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Goodbye Ben Stone
bkoganbing4 July 2012
If Michael Moriarty hadn't gotten into that tiff with Janet Reno over TV violence who knows how many episodes more of Law And Order he might have done. Many a good Sam Waterston episode would have been his and who knows what direction Waterston's career might have taken? In any event the show got just as passionate a prosecutor.

The Chief Financial Officer of a baby food company is killed and the investigation by Jerry Orbach and Chris Noth lead to a Russian mob takeover. Allison Janney the head of the company was either clueless or just didn't want to know where that fresh infusion of money that her new partner brought. The partner is Victor Slezak, a Russian with an anglicized name.

The shooter is nabbed and he's caught dead bang with weapon. But connecting him to Slezak is not possible without Janney's testimony. She's frightened, but Moriarty wants to win this one bad. He wins but at a terrible price.

Note the appearance of Bob Dishy in the first several times as defense attorney Lawrence Weaver. Dishy was my favorite as an occasional lawyer for the accused, he even won a couple on the show.

This was Moriarty's last show and whatever you think of the rightness of his quarrel with Janet Reno you have to say he is a man of principle. This was a good farewell for Moriarty.
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Baby Food and Murder.
Robert J. Maxwell23 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The financial officer of a baby food company is shot on the street and pushed under a truck. Logan and Brisco find that the most obvious suspect is a red herring. They finally track down the killer, a hit man for the Russian mob. Conviction of the man ordering the hit depends on the testimony of guest star Allison Jennings but she fears for her life if she testifies. It turns out she has good reason to be afraid, Moriarty's reassurances notwithstanding. It all leads to Moriarty's resignation.

This episode is up to par for the early years of the series. Here, a homeless man really looks homeless, not like an actor wearing clothes from a box labeled "ragged clothing" in the wardrobe department.

One of the more notable features of the series was its willingness to take us into unfamiliar milieus. Here, it's the financial structure of a natural baby food company. Elsewhere it was the diamond trade or the manufacture of pace makers. The writers had to do a bit of homework. They not only had to learn enough details to keep the plot realistic. They had to learn enough about the business to make the details comprehensible to the public who were viewing it.

Allison Jannings has big asymmetrical, liquid eyes; strangely drooping lips; and is curiously attractive. She does a fine job, but then so does everyone else.

Moriarty having dropped out (or been dropped), the next season saw Sam Waterston as the ADA.
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A Mostly Solid Episode
runsfast20024 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Ben Stone was, for me, hands down the best ADA of this series. Michael Moriarty could act with his fingernails. That being said, there are some character inconsistencies in this episode that must reflect Moriarty's departure from the show. As another reviewer pointed out, it would have made more sense if he left at the end of Sanctuary, when he's forced to compromise and not retry a guilty man after the trial ended with a hung jury.

True, Stone would have felt tremendous guilt at someone being shot as a result of testimony he forced them to give, but would the Ben Stone of seasons 1 through 3 have gone after a witness who committed perjury because they were in fear for their life? In Wedded Bliss, he runs up against a similar situation where a woman won't testify against her husband because she's afraid of him. Stone doesn't pursue any perjury charges - even though he could (the difference could be in that instance that he had multiple defendants and had the option of trying to turn one of them, but still).

As for the last scene between Ben and Adam, the respect and regard the men had for each other is evident. In a 1996 online interview with the NY Daily News, Hill states they had a close relationship and that the scene was difficult to do because of their emotions. Ben putting his hand on the back of Adam's head and squeezing his arm is probably as close as those two characters would ever get to a hug. Overall, this is another fine episode, I just wish Stone had hung around for a few more years (like about 16).
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Arrividerci, Ben Stone
george-84130 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Moriarty's final episode---so the story goes he was dropped from the series due to a dispute with Janet Reno about violence on TV. (No idea how accurate this is.) In the series he supposedly resigns out of guilt as ADA because a woman he pressured to testify against a Russian mob hit man is assassinated as she's moving into witness protection.

Interestingly, four episodes before in the episode Sanctuary he hints to Adam Schiff that he might have to quit because that he may not be able to tolerate the compromises he's forced to make, after Schiff orders him NOT to retry a black youngster whose murder trial of a white man he thought was Jewish ends in a hung jury. THAT incident was a more plausible motivator for Ben Stone to resign since Schiff was forcing him to compromise his principles. The assassination of the witness in this episode comes across as entirely contrived just to rationalize the departure of Moriarty. The mob "hit" occurs as an afterthought (isn't shown, just discussed between the district attorneys) and it seems ludicrous that a hit man could gun down a witness right in the process of being moved out of her home by federal officials. It also seems ludicrous that Stone would react so emotionally; it's been made clear he is a resolute standard-bearer of the law and strict justice and it's doubtful he'd consider he had a choice whether to threaten this woman with a crime if she refused to testify as to what she had seen. He was, after all, "just doing his job" following the dictates of the law. He'd be much more inclined to blame "the feds" for incompetently protecting the woman as she was being moved into witness protection.

You almost wonder if they appended this extra minute of storyline as an afterthought once it was determined that Moriarty wasn't going to come back for the following season.

The closing scene between Schiff and Stone is telling: not sure if the actors might have disliked each other but the characters clearly do as Schiff can't even bring himself to wish the other "well" in his future endeavors and rather than shaking hands, Stone strangely pats the old man on the head, an act seemingly less of affection than of subtle disrespect. Or, maybe I'm reading too much into TV fiction!
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Goodbye to Ben Stone
calvinnme27 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The final episode of season four, "Old Friends", is Michael Moriarty's last episode as Ben Stone. In it, a truck hits a pedestrian and the investigation reveals the victim's link to a baby-food company in which a new partner has connections to the Russian mob. The victim's original business partner in the baby food company has seen something that definitively connects the hit-man to the mobster who is on trial. When she learns the Russian mob is involved, though, she is reluctant to testify. She changes her story at trial, and says she never saw the hit-man before. Stone is furious, and threatens her with felony perjury. Eventually, she accepts Stone's promise that he'll get her into witness protection. She testifies, and the mobster is found guilty of orchestrating the murder. Shortly thereafter, the witness is shot dead. Stone blames himself, since he pressured her so much into testifying. Stone tells Schiff he's resigning. They share a moment. Stone's last words to Schiff are "I'm clear as a bell." He affectionately puts his hand up around Schiff's ear and then exits. The episode's title refers both to the Russian mob's interconnections, and, of course, to Schiff and Stone.

Of course the real reason Moriarty exited the show was completely ridiculous - Janet Reno was spying on him with his own microwave oven or something to that effect - but on the bright side we DID get Sam Waterston as new executive DA Jack McCoy the following season.
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Arrivederci, indeed
dart8520 February 2015
I'm a little ashamed for previous reviewers because of obvious errors in reviewing this episode.

First, the actress's name is Allison Janney. It's not hard to look someone up and get the name right, especially since she went on to a very nice gig on The West Wing.

In further response to a previous reviewer, please do your research before sounding off next time.

Steven Hill has said this episode stands out as one of his most memorable because of the departure of Michael Moriarty. There is no ill will between the actors, and any suggestion thereof is imagined and/or interpreted from a skewed point of view.

The respect and affection Moriarty and Hill had for one another shows in the way their final scene is played. Any fool can see that.
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