I recently, or not so recently – about a year ago – read an article in I believe Vanity Fair about Vincent D’Onofrio and how women everywhere were falling for him. Developing minor crushes on the man who features as Bobby Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent and who, if you remember this far back, was the giant and mad farmer in Men in Black number one.
But what is it about D’Onofrio that has women everywhere creating fan listings on the Internet, whole Bobby Goren sites (yes, really) that are “updated every couple of days” and more. Why is it that a whole league of women have not only a simple crush on the man, but are actually out there doing something about it, and feel so moved to do so.
Perhaps it is the energy Goren himself puts out – a strong and nervous almost vibrating energy that is at once powerful as it is neurotic and human. Goren is by no means perfect.. WE know that someone (likely his mother, I recall from one episode, is schizophrenic), that he may well have a few loose ends of his own, but no matter what, he always seems to get the job done and in the strangest possible way. He outwits criminals with his brains, not always his brawn, though god knows he has that too and isn’t afraid to use it when necessary, but it’s that sideways lean he does when talking to a suspect, the way he moves like a bit of a strange bird and seems to dance around the suspect, playing with them, toying with them – a cat with a mouse before the big kill. Bobby Goren is just the kind of guy you want protecting you and perhaps that is just it.
I’ve been struggling because I like Sam Waterston as well – another great actor and while he may lack the obvious sex appeal of Goren, he has it nonetheless (provided you like older men) because he is Goren’s opposite in many ways: gentle, paternal, peaceful but still out to prosecute the bad guy and keep him or her off the street and in lock up. Come to think of it, the two men have a remarkable lot in common.
But back to Goren: one site boasts a brief 126 fan listings but who knows how many hits that one gets and that is a small one. Then there is the Goren and Eames Fan listing and the list goes on. You can, of course, buy the episodes on Amazon.com and elsewhere and even I have to confess to renting the CI series from Netflix because it’s just a damn good program as far as I am concerned.
What appeals about Goren is both the “teddy bear” factor – the one that makes women, or some women, want to take him home and cuddle up with him, and the fact that he’s a real man but just vulnerable enough. He could and can and would and will protect you, but he would also allow himself to be vulnerable. In this way, Bobby Goren then is every woman’s dream guy; strong, but not afraid to be sensitive at the same time (though sensitive is such a dodgy word that one hates to use it because it means different things to different people, I use it in the most general way here.) As one site put it so well, “Goren’s intuition seems to be the case-breaker” which is true of almost every other episode. Eames is there and she is good (though I liked her more in “Stir of Echoes”,) but her role here really, just like every other character in CI, is to support Goren. He’s the reason we tune in every Sunday and the reason that when Chris Noth stars, we all sigh because as good as Noth may be (and we’ve really yet to see so I won’t pass judgment yet), he’s no Goren. He lacks the intensity, the almost rage that Goren has. It is as if Goren has seen so many awful things that he has built up such an intensity that this shines through, which is amazing when you consider he’s not a real detective – remember that: he’s just an actor doing his job, and no, I don’t mean to belittle actors, only to say that we so easily forget, which is a real talent, that he is not a real detective in Major Case, but an actor playing a role, and that that is the real talent that belongs to D’Onfrio.
I remember being surprised at first that all over America housewives, women of all stripes everywhere were had a “secret crush” on Bobby Goren and then it all started to make sense to me: the savior complex, the hero of a man that he is, the sensitivity, the toughness, all I wondered about at that point was who would I choose? Waterston for his paternal and wise manner and good looks and cool calm in any courtroom or would I too choose Bobby Goren? Not that it’s really a factor, because A. I’m married and B. There is nil chance of me meeting D’Onfrio or Waterston and an even lesser chance that either would pay attention in return as no doubt, they are both used to women fawning all over them – something I would never do.
What I can do, however, is respect both as actors and the roles they play and pray that there are truly detectives and prosecutors who are really like this within our own justice system and that this isn’t just TV. Wouldn’t that be something.
Thanks for reading,
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