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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.
*** This review may contain 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
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.
*** This review may contain 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
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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