|"Law & Order: Criminal Intent" star Vincent D'Onofrio didn't mince words.|
"It's odd," he said when asked about the decision to cancel the long-running police procedural. "The fact that we had so many viewers, more than other cable shows, it's odd to see the show end."
It's an assessment the actor shares with fans of the long-running series. "They don't understand. It's all very interesting," D'Onofrio told Today. "You never know what's going to happen in this business."
After 10 seasons and nearly 200 episodes on two networks (NBC and later, USA), "CI" officially comes to a close Sunday night. For D'Onofrio, who played the quirky and complex Det. Robert Goren, the demise of the legal drama is still something of a shock. "There is no obvious reason," he said of the show's end.
Kathryn Erbe, who starred as Goren's partner, Det. Alexandra Eames, echoed the sentiment. "The show was doing so well, we are happy to be here and the fans so obviously overwhelmingly supported us. Who knows?" she told TODAY of the cancellation.
Stars couldn't save 'Criminal Intent'
Prior to D'Onofrio and Erbe's return this season (both of their characters were written off at the start of season nine), the show had been falling in the ratings. Season nine averaged 3.6 million viewers, which was down from about 5 million in season seven, which was the first year the show aired on USA.
Since its debut in 2001, "CI" stood apart from the rest of the "Law & Order" franchise, primarily because of the two main characters who — working the Major Case Squad — pursued and ultimately outwitted psychopaths, serial killers and assorted villains.
Erbe said both she and D'Onofrio brought out the best in each other as their roles as Eames and Goren.
"He and I really work well together, we balance each other well," she said. "We really got enormous pride out of turning an informational scene into something more. We're both emotionally complicated people and we're emotionally invested in what's going on, and it comes across.
"I think we both respected each other, "D'Onofrio said of his on-screen partner. "She's such a great actress."
D'Onofrio also credited his character's "cerebral" quality with connecting with the audience. "The trick was to create a modern day Sherlock Holmes, and every scene to show a duality of his work and emotional state," he said of his role as Goren. "That as the task, to show his dedication to his work and his state of mind. And that's Sherlock Holmes."
As for the future of "CI" both actors are keeping their fingers crossed. "The way we did the last show, we didn't say goodbye," D'Onofrio said. "We say goodbye for now. So you never know."
"Maybe there will be more," Erbe added.
D'Onofrio and Erbe did have a personal message they wanted to give to the fans who have tuned in since 2001.
"Thanks for sticking with me for all those years," D'Onofrio told Today. "I am not your typical actor. The best part of my fans understood what I was doing as an actor and the role that I was playing and that's what made it special."
Erbe wanted the viewers to know that she was thankful "from the bottom of my heart."
"Their support is what made (the show) happen and made it possible," she said. "And we are all incredibly grateful and we hope that we will make some more, but until then just know that we are really, deeply filled with gratitude."