keep going the way they are going – they are going to be gone. Once Meloni and Hargitay leave in May 2011 – September 2011 SVU’s ratings are going to be LOW!

  2. Charlene
    Posted June 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree with you 100%! I agree with Gahks – if anyone needs to come back it’s Rene Balcer (and then D’Onofrio – lol). I wish they would bring D’Onofrio back, Erbe too! It’s not fair! We were wronged by the network and Dick Wolf and so were they! They want the remaining fans to suffer through that crap they call ‘sexy’ and ‘intriging’! BLECH!

    • mortonsloci
      Posted June 19, 2010 at 8:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Nice to know I have somebody behind me on this! I think you’re right about the ‘sexy’ and ‘intriguing’ stuff – it’s a little too much for a show like CI and they kinda aimed it at Saffron Burrows and her character Stevens. Which would be okay if the writing would support the actor! I think we’d like the writing of Rene Balcer more than Walon Green this season. And I would have rather if D’O/E were leaving they’d stick around this season – but the way the storylines are it makes me glad they are gone.

  3. gahks
    Posted June 20, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I agree, Josh, that ‘SVU’ too has its problems. I get the sense that Neal Baer has stayed on as showrunner for too long. He did a grand job with seasons 3-7, surprising viewers with challenging and intelligent plots, but like ‘CI,’ the show has continued to lose that magic quality since from around season 9. It’s become sensationalist drivel and overly obsessed with stunt casting (Sharon Stone being the latest horrific headline-grabbing example). Compare Stone to Lindsey Vonn’s workmanlike and unintrusive performance in the ‘L&O finale, “Rubber Room.” ‘SVU’ needs to find the brilliance of those great seasons, but I worry that it’s running out of steam fast. The show could really benefit from a change of writing staff, new blood and veterans alike (yeah, what happened to Robert Palm?) to freshen things up and revitalise it. That’s exactly what Balcer did with the mothership and boy, it worked.


    • mortonsloci
      Posted June 22, 2010 at 12:10 am | Permalink | Reply

      Amen! Law & Order: Criminal Intent just needs to be canceled now (in my opinion). From what I know Robert Palm was recently doing production (co-ex.) work the CBS’s NCIS. ???

  4. Carol Shell
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 12:20 am | Permalink | Reply

    The only way for Law and Order: CI to continue is to bring back Rene Balcher and Vincent D’Onfrio and Kathyrn Erbe and possibly even Olivia D’Abo.

    • mortonsloci
      Posted August 29, 2010 at 1:47 am | Permalink | Reply

      Rene Balcer is not leaving LA again to do CI (he left NYC after he wrote the mothership series finale to prep for LOLA).

      D’Onofrio and Erbe have already said they would not return to CI (as regulars).

      Olivia d’Abo’s not coming back either, she okayed her character being killed off in 2008.

      The only option left is to cancel the series (unless Walon Green decides to leave, which I doubt) and move on. Like some fans are trying to petition, for USA to replace CI with a “Law & Order: Miami” (as the Mothership was replaced with LOLA). A substitution if you will.

  5. Carol Shell
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 12:23 am | Permalink | Reply

    Bring back Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathyrn Erbe with Renee Balcher and possibly even revive “Nicole Wallace.” I really hated to see the show go down as it did.

    • mortonsloci
      Posted August 29, 2010 at 1:49 am | Permalink | Reply

      Again, Rene Balcer is not leaving LA again to do CI (he left NYC after he wrote the mothership series finale to prep for LOLA).

      D’Onofrio and Erbe have already said they would not return to CI (as regulars).

      Olivia d’Abo’s not coming back either, she okayed her character being killed off in 2008.

      The only option left is to cancel the series (unless Walon Green decides to leave, which I doubt) and move on. Like some fans are trying to petition, for USA to replace CI with a “Law & Order: Miami” (as the Mothership was replaced with LOLA). A substitution if you will.

      I hate the series went down as it did too! It had 8 good years (which could have been 6 if USA hadn’t opted to take the show from NBC)!

      Personally I’ll settle for 8 years of reruns instead of the show moving on with a tenth season to stagger in the ratings and suffer with poor writing.

  6. Virginia Ramirez
    Posted October 16, 2010 at 6:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

    If Vincent D Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe don’t come back to Law& order I will not see the show and just see the reruns that also apply to Chris Noth and Julianne Nicholson and I want all the characters to come back too.

    • mortonsloci
      Posted October 23, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      D’Onofrio and Erbe are back. IDK about anyone else.

  7. Carol Shell
    Posted October 24, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink | Reply

    I am so happy, just jubilent that Kathryn and Vincent are coming back due to all the people who let their feelings on the matter be known and did something about it. Thanks.

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