Law & Order: Season 3, Episode 11

Extended Family (6 Jan. 1993)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 69 users  
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A Broadway producer's daughter is abducted from a department store. Later, she and her mother are found in a women's shelter. The mother claims that the daughter was abused by her father, but the daughter's accounts are inconsistent.

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Title: Extended Family (06 Jan 1993)

Extended Family (06 Jan 1993) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
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Barry Primus ...
Gary Silver
Michael McGuire ...
Nicholas Teller
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David Preston
Anna Kathryn Holbrook ...
Janet Silver (as Anna Holbrook)
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Dr. Jenner
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Ramona Stark, Ph.D.
Matthew Sussman ...
Alan Fischer
Lucille Rivin ...
Myra Fischer
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Storyline

Briscoe and Logan investigate a possible abduction of a young girl, Samantha Silver, who disappears from a crowded department when she is out shopping with her nanny. Her father is Gary Silver, a well-known Broadway producer. The case takes a major twist however when they locate the child with her mother, who claims she had taken the child because her ex-husband has been sexually molesting her. Her claim is backed up by several child protection advocates and a pediatrician's report that seems to confirm the little girl was molested. ADA Stone knows however that these types of cases are difficult to prosecute as they inevitably have to rely on the child's testimony. Written by garykmcd

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6 January 1993 (USA)  »

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Shall a little child mislead them?
20 December 2010 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Samantha, an eight-year-old girl, disappears while shopping with her deliciously Danish nanny, and Brisco and Logan, after a false start, finally locate her. Samantha is living with her mother (Holbrooke), the divorced wife of the wealthy father (Primus). The mother clearly wants to protect the girl -- and Primus DOES seem like a self-important loudmouth -- and she accuses Primus of having molested Samantha. A pediatrician who has testified for the prosecution in twenty-two previous cases of molestation supports Holbrooke's claims. (Says Adam Schiff of the doc, "He practically defines the word 'zealot'.") The abuse claims are also supported by a committed child psychologist (Van Patten). The in-house psychologist, Olivet, believes the abuse took place but can't say so with any certainty. Primus's now-grown daughter by a previous marriage practically admits to having been toyed with by her father, but Primus just paid for her condo and she's unwilling to discuss it.

The young girl herself, Samantha, has been held in secret by Holbrooke, Van Patten, and the zealous pediatrician and she acts in a way consistent with an abused child but she's been so tainted by the coaching of her captors that, at one point, when asked a more detailed question about the abuse, she cries out, in a touching scene, "I don't know what to say. They didn't tell me what to say." It's a weak case and Stone loses it, but the mother grabs the daughter again and skips town for life in Paris. Let Daddy try to touch Samantha in a bad place NOW.

As usual, the episode deals with a complicated social problem and it doesn't provide easy answers. As here, it sometimes sidesteps any answer at all. We don't know whether Primus had anything to do with his little girl or not. One look at that twenty-something nanny from Copenhagen -- with her blond hair, blue eyes, plump lips, and willingness to sleep naked in the same bed with Primus and Samantha -- and any normal man would wonder why Primus would bother with a glabrous child.

I wish, in this case, that the trial had made clear that Primus, the father, was innocent of wrongdoing. (Instead, the point was that children don't make good witnesses.) The reason I wish Primus had been thoroughly cleared is that the pedophile is such a stock villain. Of course molestation occurs, but it's easy to make an accusation of child abuse. "Prove you didn't molest the child" is rather like asking someone to prove there is no God. Terrible harm has been wrought over the years by false accusations that have led to moral panics. It used to be witches in Salem. Thirty years ago it was Satanism. (Proctor and Gamble's logo carried a Satanic message, if anyone remembers.) Twenty years ago, it was child abuse -- particularly in pre-schools. The lives of innocent people were utterly destroyed and years were spent unnecessarily in the slams.

Dick Wolf, the creator and mastermind of the series, came from advertising, and I suppose that he left the audience convinced that Primus was guilty because, if he hadn't, he might have offended the people in his viewing audience who "practically define the word 'zealot'." In this instance, if the writers had had more in the way of huevos, they'd have shown the mother and her co-conspirators to be fabulists. Instead they opted for the safe way out and left us with a Rorschach.


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