Friday, July 15, 2011

No Reprieve for Law & Order: CI

TV Line, 7.15.11
by Matt Webb Mitovich

'It Was a Good Series Finale,' Says USA Network Boss

Though franchise founder Dick Wolf had been angling for Law & Order: Criminal Intent to earn a reprieve by delivering a solid 10th and final season, a resurrection simply won’t be happening, USA Network’s top brass tell TVLine.

Asked if there was any chance for a semi-miraculous save and Season 11 order, given the warm welcome that returning regulars Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe received, USA co-president Jeff Wachtel answered, “No — and this is said with respect for the show, respect for Dick [Wolf], and most significantly with respect to the audience.”

At the time that Season 10 was greenlit, with D’Onofrio’s Goren and Erbe’s Eames back on duty, Wachtel says, “We had a conversation internally, and [NBC Universal chair] Bonnie [Hammer] was phenomenally supportive of [the idea that] you’ve got to honor your contract with the audience. We as a cable network don’t want to pull the plug and leave people being upset — ‘Wait, what happened to my show?’ — so we very carefully and wonderfully staged a final season.”

Despite premiering strongly (with 5.6 million total viewers) and averaging some 1.6 mil in the coveted 18-49 demo throughout the season, Criminal Intent was not profitable for USA — a liability that was foreseen well ahead of time. “Given the ratings we could anticipate, and given the expense of the show, we knew it was a money-losing venture for us,” Wachtel notes.

Though some viewers feel the episode that closed the decade-old procedural didn’t scream “series finale,” Wachtel contends that all signs were there if you looked for them. “The fact that we introduced a psychiatrist (played by Julia Ormond) into the mix, and that a significant part of the season was about the healing of Bobby Goren and taking him out of an awful journey and into a place of relative emotional health…. For a Dick Wolf show that was much more character-based than you ever see.”

As the final hour wrapped, Goren emerged from his final mandatory shrink session and headed off to a new crime scene with Eames. “We felt that was a great place to leave things,” says Wachtel. “It was a good series finale.”

The silver lining to Criminal Intent‘s definitively final run? As part of its legacy, it leaves its lead-out, In Plain Sight, a healthier series. “That was a great opportunity, to pair [them] on Sunday nights, where both had a lot of strength,” explains USA co-president Chris McCumber. “This past Sunday, when [In Plain Sight] didn’t have the Criminal Intent lead-in, it actually grew [in three target demo measures]. The tandem ended up making In Plain Sight an even stronger show.”

Thanks Linda!





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6 comments:

Diane said...

No surprises there then - I lost count of how many times USA used the word 'Final' before and during the 'Final Season'.

Vincent and Kate have already moved on, we'll move on with 'em.

val said...

Mwah!!! No more Bobby for sure.

What, USA, not even a special or two?

Regina Caschetto said...

I hate the USA network. The only reason to watch it now is for repeats of CI and those are few and far between. They should rename the network the NCIS/SVU network.
Regina

trigger said...

I quit watching USA in September 2009 and I have stuck to it, except for the first-run showing of new CI episodes. I now have every CI episode on DVD or iTunes, so I have no need of USA for anything. They are off my watch list entirely. Once upon a time, USA was my go-to channel because I liked most of the programming. Now, you can't pay me to watch it. They lost a loyal viewer, and I know there are others who feel the same way.

USA keeps saying their viewers are their biggest concern, yet they prove over and over through their decisions and their actions that they have nothing but contempt for loyal CI fans. Network representatives have been extremely rude to fans who did nothing but express their support for Vincent and Kate and ask the network to reconsider letting them go back in 09. I lost any respect I had for the network back then.

Good bye, USA Network. I'm done with you.

Carol said...

I've been seeing commercials on Chicago's WGN about Saturday LOCI marathons coming this fall! Some executives (Listening USA?) know we're out here.

judith said...

It's a sad time in my 'Bobette' land. sigh..

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