Dick Wolf Hopes for Criminal Intent Reprieve, Says D'Onofrio & Erbe Have Never Been Better

Dick Wolf must be feeling a bit of deja vu this spring. Just as a year ago he was lobbying for NBC to pick up the original Law & Order for a 21st season (allowing it to set a record as TV’s longest-running drama series), the L&Overlord is now hoping that Criminal Intent‘s imminent 10th season won’t be — as announced by USA Network — its last.

“Being the unbridled optimist that I am, I still have hope that this is a ‘victory lap’ and not a ‘swan song,'” Wolf said during a Thursday conference call. “Based on the work so far, I think the audience is going to be very happy, relieved, and welcoming… and hopefully enough fans will come out so the powers-that-be reconsider their decision.”

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Weighing in Criminal Intent‘s favor, of course, is the much anticipated return of two original series leads, Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe (as Detectives Robert Goren and Alexandra Eames) — not that Wolf ever wanted them long gone in the first place.

“It was never a decision to have them disappear into the wilderness,” Wolf says of the duo’s single-season extraction, during which Jeff Goldblum rode solo as Detective Zach Nichols. Looking forward, Wolf says, “I don’t think Vincent and Katie have been any better ever in the series. [Criminal Intent] is back to the power of the first two seasons.”

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Of course, there is the none-too-small matter of getting Goren back onto the Major Cases Squad, fired as he was for insubordination at the start of Season 9. That segue is orchestrated by a new captain, Joseph Hannah (played by Jay O. Sanders), whom Goren knows from the police academy.

There’s also a bit of head-shrinking involved in Goren’s comeback. As Wolf explains, “In getting him back in the good graces of the police department, part of the agreement was for him to go back into psychological counseling.” As such, there will be one scene per episode where Goren meets with a therapist played by Julia Ormond (CSI: NY).

Those scenes, Wolf says, “will answer some questions that have been hanging since the first season, and over the course of [Season 10’s] eight episodes you’re going to see something about the redemptive power of psychotherapy. This is an attempt to move [Goren] back to the psychologically complete detective that he was in the first season of the show.”

Whether this run of episodes kicking off Sunday, May 1, at 8/7c, is a “swan song” or “victory lap,” Wolf says, “This has been a great experience…. There is a real power in seeing this show come back at full-octane, with stories that are really interesting.”

Will you be tuning in for Criminal Intent‘s return?