Is there a more Pavolian sound known to the American public than the ching-chang of TV’s Law & Order? Like most of our huddled-in-front-of the-TV-glow masses, I have watched every permutation of the show and its respective spin-offs endlessly, aimlessly, and inordinately.
I’ve watched squirrelly Mikey Moriarty, Deer Hunter schlub George Dzunda, cool daddy Jerry Orbach, pin-up boy Benjie Bratt, and Chicago toughy Dennis Farina all go through their paces, artfully tossing ironic one-liners and arching their eyebrows over so many stiffs that they could be laid side-buy-side in two Superdomes.
Still, when all is said and done, I can never remove my eyes from the one-and-only spooky tooth ongoing Televised Performance Art (no joking matter) courtesy of Vincent D’Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. And now, the latest sad, bad, television news—this will be D’Onofrio’s last season in action, as the USA network smarties have acceded the full position to Jeff Goldblum’s (the duo had been alternating episodes) more predictable, sleeve-tugging hijinx.
D’Onofrio, who responsible for two outstandingly memorable high wire acts, as Private Pyle in Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 Full Metal Jacket, and as John Lange (aka the guy stuck in the subway tracks) in Homicide: Life on the Street’s justifiably infamous 1997 episode “The Subway.” Vincent (you just couldn’t call this guy Vinnie) D is full tilt boogie out-of-control as he bends and dips and shakes his big rock-like head throughout each week’s newest crime. He out-tics Christopher Walken, out-lip-licks Marlon Brando, out-barks Al Pacino, out-stage-whispers Jack Nicholson, out-eyebrow-furrows Judd Nelson, out-grimaces Bruce Dern, out –herky-jerks Johnny Depp, out-pantomimes Harold Lloyd, out-eye- pops Klaus Kinski, and he does it all in the downright strangest, scariest, self imploding, self-contained way possible, all the while reducing his melted Barbie Doll partner Kathryn Erbe to the straightest of straight man, making her so unnecessary she could be replaced with a blank screen filled up with her simple, responsive dialogue.
Watching Mr. D, I have managed to develop my own personal exercise program, and because of it I’m getting into Charles Atlas-like shape. When he tilts over sideways I tilt, when he whips his big neck around I whip, when he points his thick elongated figures I point, when he drops another thoroughly inappropriate bit of gesticulation into his L&O dialogue I gesticulate, when his ever clear eyes bead up or pop out I bead and pop right with my man.
If you dig acting, exercise, or glazed ham please tune in one of the innumerable reruns, or quickly jump on the hurly burly bandwagon for D’Onofrio’s last season hurrah. It’s a small screen guarantee that you’ll be absolutely unable to turn out, off, or away from: The One and Only The Shakiest Head in the West.
Vincent D'Onofrio as Private Pyle in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket right before he decides to blow his brains out
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