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|Index||152 reviews in total|
Here's how you can tell, (sort of), which season a rerun of this show
was originally part of. Most of us watch the reruns even more than the
regular show and even discovered the regular show through the re-runs
so I thought this might be helpful for the newbies.
1988: The pilot has a grainy look to it. The offices of the lawyers are more proletarian that the wood-paneled hives they now work in. The big thing is that the DA, (as opposed to the Executive Assistant DA- let's call him the EADA, or the assistant DA- let's call her the ADA), is played for the one and only time by Roy Thinnes, who must have finally escaped from 'The Invaders'. It's about the Masucci Crime Family, (who will be back), corrupting public officials and ends will a lengthy scroll about the ongoing fight against corruption, etc.
1990-91: Short, heavy-set, balding George Dzundza is the cynical older cop. Dzundza left because he preferred to live and work where it was warmer and his character, (played by his stand-in), gets bumped off in the first episode of the second season.
1991-92: Paul Sorvino plays his replacement, nice-guy Phil Cerretta. The show actually began the next year with the same cast but Sorvino wanted to leave to become an opera singer so poor Phil got shot by a black-market arms dealer in November, 1992 and was replaced by the classic dog-faced flatfoot, Jerry Orbach as Lenny Briscoe.
1993-94: It had been an all-male cast so they brought in Jill Hennessy to replace Richard Brooks as the ADA. But Brooks was black so they had to bring in another black character, (my interpretation) so out went the excellent Dann Florek as Lt. Cragan, to be replaced by S. Epatha Merkerson, (I can always remember her name but not the characters).
1994-5: Michael Moriarity had come apart due to, (from what I've read), alcohol and chronic mental problems that resurfaced. He was replaced this season by Sam Waterson, who came over from 'I'll Fly Away' as the EADA. Meanwhile perennial malcontent, (again from what I've read), Chris Noth either wanted out or was wanted out and his character, Mike Logan, slugs another corrupt public official on the steps of the courthouse, (after the smug perp gets off), and is banished to Staten Island, later to return in a TV movie.
1995-96: The year of the first true 'Homicide' cross-over, (Noth as Logan had done a cameo the previous year), and the rare L&O episode that was about the regulars, who witnesses an execution and then spend the day and night drinking it off. It all ends with Hennessy's character, Clare Kincaid, dying in an auto accident. RIP.
1996-98 Carey Lowell replaced Hennessy. Dick Wolf had apparently decided to get ready for the next abrupt departure by creating a sub-plot for each character to explain why they might leave: Adam Schiff was facing a tough election, (and his wife was dying), McCoy was up on ethics charges, (finally). Jaime Ross's sleazy ex-husband was trying to win custody of their child by claiming she was working too hard. Van Buren was suing the city for discrimination in promotions. Lenny Briscoe's daughter gets rubbed out by a dope ring. Rey Curtis' wife has MS. So what happened? Nothing. Everyone stayed.
1998-99: Lowell DID leave, for a similar reason as her character's- she had a baby with Richard Gere and wanted to spend time with her child. Angie Harmon, a real firecracker, came in to replace her.
1999-00: Bratt left to spend more time with HIS movie star other half, Julia Roberts, (it didn't last). Jesse Martin replaced him.
2000-01: Hill finally left to be replaced with Diane Wiest.
2001-02: Harmon left to be with her new hubby, football star Jason Sehorn, to be replaced by the much maligned, (and under-rated), Elizabeth Rohm. 9/11 made it an interesting season to come in.
2002-04: Senator Fred Thompson replaces Wiest.
2004-05: By bye Lennie Briscoe. Hello Dennis Farnia. Does it even matter that his character's named Fontana?
Sooo Thinnes= '88 pilot. Dzundza = 1st season (90-91). Sorvino = 2nd season or early third, (91-92). Orbach reporting to Florek = 3rd season, (92-93). Moriarity working with Hennessy = 4th season, (93-94). Waterson and we still have Noth= 5th season, (94-95). Bratt and we still have Hennessy = 6th season, (95-96). Carey Lowell is either the 7th season, (96-97) or 8th season, (97-98). Harmon and we still have Bratt = 9th season (98-99). Martin and we still have Hill = 10th season, (99-00). Wiest working with Harmon = 11th season, (00-01). Wiest working with Rohm = 12th season, (01-02). Thompson and we still have Orbach = 13th, (02-03) or 14th, (03-04) season. Farina, so far = 15th season, (04-05).
My dream cast? I'll take the crusty but forceful Thompson over the merely crusty Hill as the DA. I like Moriarity's Stone somewhat more than Waterson's McCoy. They are two of the finest actors of their generation but I prefer Stone's idealism to McCoy's 'winning is everything' attitude. Actually, I wish the series had both of them and had them alternated, with their different approaches. Hennessy's intelligent sensitivity and expressive face made her the best ADA. Florek is the classic middle manager who gets it from both sides. Orbach fits like an old glove. Noth's emotionalism made him more exciting that the other young cops. There was never a season when they were all together but the fourth season, 1993-94 was about the best.
On Sunday, May 2, 2004, the local newspaper, The Free Lance-Star, reported the discovery of a body in a dumpster outside a motel. The following day , the paper reported the arrest of the murderer, thanks in part to the quick action of one of the motel residents. While the police were securing the crime scene, one of the by-standers was approached by a man who asked her what was going on. When she told him about the body, he ran across the street and jumped onto a waiting van. She later told a newspaper reporter that she had "watched enough "Law and Order" episodes to know suspicious behavior when she sees it." She got out her camera-phone and starting taking photographs of the man and the license plate on the van. The police downloaded the photos, tracked down the van, connected all the dots, and had the killer in custody 39 hours after the discovery of the body. "Law and Order" RULES !!
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
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.
To be honest, I didn't become a real fan of the series until Jerry Orbach (Detective Briscoe)and Sam Waterston(EADA McCoy)came into the picture. This is when the series starts to pick up steam. Watching the show, you can't help but laugh at Briscoe's remarks or feel the passion of McCoy. Both of these men want justice, and will do everything within limits to bring the wrongdoers to justice. What I really like about the show is the wonderful twists and turns that they throw to the audience, as well as the "ripped from the headlines" episodes. Even though you have 2 more in the "Law And Order" franchise, the original is STILL the best!
This intense drama, now in its 15th season and still going strong, set the stage for ensemble drama, in which the cast plays a secondary role to the story. Law & Order, as originally conceived, drew the viewer into the process by which American law enforcement and litigation works, or doesn't, depending on the viewer's opinion. The first half-hour is devoted to the investigation of a crime, the second to its prosecution. Cases are made or lost by evidence, lack thereof, a technicality, or even judicial whim. Dick Wolf made it clear from day one that the cast was expendable; no prima donnas here. The first cast was all male, with one African-American. Wolf apparently caved to fan pressure for a more politically-correct spectrum, but it really didn't matter so long as the actors could carry the story forward. His best casting choice was Jerry Orbach, his worst Elisabeth Rohm, but with or without these people, the drama continues. In recent years, L&O has lost some of the grittiness that made it so compelling, and I do miss actors such as Steven Hill, Michael Moriarty, Chris Noth, Jill Hennessy and now Orbach, but the show is still far superior to the majority of what passes for prime-time programming. It only suffers in the rare episodes when a politically-correct message is pushed into the story, i.e., whenever it deviates from its original format of presenting how the criminal justice system works. Ignore the spinoffs; the original Law & Order is still the best.
I only started watching L&O a few years ago, and am hooked on the brilliant writing, acting, and direction that have made this show so popular for so long. Jerry Orbach is great as Lennie, and I was stunned to learn that he also played the voice of Lumiere, the French candlestick in Beauty and the Beast! His sarcastic one-liners never fail to get me laughing, and he and his new partner, Jesse L. Martin as Ed Green, have a good rapport and are believable as partners. On the "Order" side, Sam Waterston, Dianne Wiest, and Elisabeth Rohm are equally compelling. New cast member Rohm has gotten better as she's gone along; she had big shoes to fill as Angie Harmon's replacement. Because the stories are all driven by the plots, and not the characters' personal lives, it makes the constant cast turnover more believable. It's a testament to Dick Wolf and co. that such a smart, sharp show has stayed on the edge after almost 12 years! My only beef is I'm tired of hearing "Ripped from the headlines" in every promo. That, though, is a minor quibble. Wednesday nights wouldn't be the same without it!
There are many shows that are known for some sort of drama. For example, for the genre SCI-FI is Stargate: SGI or even STAR TREK. For the Drama area would be Law & Order. Lined up through drama from the 27th precinct to the court-room and the DA'S office, it is everywhere. The show is designed in a specific design. The first half of the show focuses on the police of, now in its eighteenth season, has Detective Ed Green and Detective Curtis Lupo under Lieutenant Van Buren. The second half deals with the DA'S office which, now in its eighteenth season, has ADA Cutter with ADA Rubirosa under DA McCoy, who originally since season five was the ADA. All the drama for anything comes from this show. This is the show to look up to, with all the success and popularity it has had everywhere. It is the most known Crime-Drama show ever and currently the most long-running show on television.
I have to hand it to you Americans - when it comes to decent TV shows, you
have us Brits beaten, hands down; Sopranos, Six Feet Under and this, Law &
It's an excellent show which makes for firmly compulsive viewing, with great scripts and solid acting. The icing on the cake for me is the stunningly beautiful Angie Harmon as an Assistant D.A.
It's a top show - if you haven't seen it already, then make sure you see it next time it's on - well worth a look.
Law And Order is a testament to the intelligence of the American
viewing public that if police drama and courtroom drama is presented
intelligently doesn't need crazy car chases nor choreographed police
shootouts to become a hit. It has stayed at the top of the viewing
public's taste because of the intelligent way it presents the criminal
justice system and the issues of the day.
The typical Law And Order episode will have a murders the cops will investigate and arrest their suspect and then the District Attorney will take over. The ADA be it Michael Moriarty, Sam Waterston, or Linus Roache will have some obstacle tossed his way by smart defense lawyering or a judge that will hinder the prosecution. They will have to overcome it and most of the time they do. But not always, defense lawyers do win, it's why they command the fees they do and folks this is not Perry Mason.
The show's concept has struck a resonating tone with the public, it has to be the concept because no other show in the history of television drama has undergone as many cast changes as Law And Order. Even the boss has changed with New York County having four District Attorneys in the time of the show with Steven Hill, Dianne Weist, Fred DaltonThompson and now Sam Waterston moved up through the ranks. Hill was clearly based on the District Attorney in Manhattan for almost 40 years Robert Morgenthau.
The police are also an interesting lot. I think the show really lost something when Jerry Orbach left and died. Lennie Briscoe had the map of New York written across his face and I used to live for Orbach delivering Briscoe's cynical, but uncanny observations about life and love. There were good actors before and after Orbach, but none ever really got the essence of New York in their character.
Three regulars have died on the show, ADAs Jill Eikenberry and Annie Parisse, and Detective George Dzundza. Two of the ADAs Richard Brooks and Carey Lowell have become defense attorneys and have come back to the show on a few occasions. One I've been waiting to come back as a defense attorney was Elizabeth Rohm. When Fred Dalton Thompson fired Rohm and said she was more suitable as a defense attorney and after she confessed that she was a lesbian, I've been waiting for her return.
One of the other things I liked about the show was the steady semi-regular cast of defense attorneys who would appear now and then. Of the group I liked the late George Grizzard, Tovah Feldshuh, and Bob Dishy. And it was a special episode indeed when the late William Kunstler did a cameo role to defend a Sixties radical who was now in custody.
This show spun two successful other Law And Order franchises, Special Victims and Criminal Intent. Those shows have their points, but I think Law And Order sticks far more to reality than the others. Both the two spin-offs are likely to come up with some really wacky scenarios that go far beyond the scope of the shows.
This show could run forever as it apparently isn't dependent on any one player to succeed. And it has a never ending supply of plots taken from real life. What could be better?
You don't have to look far to find quality TV. Law and Order has been
doing it for almost 20 years. Forget about CSI and Cold Case and other
imitators out there nothing tops Law and Order. Even though recently
new characters that have been coming into play (almost the entire cast
has changed in just the last 3 seasons leaving Lt. Van Buren and new DA
Jack McCoy as the only long standing characters with Detective Ed
Green's sudden departure last season)the show is still going strong and
is still interesting. Even the reruns are great to watch. There are
some episodes that you can really just get into.
If you haven't seen it then check it out. It is still one of the best shows out there 10 of 10
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