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End of a Cop Show Era? Goodbye to Law & Order: Criminal Intent

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USA

I’m not a fan of phony eulogies, and so I will confess up front that I was not a huge fan of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which just ended its run on USA. It’s partly that I could never sign on to its central selling point, the performance of Vincent D’Onofrio as Goren, who had his curtain call this last season; what some fans saw as intensely psychological interrogations, I saw as D’Onofrio solving crimes by overacting. But I do admire the L&O franchise in general for being well-made, well-written police procedurals, and even if it wasn’t my cup of police-precinct java, I respected L&O:CI for switching up the franchise’s case-over-character format, to the extent that it was allowed to vary.

Is it the end of an era? Although police shows are in no danger of disappearing on TV, the fall season does feature more dramas than usual outside the cop/lawyer/doctor format. And with the original L&O gone and the CSI franchises on the wane, it does at least feel like a particular phase in TV-cop history is fading, that of the mega-procedural franchise of the ’00s. (The original L&O, of course, dated back a decade earlier.)

What we’re seeing more of, now anyway, are fewer cop shows aiming to become empires in the FRANCHISE NAME: CITY mold, and more crime shows (like NBC’s upcoming Prime Suspect) that are driven more by the personalities of their lead investigators. In which case, L&O:CI may have been both an example of a fading breed and a sign of things to come. If you stuck with the show for the past decade—even through the Goldblum era—how did you feel it went out?

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