Law & Order's Bobby Goren: The best character stuck in the worst TV series
The only reason to care about tonight's return of Law & Order: Criminal Intent (9 p.m., USA Network) is the re-emergence of the show's most compelling character, Vincent D'Onofrio's tortured supersleuth, Detective Robert Goren.
Quirky and passionate, with a trademark habit of cocking his head to one side while he picks apart a suspect in interrogations, Goren was the damaged heart of Law & Order: CI — the only distinctive touch elevating this show from the five or six other clones and copies tried by producer Dick Wolf.
Jeff Goldblum gave a game effort and Chris Noth was entertaining enough reprising his old Law & Order character Mike Logan.
But this show was built to showcase D'Onofrio's new-school Sherlock Holmes, a driven, detail-oriented cop whose psychological demons (including a homeless brother and certifiably insane mother) eventually pushed the character off the force.
The role also seemed to chew up D'Onofrio, a notoriously Method actor who gained weight and looked increasingly haggard; he was gone by spring 2010.
Now that the show is starting its final lap, D'Onofrio is back, with Julia Ormond on board as the police psychologist probing Goren's damaged psyche.
This is the one Law & Order where the character stuff is more interesting than the often implausible mysteries.
Ignore Jay Mohr playing a thinly veiled Charlie Sheen tonight and focus on D'Onofrio's Goren — a towering character stuck in a mediocre, unworthy showcase.