The upcoming tenth season will be the last for “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” – unless it isn’t.
Dick Wolf, the man behind the franchise, said there are no deals for the spin-off set in Major Case Squad to continue past the upcoming eight episodes, which begin May 1 on USA Network.
And yet he made what he called a “naked plea.”
“Being the unbridled optimist that I am, I still have a hope that this is a victory lap, not a swan song,” Wolf said in a conference call Thursday.
The season brings the return of Vincent D’Onofrio, who launched the series as Detective Robert Goren in 2001, but was replaced by Jeff Goldblum in 2009, and his original partner Detective Alex Eames, played by Kathryn Erbe.
Why We Love Goren:
Goren, who was fired for insubordination, is brought back by the new Captain Joseph Hannah (Jay O. Sanders), a friend of Goren’s from the Academy. As a condition of his return, Goren has to attend mandatory sessions with a police psychologist, played by Julia Ormond.
Wolf promised the shrink scenes would answer lingering questions about the character, who he thinks has aged well along with the show. “I hope people react the way I reacted to (this season),’Wow, these are the best shows in a long time.’”
Comparing Detective Goren to Peter Falk’s Columbo and Angela Lansbury’s Jessica Fletcher, Wolf said, “It’s great fun for an audience to watch a great character and a great actor get older.”
For his part, D’Onofrio joked about making the decision to return. “I didn’t have to think about it, my wife thought about it for me,” he said.
D’Onofrio said deciding to come back wasn’t difficult, based on the support he’s received from Wolf over the years. “It’s business and when you trust somebody on the other end and he gives you a call and says ‘This is what we’re thinking,’ you consider it. You take it very seriously,” he said.
Both men said they have not dwelled on the fact that it could really be the end. Although the “Law & Order” mothership was unceremoniously canceled by NBC last year, one season shy of Wolf’s long-sought after record for longest running TV show, he made sure to praise his bosses, NBC Universal Chairman Bonnie Hammer and USA Co-President Jeff Wachtel.
“We accepted the gig on this (last season) basis and I don’t mean to in any way sound ungrateful,” Wolf said, calling the mini-season “the best creative gesture that has ever been extended to me by any network in 30 years in the business.”
“Talk about a class move,” Wolf said.
The season begins with an episode titled “Rispetto” about a “rockstar” fashion designer (Jay Mohr). Other guest stars lined up for the season include Neal McDonough (“Band of Brothers”), Andrea Roth (“Rescue Me”), Jeri Ryan (“Leverage”) and Adrian Pasdar (“Heroes”). Chris Brancato (“Boomtown”) is taking over as executive producer and showrunner.
“Law & Order: Criminal Intent” returns at 9 p.m. on May 1 on USA.