Sunday, May 3, 2009

Jeff Goldblum on Law and Order Criminal Intent

Just caught last week's debut of Jeff Goldblum on Law and Order: Criminal Intent on the USA Network. I thought Goldblum's Det. Zach Nichols was outstanding, and could be one of the best characters ever, in all the Law and Orders across history.

Nichols is a high-energy, happy version of Goren. Both are clearly geniuses - in contrast to Chris Noth's Mike Logan, just a very smart detective, whom Nichols replaced. But whereas Bobby Goren - brilliantly played by Vincent D'Onofrio - is morose, wounded, almost sadly pathological in his quirky, brilliant insights, Nichols brings a winning smirk and a joie-de-vivre to his work.

Genius, whether dark or light, works best in the Criminal Intent format. Much as I liked Chris Noth's Mike Logan, and enjoyed following him from Lennie Briscoe (also one in a million, Jerry Orbach is irreplaceable) in the original Law and Order old days to Criminal Intent, the shows with Goren were usually more memorable. It takes a slightly cracked out of the stratosphere mind to best catch the criminals on this show.

Nichols' partner Det. Megan Wheeler is not on this level at all. She wasn't with Logan, either, but since he was no genius, and wasn't supposed to be, they worked pretty well together. Whether Wheeler's sidekick character will work with Nichols remains to be seen - but, to make matters even more interesting, actress Julianne Nicholson will be off the show for an episode or two (the character and the actress are pregnant), so Goren's partner Alexandra Eames (played by Kathryn Erbe) will step in as Nichols' partner.

Eames has been a more powerful character than Wheeler - Eames had to be, given that she's partners with Goren - and it will be fun to see how she works with Nichols.

I liked Goldblum best in The Fly, and of course the Jurassic Parks, and I'm thinking Criminal Intent has the potential to make him even better known, in the long run, as Zach Nichols.

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