How I Like “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” – Let Me Count the Ways

The long-running 10-season (2001~2011) series of Law and Order: Criminal Intent have a special place in my heart. Having completed watching the entire 5 seasons on Netflix and learned all the criminal intents or psychology, I can now summarize what I learned from the series and why I liked the characters and stories.

1. The fine detectives, Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Zack Nichols (Jeff Goldblum) and Mike Logan (Chris Noth) maybe just as human or even more damaged than the criminals they were trying to catch. I guess that’s what makes them so good at catching the bad guys; they can get into the minds of the criminals.

2. Each episodes starts out with some clues and usually the death(s) of some victim(s), before the “Major Case” squad come in to solve the crime. This involves the audiences to jointly solve the crime too. The downside is that too many details/characters are shown too quickly in the first few minutes and one may need to go back to review the early to tie the story together.

3. The extensive use of the CSI (or CSD) to provide the evidences and drop the clues here and there make the story interesting – better than CSI whose heroes are the CSI technicians who went beyond their charter to solve the crime on their own – not very realistic.

4. Robert Goren is very believable in his role as a borderline insane detective in getting into the minds of the criminals especially in catching his “White Whale,” Nicole Wallace. I just loved how Goren faced his own demon (like being a son of a serial killer) while battling the wit of Nicole Wallace. Wow, what a great bunch of episodes.

5. The partnership between Robert Goren and Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe) was one of mutual trust, admiration and support. They worked well together though there were some episodes when they ran into conflicts but they ultimately resolved their differences.

6. Jeff Goldblum and Chris Noth were backups to Goren on some seasons to spice up the series. They are not as good as Goren but do have their own personality and “baggage.”

7. The moral dilemmas are the “grey” areas that most people have trouble with. Often doing the right things means harming the ones you love. The writers of the show have fun pushing the envelope and exposing/exploiting the human character weaknesses.

8. I strongly believe that the borderline between a regular Joe to a heinous criminal is a very thin line. It doesn’t take much for one to cross it. For examples, greed, false perception, and thinking they’re too smart to be caught are often the reasons why one commit a heinous crime. By watching this kind of show, I became aware of the “triggers” that cause one to become the criminal that these smart, relentless major-case squad pursue.

This Law and Order: Criminal Intent is a true classic, thanks to the great writing and acting. I utterly enjoyed most of the episodes.