7.7/10
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156 user 32 critic

Law & Order 

Follows a crime, usually adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points, the police investigation and the prosecution in court.

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2010   2009   2008   2007   2006   2005   … See all »
Nominated for 6 Golden Globes. Another 44 wins & 196 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

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Storyline

The show follows a crime, ususally adapted from current headlines, from two separate vantage points. The first half of the show concentrates on the investigation of the crime by the police, the second half follows the prosecution of the crime in court. Written by Mike Menditto

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories. See more »


Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

13 September 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Law & Order Prime  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(456 Episodes)

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Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Law & Order episodes are often advertised as being "ripped from the headlines." Many people mistake this to mean that they are based on real events. In reality, the slogan is referring to the show's practice of coming up with stories that are partially inspired by recent headlines. However, with almost no exceptions, only a fairly small portion of the episode will resemble the real incident or incidents that it is inspired by. There might be a few scenes that resemble a well-known headline while the majority of the episode goes in a different direction, or there could be one character that is based on a famous individual, but the circumstances the person encounters are largely made up. See more »

Goofs

Throughout the series, the detectives (or the Crime Scene Unit Forensic Technicians) are able to ID a bullet caliber from the wound size. In reality this is impossible. A 9mm, .38, .40 and even a .45 all make wounds that are indistinguishable from each other on a body. The police also often look at a bullet and ID the pistol from it. While possible, this requires forensic analysis and is generally not very conclusive because the bullet is too deformed. The conformation of a particular bullet coming from a particular gun using "ballistic fingerprinting" has never resulted in a conviction. See more »

Quotes

Abbie Carmichael: Gentleman, if we can just lower the amount of testosterone...
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Crazy Credits

When the 15th season episode "Gunplay", originally aired in October 2004, was rebroadcast in March 2005, it ran with the opening credits showing Annie Parisse, even though the episode features Elizabeth Rohm who was originally credited. As a result, Rohm is uncredited in the rebroadcast of this episode. See more »


Soundtracks

I'm Not Driving Anymore
(Instrumental)
Written and Performed by Rob Dougan
(UK Version)
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the few good television shows still standing...
22 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

Television in Western society has become something of a cultural and imaginative wasteland, with the lowest common denominator now firmly in charge. As attempts to create something imaginative or different get cancelled faster than Mike Tyson can embarrass the sport of boxing, the drivel that we call Reality TV just keeps on keeping on. Which makes those of us with an active brain in our heads all the more grateful that a simple two-act series about criminal prosecution can last for fourteen-plus years.

The premise is as refreshing as it is simple. Before Law & Order, the majority of television shows about lawyers showed defense lawyers doing the police's job and solving cases for them. Competent police or prosecution lawyers did not exist in this highly fictitious setting, so Law & Order turned that on its head. Law & Order begins with a witness running into a victim, or a victim coming forth after some kind of unspeakable act. First, the police, almost always represented by two particular detectives, gather evidence and make inquiries. Then the district attorneys attempt to prosecute the case. Very simple at first, but it is the complex relationships between the regular cast, as well as the quirks of the guest stars, that make the show what it is.

Like any long-running television series, Law & Order has had its ups and downs. I doubt that anyone is going to look upon the era in which Jill Hennessy was replaced by Carey Lowell, indisputably the worst Bond girl of all time, with any great kindness. Indeed, the true golden era of the show was with Jerry Orbach, Benjamin Bratt, Jill Hennessy, and Sam Waterston. Now that three of this foursome have left the show, and no less than three attempts to fill the very big void left by Hennessy have failed, it looks like Law & Order has long passed its apex. Not that this is necessarily bad. All good things must come to an end, even if many would prefer a bad Law & Order to a good Survivor.

Aside from the cast dynamic, the stories are what makes the show truly work. Although they are quite relevant to the modern era, they show no signs of dating, with a story from the first season often seeming as current as a story from the most recent, changes in prices, fashions, or cultures notwithstanding. Although many of the stories are uniquely American in nature, a fair percentage are of the kind that could literally happen anywhere.

Another aspect that sets Law & Order apart is its ability to show that even the simplest of cases do not always have a happy ending. Blatant murderers go free because someone at the lab screws up a test, people we sympathise with in spite of their guilt are sent to prison and meet grisly fates, or some of the inequities of the system are displayed in such bold colour its a wonder the show hasn't been clamped down upon by the current President. This is a good thing, however, as a less sugar-coated version of the system makes for much more compelling viewing. In the end, one gets to see that while the system is not perfect, it works hard to protect everyone, which is just the way it should be. It is not a coincidence that many of the District Attorney characters who quit often wind up coming back in guest appearances... as defense lawyers. Even the excruciating Carey Lowell made a half-decent fist of such a return.

Were I giving Law & Order a score, it would be a solid ten out of ten. In spite of some woeful casting decisions, it has never had a truly dull moment. Maybe soon it might even find a second wind, relatively speaking.


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