Law & Order: Season 17, Episode 22

The Family Hour (18 May 2007)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.8
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While investigating the murder of a senator's ex-wife, detectives find an alarming history of domestic abuse involving the entire family. However, the investigation comes to an abrupt halt when the senator is caught killing his daughter.

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Title: The Family Hour (18 May 2007)

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While investigating the murder of a senator's ex-wife, detectives find an alarming history of domestic abuse involving the entire family. However, the investigation comes to an abrupt halt when the senator is caught killing his daughter.

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18 May 2007 (USA)  »

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The casting problems come to the fore with this episode. We see a bearded Jeremy Sisto as barrister Clint Glover. In the very next episode, with some major casting changes, we see Sisto playing Detective Cyrus Lupo. See more »

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A wife of a known senator gets assassinated.
6 August 2007 | by (United States/Russia) – See all my reviews

I begin by saying that I am a fan of Law and Order: The Original (LAO). I have watched many episodes, and I was always amazed by how writers were able to find a great topic, dilemmas, and construct suspense. Every court session was written in a very realistic manner.

However, this episode "The Family Hour" cannot compare to the previous seasons' series and here is why: 1) Casting is terrible 2) Writing is terrible: weak dialog, bad action/dialog balance 3) Directing is awful 4) Poor soundtrack 5) Weak theme.

1) So, first, I was very upset about casting (in this whole season). I would really like to know whose idea it was to replace Dennis Farina (Detective Joe Fontana) with Milena Govich (Detective Nina Cassady). I can understand hiring a sexy actress to play a D.A. (e.g. Elisabeth Röhm - A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn). It's OK, I can understand it. Appearance of a good looking woman makes it more enjoyable. But, please do not turn Law and Order into Baywatch! I mean, I have nothing against Govich, she is a great looking woman, but it is not her role.

What characteristics do you think about when you hear the words: police homicide detective? I would say it should be a prick like Jerry Orbach's character (Detective Lennie Briscoe), or some buffed up guy, who would convince a suspect that he/she is guilty even when he/she is not only by looking at him/her. But Govich? The only thing I think about is that she is good looking. The problem is that she is too feminine for this role. She looks too delicate to play a detective on LAO. She just does not blend in. Sorry, but she is no Cagney or Lacey.

Second, the interaction between her and Jesse L. Martin (Detective Ed Green) just does not feel right. They are both similar, so we are aware what to expect from both of them. However, Martin and Farina were a perfect pare. We could not guess what they were going to comment on next, so we payed attention to each sentence. Their dialog was really funny.

2) What happened with witty dialog, fast-paced action, and interesting and controversial themes? First, dialog is really boring. Cut half of what they say and we would still learn as much. Second, camera work is terrible. Angles and characters' pauses are really not what I got used to in LAO. This is one of the reasons I do not watch other versions of LAO, there is too much blah-blah, and very little action.

3) Let's go back a little, some shots I saw in original LAO are really superb! For example, (I do not remember an episode title, but it was about a broker from NYSE who got killed) a shot begins with a camera moving through a shiny metallic surface reflecting a beautiful garden and then cutting the frame in two, and showing the detectives. We then see that it was an open trunk of an expensive car that produced this effect. It was a really cool shot. But if I would have seen this episode prior seeing any previous seasons, I would say what is this weird thing and would never watch it again.

4) No more music makes the scenes appear naked. Again, I compare it to previous seasons, so maybe I am just used to it, but it really does seem that something needs to be added in order to make the scenes move faster. Otherwise, they appear really boring.

5) This episode (The Family Hour) begins with a short scene that shows the personality flaws of a victim when she is still alive (basically she is being a pain in the rear end to everyone). After that, the shot immediately cuts to her dead body and the police examining the scene. OK guys, this is not Columbo! The specific trait of the whole series was that we get to learn about a victim after his/her murder. And then when the trial begins, we try to choose whose side we are on.

For example, who would we support: a dad who killed an insurance agent because he refused to pay for his daughter's medicine and by doing so signed a death penalty for her, or the insurance agent's family who lost their husband and dad. This IS an interesting dilemma. As we learn about the case, we are able to form our opinion about it. But in "Family Hour" episode, it really does not matter because we already know that she was an idiot, so whoever killed her did it for a reason.

It really feels that the funding was cut or something major happened that caused the production take place in fewer locations and with less action. Otherwise, it just does not make sense to me. I really hope that the producers and writers would consider turning back to the established guidelines, with no Baywatch or Columbo elements, but instead with serious drama, suspense and controversy.


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