Law & Order: Criminal Intent This repeat of September's season premiere heralded Chris Noth'

s return to the L&O

universe as Det. Mike Logan. His reward: a wobbly desk. As Big Mike got adjusted to his new digs, Goren and Eames sought to bust loopy South African serial killer Nicole Wallace (Olivia D'Abo), who may have poisoned a doctor's brother. I disliked watching Goren one-up Dr. Rodgers (Leslie Hendrix) again during the autopsy because the redheaded M.E. is the unsung heroine of all the L&O franchises. Apart from being a terrific actress who adds cool intelligence to every scene she's in, Hendrix is a far more believable coroner than Jill Hennessy (no offense, Jill, but most stiff-pokers spend their time with corpses other than Woody). One thinks Rodgers would have uncovered the potassium overdose in the victim without Goren's meddling, but then, this is a Vincent D'Onofrio star vehicle. I wish D'Onofrio would just stick to his forte face-offs. His battles of wits and will with the overlooked D'Abo crackled with suspense, and yes, sexual tension. Hell, in another reality, Nicole and "Bobby" would have made a great couple. Nobody plays mental chess like that unless they're turned on. And why shouldn't Goren be aroused? Logan described Nicole as "beauty, brains and a complete psychopath my dream girl." That's why Logan is the best L&O cop, aside from the late, lamented Lennie Briscoe. And Nicole is the best nemesis of any L&O franchise since Larry Miller's killer comedy-nightclub owner jousted with McCoy. Plus D'Abo is a lot hotter and has the cool distinction of a hip singer/songwriter dad who used to front Manfred Mann during their "Quinn the Eskimo" days. Trivia aside, D'Abo was utterly compelling, capturing Nicole's tormented and contradictory impulses with verve and sympathy. Here was a woman who yearned for kids (after killing her own), yet realized she couldn't change her evil ways. She couldn't bear to risk the life of sweet Gwen Chapel, yet was far too canny to let herself be locked up for the rest of eternity. Even the demented are capable of good deeds, and I loved watching Olivia screw Gwen's slimeball dad to the wall. A follower of the "Hypocritical" oath, Dr. Evan Chapel planned to kill his daughter to garner her trust fund. "I can always have more children," says the glazed-eyed Dr. Practical. "Where do you get $5 million?" That's what I call "planned parenthood."