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My concern prior to watching this was that the pace and the story
wouldn't adapt well to the UK style - The Bill is quite plodding and
small scale, but I was pleasantly surprised that, whilst intimate,
L&OUK was paced superbly and kept me gripped 'til the end.
The only real gripe is that the DAHDAH's aren't used much....and that titles at each end seem out of keeping with the show: I suppose I'm used to the US version after so many years...
On the Law side Jamie Bamber, using his native accent, was fracking good, but Bradley Walsh was the absolute surprise hit for me: he's an ex-professional footballer (soccer star) who is known as a bit of a naff comic and when he's acted before you see BW not the character - not in this though...
The Order side familiar actors are again viewed as the characters rather than 'oooh he/she was in...' I think this is testament to a great, tight script More of the same please!
I have been a long time fan of Law and Order (USA) and also a fan of Law and Order CI - but not a fan, however, for the past few years of L and O's SVU which has gone completely haywire in my opinion - trying to outmatch CSI's graphic special effects and violence and just not working. The regular L and O was getting a bit dull, but seems to have had a kind of rebirth with some new actors the past few seasons, but even so, it's pretty tired, I think. I found Law and Order UK a refreshing change -- equal to (maybe even better than?) and yet different enough from the regular L and O to make it really compelling. Law and order (USA) has always made the justice system its main target and the various story lines wind through their way through the US legal system showing its strengths and weaknesses. The legal system in Britain is very different from the US system, of course, which makes it even more interesting. Like New York, London makes a great backdrop for the series. All actors are strong except for Freema Agyman. I have never found her to be a particularly strong actress. I wish they had chosen someone with a sharper edge - someone "real" and less like an actress simply playing a bleeding-heart role. Agyman plays it way too soppy and wide-eyed -- which makes her very annoying. Bradley Walsh plays Ronnie Brooks perfectly, (right now Bradley IS the show) and who can complain when the amazing Harriet Walter (I wish she was in it more!) and Bill Paterson (ditto) show up on a great show like this? Ben Daniels is also very good as Senior Crown Attorney, James Steel. I loved the two episodes I've seen so far. Top notch!
Law & Order: UK is another franchise of the long running Law & Order
series. All of the classic elements of L&O has been kept including the
classic introduction speel and even the dunk-dunk noise between scenes.
Why fix something that's not broke?
The pilot has its good and bad points, most of which are intertwined. I'm impressed with the acting over-all, particularly that of Ben Daniels, Bradley Walsh and Jamie Bamber. Freema Agyeman appears to be the weak link. I'm probably biased though, I didn't like her (limited) acting style in "Doctor Who" or "Survivors" - hopefully I'll be proved wrong in future episodes. There was an extraordinarily odd moment with Bradley Walsh who was SMILING, (in what I assume was an effort to appear caring and sympathetic), when the mother was bawling over her dead baby. Lordy.
I actually really like the shaky, continually moving camera work, which gives a gritty, realistic feel to the show, whilst helping to give energy to dialogue-heavy show. However, the type of film used makes the show seem like every other cheap British staple (e.g. The Bill, Casualty or Eastenders). Maybe this was supposed to add to the show's gritty feel but it just didn't work for me.
The worst elements of this show is that it seems to mangle our "UK" law (actually being the law of England and Wales, specifically contained within London) and stretches the validity of how courtrooms work. But it is only a TV show, and I ain't no lawyer so whatchagonado???
I definitely think its worth tuning in again to see how this show pans out. Potentially, Law & Order: UK could be one of the best shows in the UK, combining some excellent actors with thoughtful insights and though-provoking issues.
Or it good go a bit Pete tong, but you won't find out unless you keep watching...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The makers of this show should have recognised that the UK audience has
kept pace with high-end US police and legal shows, and its expectations
have risen in common with the US in the time since the L&O franchise
first began. US shows like "The Wire" and "Damages", the UK's "Prime
Suspect", France's excellent policier "Engrenages" ("Spiral" in the UK)
and Swedish export "Wallander" have all considerably raised the bar: in
the policing and detecting and legalising, in the character
development, there's more of the believable real-life criminality, more
development of the complex psychological forces that motivate all
sides. You can't then expect an audience used to these shows to be
happy to "start at the beginning".
So "Law & Order: UK" doesn't feel like a step forward, coming off a bit uncomplicated and unchallenging, and for me now, that's just not good enough. OK, so the show doesn't make grand claims to be groundbreaking TV, just good old fashioned entertainment but it's so very old fashioned! I've seen user review comparisons with long-running UK police show "The Bill", which isn't complimentary. "The Bill" is like a nursery skiing slope for programme makers; so a machine and smooth and skillful as the L&O franchise ought to be able to easily outstrip it. That's arguable, so far.
Having said this, there's a lot to like (plus it's always nice to see British actors gainfully employed). I like the pairing of Bradley Walsh (a very pleasant surprise he turned out to be!) and Jamie Bamber (great in "Battlestar Galactica"). I like the law element, and the way that Freema Agyeman sort of takes care of (the sometimes rather emotionally unstable?) Ben Daniels. There's a particularly moving and strong episode about sexual assault. But I don't feel I'm getting much insight into the legal knowledge necessary to bring a case to prosecution (skimping on consultation perhaps); and I was underwhelmed by the moments surely among the most dramatic in law? when it becomes clear, for example, that the police trail has gone cold, or a case is no longer viable for prosecution. L&O should take notes from "Engrenages" on how to make the contrast of the different departments police and law interact and sometimes clash excitingly. The drama lies doesn't it? in the way 'the system' makes a conveyor belt and a lottery of personal accident, people's wishes, innocence and guilt.
It's still watchable and entertaining and I'll be watching as each episode airs but if this makes it to a second series I'd like to see more challenging scripts, longer story arcs that allow for complex exploration of the uncomfortable truces between law and order, and chaos and crime, that the police and judicial world actually live with. I'd also like to get a little bit more inside the heads of the slightly under-drawn protagonists. I don't see much (after the first episode) of the dry, gallows humour that might successfully differentiate the UK show from its US parents. If I wanted to be soothed and appeased with inoffensive no-brainer eye candy I'd watch Agatha Christie or the never-ending "Midsomer Murders" (for my sins).
I have to say I thought this was going to fall flat on its face. I'm
sure like other posters that I had gotten so used to the way the US
show was directed, acted, and written I simply assumed the British
version would jar somewhat, after all it was being aired on ITV, and
London is not New York.
I was shocked, it is somewhat more gritty than its US cousin, down to earth, and well adapted and directed, and it has traded suspense for dramatic effect to its credit.
The standard of acting is a little patchy, fine it is television, and the US version is more often that not a little top heavy. Michael Moriarty is one of the most talented actors I have ever had the pleasure to watch, much the same can be said about Sam Waterston, Jerry Orbach, S. Epatha Merkerson and Steven Hill, but the assistant DA's were often weak, and so were some of the other protagonists. In the UK show the guests have made a superb showing.
London does not have the mob figures of New York so it will be interesting to see how they translate those particular episodes. If you were thinking that it could not be as good, then I think you too will be in for a pleasant surprise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just watched the premiere of "Law & Order: UK" on U-Tube, (hopefully
it will appear on my local cable outlet before long: per Wikipedia,
Dick Wolf would like to show it on NBC). I've loved Law & Order for
years but also enjoy the British cop shows so this new program unites
two great traditions with plenty of know-how.
The premiere is based on episode #40 of the original series, "Cradle to Grave", first shown 3/31/92. Per "Law & Order: The Unofficial Companion" by Kevin Courrier and Susan Green, which came out in 1998, "Cradle to Grave" was "written during a period when the Upper West Side of Manhattan was undergoing massive renewal. There were several landlords who were notorious for hiring thugs to throw little old ladies out on the street with their belongings and then trash the building so they couldn't get back in. And the city did not have the capacity at the time to cope with how much of it was happening. You were sickened every day with wonder as to how anybody could do this." One poster decried the use of early L&O scripts of the UK series, saying that one of the aspects of the original show that he liked was the "ripped from the headlines" relevancy of it. I'm sure this type of thing continues to go on anywhere in the world where urban renewal is taking place and that the writers of L&O-UK would not have chosen this episode to adopt unless it was just as relevant to London in 2009 as it was to New York in 1992.
One difference appears to be the climate. In the original, the baby froze to death because the heat was turned off in the winter and the temperature in the building was 20 degrees Fahrenheit, (which is about -7 Centigrade). In the UK version, the baby died of gas inhalation. I guess the Gulf Stream required the script to be altered a bit.
I was pleased to see that the "Law & Order" style was retained: the hand-held camera, the jump cuts, the no-nonsense dialog, the sardonic humor and the concentration on the case, which we follow in it's, (unnaturally rapid), progress through the courts. It was recognizably L&O but adapted to the British system of justice, complete with those adorable wigs they still wear in court. The cast was good, although American ears will have a tough time following the cockney-style dialog of the cops, (are the US cops as impenetrable to British ears?).
There has been some comment about the unlikelihood of ex-athlete and comedian Bradley Walsh in the "veteran cop" role but I think he does OK. You will note that the most beloved of the veteran cops on the original L&O was played by Jerry Orbach, a legendary Broadway song and dance man. I'm sure that's what they had in mind, although the veteran cop in "Cradle to Grave" is Paul Sorvino as Phil Cerretta, (a much underrated performance).
I really like Ben Daniels as the prosecutor. He really hits all the right notes. Posters have compared him to Jack McCoy, (Sam Waterson), but "Cradle to Grave" is a Ben Stone, (Michael Moriarity), episode. I like Jack/Sam but Ben/Michael has always been my favorite prosecutor.
Dick Wolf has suggested that if this new series is a success, there could be a "hands across the water" cross-over episode. I'd love to see it. He also is thinking of extending it to other countries. He's talking about a Muslim version: Law and Order: Cairo. I'd suggest one in Jerusalem, which would have to deal with multiple religious and legal traditions, or Mumbai, (a perfect follow-up to "Slumdog Millionaire"). Maybe we could have a Law & Order: Bejing to see how cops and lawyers try to find justice in a non-democracy. Maybe someday the whole world will be united by hearing that "doink doink" and by a greater understanding of each other's legal and moral traditions
Like an earlier poster, I've never watched any of the bewildering array
of either CSI or Law and Order series. In fact, I haven't watched a US
cop show since NYPD Blue and I haven't seen a US courtroom drama since
the days of dear old Perry Mason so I have no idea how this UK version
compares and nor do I care.
All I know is that this is an entertaining and engrossing drama. The stories feature different crimes, not just murder after murder and the good guys don't always win. Bradley Walsh is a revelation, Jamie Bamber is virtually unrecognisable after playing Apollo and Bill Paterson has never turned in a bad performance.
Well, as a die hard fan of most of the Law and Order franchises (save
for the Los Angeles declination), I must say I got hooked from watching
the very first episode on (BBC America ya'll- Friday nights at 9pm or
at Comcast on Demand).
Just like the US version, a lot of the stories are based on news items that make it big in the UK. The treatment is gritty and captures your attention and it is always fun to listen to British slang (which I must admit sometimes escapes me completely and I must rely on general context to try and guess what they are saying, but I am not complaining as it makes for a little bit more flavor).
The acting is really, really good across the board. I like all the characters, and I am especially engrossed in the procedural side of the stories, as it is very interesting to me to see how it is done (albein in a serialized fashion) overseas. I think the cast is across the board good and they all work together really well.
So, all told, this Law and Order/UK has gained a loyal follower.
We have become huge fans of L&O UK through DVD--we have seen 8 episodes so far and we're very eager for additional seasons to be released in the NTSC format (right now, subsequent seasons are only on PAL). Even though I live in NYC, the outer boroughs are often treated as second class citizens by our cable companies and we do not have access to BBC America, where the series is shown stateside. The rapport and dialogue between the detectives is realistic and entertaining, and it has been a treat to watch the British court system at work (we had to look up the rules/options re: wigs/robes) and are curious that some statements permitted by the attorneys would surely have earned sustained objections in our courts (of course, this is also TV's stretch) The gritty camera-work and neighborhood locations are effective, the adaptations of US episodes have worked beautifully and the acting across the board has been fine. More DVD's please!
I am a big fan of L/O, particularly L/O and L/O CI. I find the UK
version extremely interesting and exciting. The nuances between the US
and UK criminal systems are fascinating as are the similarities. The
differences in the Miranda warnings, the demeanor of the attorneys
(barristers) in court, the defendant in the docks all make for a great
education on the legal systems. It is great to have a Lennie Briscoe
type character in Bradley Walsh. The understated humor is terrific. The
rest of the cast is first rate also. Really getting attached to them.
When is the second season coming out on DVD? We are planning a trip to
London in October and can't wait to visit the Old Bailey.
Also looking forward to L/O LA. Dick Wolf is amazing.
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