Shout! Factory // 2010 // 690 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // December 16th, 2012
"Deconstructing crimes from inside the criminal mind."
Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Ninth Year includes sixteen episodes.
* "Loyalty" (Parts 1 & 2) -- When a boat carrying Somalian royalty is mistaken for a pirate ship and blown to smithereens, consequences reach all the way back to the Major Case Squad in NYC.
* "Broad Channel" -- A cop killing brings unwanted attention to a notoriously clannish Irish neighborhood.
* "Delicate" -- Who on earth would kill a beautiful and talented (though bullying and promiscuous) ballerina?
* "Gods & Insects" -- Untreated Post-Traumatic stress leads to an elevated body count here on the home front.
* "Abel & Willing" -- An over-ambitious sociologist puts the love and loyalty of married couples to the test, with deadly results.
* "Love Sick" -- All's fair in love and war? Think again.
* "Love On Ice" -- A former baseball star is beaten to death with his own bat, and the evidence points to a group of his life-long buddies.
* "Traffic" -- The editor of a prestigious magazine is murdered. Could a recently published expose on the Russian mob be to blame? Tracy Pollan (Family Ties) guest stars.
* "Disciple" -- Moments before his execution, a convicted murderer disavows the killing that put him in the chair. Immediately after his death, another murder with eerily similar characteristics is committed.
* "Lost Children Of The Blood" -- College hi-jinks involving the drinking and draining of human blood are bound to go wrong, right? Dan Butler (Frasier) guest stars.
* "True Legacy" -- Laura Harring (Mulholland Dr.) guests as the matriarch of a political family whose closet is nearly bursting with skeletons.
* "The Mobster Will See You Now" -- Salmon steaks as a murder weapon? A good detective rules nothing out. Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull) guests.
* "Palimpsest" -- The murder of a rare book collector puts Nichols on a collision course with his past.
* "Inhumane Society" -- Professional sports and dog fighting make a deadly mix. Guest stars: Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) and (a virtually unrecognizable) Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid).
* "Three-In-One" -- Nichols gets more than he bargains for by calling on his Psychiatrist father (F. Murray Abraham, Amadeus) for help with a murder case.
After an extremely uneven eighth season, which split Major Crimes Squad cases between the veteran Goren/Eames team and the newly-minted Wheeler/Nichols partnership (which didn't go the distance -- Wheeler went on maternity leave just before the season's end), I wasn't looking forward with much hope.
Though they caught the lion's share of interesting assignments, Detectives Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio, Men In Black) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe, Dream With The Fishes) seemed to be running at half-speed, perhaps sucking on the fumes of job burn-out, while Detective Zach Nichols (Jeff Goldblum, Beyond Suspicion) spent the better part of his eight episodes scrambling like a cat in a bag, trying everyone's patience -- not least his former partner and current Captain Danny Ross (Eric Bogosian, Wonderland) -- as the writers ran all sense of plausibility ragged trying to establish the latest addition to the squad as a Quirky-zany Jazz piano prodigy with complicated family issues and a mysterious past but is nevertheless an omniscient genius and a damned good cop besides. Clearly, this long-running series was running on shin splints.
Year Nine opens with "Loyalty," a two part saga which comes out with all guns blazing (literally, from the deck of a cruise ship in the lawless waters off the Horn of Africa) and fires on all cylinders from beginning to end, where only Nichols still remains on the job. Truly pulse-pounding, jaw-dropping crime drama; if this were all there was to the season, it would be more than enough. But there's more; much more.
Like the phoenix, Law & Order: Criminal Intent rose from its ashes to reach new heights within the sixteen episode confines of its penultimate season. Nichols the gimmicky gumshoe (seemingly moments away from donning a lampshade a year earlier) has been replaced by a sleeker, stripped-down model, giving Goldblum a chance to prove what a subtle, complex and riveting actor he can be, given the chance.
Nichols gets a new pair of co-workers, as solid and effective as a one-two combination: Detective Serena Stevens (Saffron Burrows, The Bank Job), a Chicago P.D. transfer whose childhood as a Marine brat took her all over the world, including Islamabad, where she became fluent in Urdu and Arabic languages -- a useful skill. Detective Stevens' drop-dead good looks also prove useful in "Gods & Insects," where she goes undercover to infiltrate a high-priced escort service. More than just a pretty face, Stevens' keen analytical intellect and maternal instincts (she's a single mother) make her an indispensable member of the squad, and the perfect foil for Nichols.
Nichols and Stevens report to a new captain, Zoe Callas (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Grimm), recently transplanted from Internal affairs. Despite her insistence on sporting a greying Marcia Clark-styled perm, Callas excels at making judgment calls and demonstrates a political dexterity that may be the most important skill of all.
Moving away from flashy, "ripped from today's headlines" stories, Year nine scripts deal increasingly with dark psychology and the sordid loyalties often forged therefrom; always the trump card of the very best Law & Order: Criminal Intent stories.
Shout! Factory has pulled up the slack that led to some careless transfer work in the year eight episodes, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The Ninth Year boasts a set of sharp 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers, with 5.1 surround sound or stereo audio options, each well-suited to the task. There are no extras included, but as any "L & O" fan knows, a set of crackling cases like this one more than suffices.
The Major Case Squad has been rejuvenated and the Big Apple remains as deliciously rotten as ever. What comes next? I can't wait to find out.
Review content copyright © 2012 P.S. Colbert; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 690 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated