Monday, July 28, 2008

Law & Order Criminal Intent “Ten Count” Fights Boredom, Loses

Law & Order Criminal Intent “Ten Count” should have been called “down for the count” as it opened strong, but seemed to go through the motions as the show progressed.

This case revolved around the murder of Gabriel Gardela, an amateur boxer, who is killed outside a bar after he won a boxing round against the favorite to win. As the brother of this boxer, Peter Gardela (Enver Gjokaj) a boxer himself, is someone that Mike Logan (Chris Noth) used to mentor with PAL on Staten Island, Mike decides to have the case switched to the Major Case squad. While investigating the crime, Logan and Wheeler (Julianne Nicholson) question the boxer’s trainer Gus Kovak (Miguel Ferrer), a competing promoter Mr. Gold (Law & Order “repeat offender” Tony Roberts), the brother’s girlfriend and manager of both brothers’ money Christina (Karolina Wydra) , and the boxer Calvin Lewis (Da’Mond Taylor), the #2 middleweight that Gabriel beat in his last bout. It seems clear to Logan and Wheeler that Gabriel was set up to be murdered, but was the motive money, jealousy, betrayal, or a possible payoff to fix a fight?

Sadly, the investigation plods through all the suspects, with virtually no building suspense. It seemed as if both detectives weren’t into the case, despite the fact that one of the suspects was someone Logan had mentored. Logan did seem to be somewhat conflicted when Captain Ross (Eric Bogosian) cut him out of questioning Peter. But Noth played it a little too low key for me. Even with his altercation with Gus, he seemed a little forced in his rage. I suppose that I am still struggling over how this season of Criminal Intent has backpedaled on Logan. For someone who wanted so badly to be back working in Manhattan, he seems to have lost his spark for the city and for the job. Yes, Logan probably doesn’t want to get in trouble and find himself “exiled” again, but I suppose I miss the Mikey that had that touch of sarcastic humor, the kind that used to bring a smile to his own face when he delivered his remarks. Maybe working in the Major Case squad is guilty of causing its detectives to become too angst ridden? I hope not, because I don’t really want Jeff Goldblum to start on the show with too much depressing baggage.

Many of the suspects they have become dead ends, when it looks like they can’t blame it on Christina as money doesn’t appear to be a motive, or Peter, who, they suspected may have believed his brother and Christina were in a relationship behind his back. But when Peter who finally breaks down and admits his brother didn’t like women, the whole love triangle theory goes away. Peter gets rattled when the word “gay” is mentioned, because one just can’t be a gay boxer. Since his brother was dead, I don’t see why he would have held that back, since his brother was dead, unless he thought it would reflect badly on himself.

It seems clear, though, that Gus is driving Peter to a “killer instinct” to purge Peter of impulse control that Logan put into Peter’s head when Logan mentored him. Gus indicated that Peter was unable to “close” a fight because he was too soft to do so. Sadly, at the end of the show, Gus is beaten to death at the hands of Peter, who realizes, as did the detectives, that Gus hired the people to set up and murder Gabriel. Unfortunately, this little piece of drama came a little to late for me.

There were also a few distractions in the show. One was Tony Roberts, who besides looking old, didn’t look very well. He just looked a little too thin in his face. It could be just age, but still I couldn’t stop wondering if he was ill. The other issue was that really odd ruffled blouse that Wheeler was wearing during the last half of the show. It just seemed, well, un-detective like. Yes, I know I shouldn’t be the fashion police, but I think the wardrobe person who picked that for her should be charged with a fashion crime.

As Logan and Wheeler were driving to the gym to catch up with Gus, we see Logan recapping the case in his mind. To me, this could mean the writers/director thought the case was either was too complicated and this would bring everybody up to speed, or it was an attempt to show Logan’s mind at work. It seemed to me like an attempt to add some drama to an otherwise slow paced episode, and it didn’t do much for me.

Miguel Ferrer, however, seemed very well cast as the boxing trainer/manager who seemed to have some anger issues all his own. It wasn’t enough, though, to save the episode for me.

I am not sure if it is Chris Noth’s apparent lack of interest with the show (evidenced by his leaving), or if the character of Mike Logan is being conceived and written badly, but in this episode he and Wheeler had zero chemistry. And for two partners who have to work closely together, there needs to be some spark that keeps them interesting. They both seemed to be phoning it in.

Hopefully they will finish off Mike Logan’s tenure with some more exciting cases and episodes for him. Right now, I’m not going to buy into speculation that he’s going to be killed in his final episode, because I think it’s the easy way out for the show. It would be much harder and more interesting, for example, for them to work in something for Mike where he finds himself banished again to Staten Island or elsewhere, or transferred or promoted to another job due to injury on the job. But death for Mikey would be an insult to all Law & Order fans, especially after they’ve essentially already killed off the personality of Mike Logan that made him such a compelling character.

On a side note, I am not sure what’s going on with the USA Network, but there don’t seem to be any embeddable videos available for “Ten Count” anywhere at this point in time. If they show up, I’ll put them here. It seems even USA wants to forget this episode as well. (Links to USA’s site, where you can view some clips, are here and here.

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Also, see my companion Law & Order site,These Are Their Stories.


Music Wench said...

I rather liked this episode. I do think Noth is playing Logan differently and thus seems to be less engaged? Ah well, I know a lot of people don't like the more subdued Logan. I rather like the maturity the character has developed the last couple of years.

I am going to join you on that more positive note for Logan. I think they may be leading the way for Logan to step down because of a series of events perhaps starting with this one.

samfan said...

Thanks for the update. I hope Logan does not get killed.

Anonymous said...

Karolina Wydra is awful pretty. But apart from her I didn't really think much of the episode.