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Law & Order: Criminal Intent: The First Year (2001) – DVD Review

Law and Order: Criminal Intent: The First Year DVD cover art


Created by Dick Wolf
Starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, Jamey Sheridan, Courtney B. Vance


  • All twenty-two first season episodes
  • Criminal Intent: The Beginning featurette

Released by Universal
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Fans should either own or turn on the TV.

The folks at New York City’s Major Case Squad are the ones who will come gunning for your ass if you do something not just bad, but something that’s both big and bad. Following the paradigm of Holmes and Watson, your Dr. Watson in this version is Detective Alexandra James (Erbe), who’s tougher than she looks. She is the perfect partner for Detective Robert Goren (D’Onofrio)–and once he’s on your trail, you might as well chuck it in. Goren is truly Holmes–he knows practically everything and can call up all manner of resources to run you to ground.

So here we are with Law & Order With a Vengeance and the formula is what you’re used to, with some changes. Instead of splitting your time pretty much equally, like on the original, between the detectives and the DA’s office, you get to watch James and Goren chasing after the baddies while you also get the episode’s villains trying to avoid them.

We’ve got a nice taut cast here, and all four actors step up rather nicely. D’Onofrio is the stand out and the reason the show works so well. He’s playing an actor’s dream, though: the guy who knows everybody and everything–so he can just quirk his ass off and the audience will love him. He also has a bit of a past, which more will be revealed about in later episodes. As I’ve stated before, D’Onofrio is such the linchpin that when he goes, I’m not sure what they can come up with to follow him.

Erbe cannot be overlooked in her supporting role, and she’s a pro at delivering all of the exposition you need to get through the episode. Sheridan, Needcoffee fave for playing Randall Flagg to the freaking hilt, works well as the captain and Vance brings some distinct lack of nonsense to his role as ADA.

Vincent D'Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe from Law and Order: Criminal Intent

The only feature on here is the same featurette that was featured on the aforelinked review for the premiere episode DVD. So I won’t repeat too much about it here–except to say that it would have been nice to have a little bit more. A commentary from creator Wolf on the first episode, an episode for the cast to talk about their stuff in a track–these would have been nice.

It’s because of the lack of features that I can’t tell you to go out and buy this right now. Part of the reason for that is: if you have cable, you can pretty much get some version of Law and Order anytime you want. But for the fan, they’ll want to snag, features or no.

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