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How You Can Tell
schappe130 November 2004
Here's how you can tell, (sort of), which season a rerun of this show was originally part of. Most of us watch the reruns even more than the regular show and even discovered the regular show through the re-runs so I thought this might be helpful for the newbies.

1988: The pilot has a grainy look to it. The offices of the lawyers are more proletarian that the wood-paneled hives they now work in. The big thing is that the DA, (as opposed to the Executive Assistant DA- let's call him the EADA, or the assistant DA- let's call her the ADA), is played for the one and only time by Roy Thinnes, who must have finally escaped from 'The Invaders'. It's about the Masucci Crime Family, (who will be back), corrupting public officials and ends will a lengthy scroll about the ongoing fight against corruption, etc.

1990-91: Short, heavy-set, balding George Dzundza is the cynical older cop. Dzundza left because he preferred to live and work where it was warmer and his character, (played by his stand-in), gets bumped off in the first episode of the second season.

1991-92: Paul Sorvino plays his replacement, nice-guy Phil Cerretta. The show actually began the next year with the same cast but Sorvino wanted to leave to become an opera singer so poor Phil got shot by a black-market arms dealer in November, 1992 and was replaced by the classic dog-faced flatfoot, Jerry Orbach as Lenny Briscoe.

1993-94: It had been an all-male cast so they brought in Jill Hennessy to replace Richard Brooks as the ADA. But Brooks was black so they had to bring in another black character, (my interpretation) so out went the excellent Dann Florek as Lt. Cragan, to be replaced by S. Epatha Merkerson, (I can always remember her name but not the characters).

1994-5: Michael Moriarity had come apart due to, (from what I've read), alcohol and chronic mental problems that resurfaced. He was replaced this season by Sam Waterson, who came over from 'I'll Fly Away' as the EADA. Meanwhile perennial malcontent, (again from what I've read), Chris Noth either wanted out or was wanted out and his character, Mike Logan, slugs another corrupt public official on the steps of the courthouse, (after the smug perp gets off), and is banished to Staten Island, later to return in a TV movie.

1995-96: The year of the first true 'Homicide' cross-over, (Noth as Logan had done a cameo the previous year), and the rare L&O episode that was about the regulars, who witnesses an execution and then spend the day and night drinking it off. It all ends with Hennessy's character, Clare Kincaid, dying in an auto accident. RIP.

1996-98 Carey Lowell replaced Hennessy. Dick Wolf had apparently decided to get ready for the next abrupt departure by creating a sub-plot for each character to explain why they might leave: Adam Schiff was facing a tough election, (and his wife was dying), McCoy was up on ethics charges, (finally). Jaime Ross's sleazy ex-husband was trying to win custody of their child by claiming she was working too hard. Van Buren was suing the city for discrimination in promotions. Lenny Briscoe's daughter gets rubbed out by a dope ring. Rey Curtis' wife has MS. So what happened? Nothing. Everyone stayed.

1998-99: Lowell DID leave, for a similar reason as her character's- she had a baby with Richard Gere and wanted to spend time with her child. Angie Harmon, a real firecracker, came in to replace her.

1999-00: Bratt left to spend more time with HIS movie star other half, Julia Roberts, (it didn't last). Jesse Martin replaced him.

2000-01: Hill finally left to be replaced with Diane Wiest.

2001-02: Harmon left to be with her new hubby, football star Jason Sehorn, to be replaced by the much maligned, (and under-rated), Elizabeth Rohm. 9/11 made it an interesting season to come in.

2002-04: Senator Fred Thompson replaces Wiest.

2004-05: By bye Lennie Briscoe. Hello Dennis Farnia. Does it even matter that his character's named Fontana?

Sooo…Thinnes= '88 pilot. Dzundza = 1st season (90-91). Sorvino = 2nd season or early third, (91-92). Orbach reporting to Florek = 3rd season, (92-93). Moriarity working with Hennessy = 4th season, (93-94). Waterson and we still have Noth= 5th season, (94-95). Bratt and we still have Hennessy = 6th season, (95-96). Carey Lowell is either the 7th season, (96-97) or 8th season, (97-98). Harmon and we still have Bratt = 9th season (98-99). Martin and we still have Hill = 10th season, (99-00). Wiest working with Harmon = 11th season, (00-01). Wiest working with Rohm = 12th season, (01-02). Thompson and we still have Orbach = 13th, (02-03) or 14th, (03-04) season. Farina, so far = 15th season, (04-05).

My dream cast? I'll take the crusty but forceful Thompson over the merely crusty Hill as the DA. I like Moriarity's Stone somewhat more than Waterson's McCoy. They are two of the finest actors of their generation but I prefer Stone's idealism to McCoy's 'winning is everything' attitude. Actually, I wish the series had both of them and had them alternated, with their different approaches. Hennessy's intelligent sensitivity and expressive face made her the best ADA. Florek is the classic middle manager who gets it from both sides. Orbach fits like an old glove. Noth's emotionalism made him more exciting that the other young cops. There was never a season when they were all together but the fourth season, 1993-94 was about the best.
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Watch it for Briscoe and McCoy!
domino100312 January 2004
To be honest, I didn't become a real fan of the series until Jerry Orbach (Detective Briscoe)and Sam Waterston(EADA McCoy)came into the picture. This is when the series starts to pick up steam. Watching the show, you can't help but laugh at Briscoe's remarks or feel the passion of McCoy. Both of these men want justice, and will do everything within limits to bring the wrongdoers to justice. What I really like about the show is the wonderful twists and turns that they throw to the audience, as well as the "ripped from the headlines" episodes. Even though you have 2 more in the "Law And Order" franchise, the original is STILL the best!
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"Law & Order" solves local crime
maryedgar-14 May 2004
On Sunday, May 2, 2004, the local newspaper, The Free Lance-Star, reported the discovery of a body in a dumpster outside a motel. The following day , the paper reported the arrest of the murderer, thanks in part to the quick action of one of the motel residents. While the police were securing the crime scene, one of the by-standers was approached by a man who asked her what was going on. When she told him about the body, he ran across the street and jumped onto a waiting van. She later told a newspaper reporter that she had "watched enough "Law and Order" episodes to know suspicious behavior when she sees it." She got out her camera-phone and starting taking photographs of the man and the license plate on the van. The police downloaded the photos, tracked down the van, connected all the dots, and had the killer in custody 39 hours after the discovery of the body. "Law and Order" RULES !!
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One of the few good television shows still standing...
mentalcritic22 December 2004
Television in Western society has become something of a cultural and imaginative wasteland, with the lowest common denominator now firmly in charge. As attempts to create something imaginative or different get cancelled faster than Mike Tyson can embarrass the sport of boxing, the drivel that we call Reality TV just keeps on keeping on. Which makes those of us with an active brain in our heads all the more grateful that a simple two-act series about criminal prosecution can last for fourteen-plus years.

The premise is as refreshing as it is simple. Before Law & Order, the majority of television shows about lawyers showed defense lawyers doing the police's job and solving cases for them. Competent police or prosecution lawyers did not exist in this highly fictitious setting, so Law & Order turned that on its head. Law & Order begins with a witness running into a victim, or a victim coming forth after some kind of unspeakable act. First, the police, almost always represented by two particular detectives, gather evidence and make inquiries. Then the district attorneys attempt to prosecute the case. Very simple at first, but it is the complex relationships between the regular cast, as well as the quirks of the guest stars, that make the show what it is.

Like any long-running television series, Law & Order has had its ups and downs. I doubt that anyone is going to look upon the era in which Jill Hennessy was replaced by Carey Lowell, indisputably the worst Bond girl of all time, with any great kindness. Indeed, the true golden era of the show was with Jerry Orbach, Benjamin Bratt, Jill Hennessy, and Sam Waterston. Now that three of this foursome have left the show, and no less than three attempts to fill the very big void left by Hennessy have failed, it looks like Law & Order has long passed its apex. Not that this is necessarily bad. All good things must come to an end, even if many would prefer a bad Law & Order to a good Survivor.

Aside from the cast dynamic, the stories are what makes the show truly work. Although they are quite relevant to the modern era, they show no signs of dating, with a story from the first season often seeming as current as a story from the most recent, changes in prices, fashions, or cultures notwithstanding. Although many of the stories are uniquely American in nature, a fair percentage are of the kind that could literally happen anywhere.

Another aspect that sets Law & Order apart is its ability to show that even the simplest of cases do not always have a happy ending. Blatant murderers go free because someone at the lab screws up a test, people we sympathise with in spite of their guilt are sent to prison and meet grisly fates, or some of the inequities of the system are displayed in such bold colour its a wonder the show hasn't been clamped down upon by the current President. This is a good thing, however, as a less sugar-coated version of the system makes for much more compelling viewing. In the end, one gets to see that while the system is not perfect, it works hard to protect everyone, which is just the way it should be. It is not a coincidence that many of the District Attorney characters who quit often wind up coming back in guest appearances... as defense lawyers. Even the excruciating Carey Lowell made a half-decent fist of such a return.

Were I giving Law & Order a score, it would be a solid ten out of ten. In spite of some woeful casting decisions, it has never had a truly dull moment. Maybe soon it might even find a second wind, relatively speaking.
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Gritty and Compelling Ensemble Drama That Works
louiepatti27 September 2004
This intense drama, now in its 15th season and still going strong, set the stage for ensemble drama, in which the cast plays a secondary role to the story. Law & Order, as originally conceived, drew the viewer into the process by which American law enforcement and litigation works, or doesn't, depending on the viewer's opinion. The first half-hour is devoted to the investigation of a crime, the second to its prosecution. Cases are made or lost by evidence, lack thereof, a technicality, or even judicial whim. Dick Wolf made it clear from day one that the cast was expendable; no prima donnas here. The first cast was all male, with one African-American. Wolf apparently caved to fan pressure for a more politically-correct spectrum, but it really didn't matter so long as the actors could carry the story forward. His best casting choice was Jerry Orbach, his worst Elisabeth Rohm, but with or without these people, the drama continues. In recent years, L&O has lost some of the grittiness that made it so compelling, and I do miss actors such as Steven Hill, Michael Moriarty, Chris Noth, Jill Hennessy and now Orbach, but the show is still far superior to the majority of what passes for prime-time programming. It only suffers in the rare episodes when a politically-correct message is pushed into the story, i.e., whenever it deviates from its original format of presenting how the criminal justice system works. Ignore the spinoffs; the original Law & Order is still the best.
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Still compelling after all these years
Monika-55 March 2002
I only started watching L&O a few years ago, and am hooked on the brilliant writing, acting, and direction that have made this show so popular for so long. Jerry Orbach is great as Lennie, and I was stunned to learn that he also played the voice of Lumiere, the French candlestick in Beauty and the Beast! His sarcastic one-liners never fail to get me laughing, and he and his new partner, Jesse L. Martin as Ed Green, have a good rapport and are believable as partners. On the "Order" side, Sam Waterston, Dianne Wiest, and Elisabeth Rohm are equally compelling. New cast member Rohm has gotten better as she's gone along; she had big shoes to fill as Angie Harmon's replacement. Because the stories are all driven by the plots, and not the characters' personal lives, it makes the constant cast turnover more believable. It's a testament to Dick Wolf and co. that such a smart, sharp show has stayed on the edge after almost 12 years! My only beef is I'm tired of hearing "Ripped from the headlines" in every promo. That, though, is a minor quibble. Wednesday nights wouldn't be the same without it!
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The Criminal Justice System
bkoganbing26 April 2010
Law And Order is a testament to the intelligence of the American viewing public that if police drama and courtroom drama is presented intelligently doesn't need crazy car chases nor choreographed police shootouts to become a hit. It has stayed at the top of the viewing public's taste because of the intelligent way it presents the criminal justice system and the issues of the day.

The typical Law And Order episode will have a murders the cops will investigate and arrest their suspect and then the District Attorney will take over. The ADA be it Michael Moriarty, Sam Waterston, or Linus Roache will have some obstacle tossed his way by smart defense lawyering or a judge that will hinder the prosecution. They will have to overcome it and most of the time they do. But not always, defense lawyers do win, it's why they command the fees they do and folks this is not Perry Mason.

The show's concept has struck a resonating tone with the public, it has to be the concept because no other show in the history of television drama has undergone as many cast changes as Law And Order. Even the boss has changed with New York County having four District Attorneys in the time of the show with Steven Hill, Dianne Weist, Fred DaltonThompson and now Sam Waterston moved up through the ranks. Hill was clearly based on the District Attorney in Manhattan for almost 40 years Robert Morgenthau.

The police are also an interesting lot. I think the show really lost something when Jerry Orbach left and died. Lennie Briscoe had the map of New York written across his face and I used to live for Orbach delivering Briscoe's cynical, but uncanny observations about life and love. There were good actors before and after Orbach, but none ever really got the essence of New York in their character.

Three regulars have died on the show, ADAs Jill Eikenberry and Annie Parisse, and Detective George Dzundza. Two of the ADAs Richard Brooks and Carey Lowell have become defense attorneys and have come back to the show on a few occasions. One I've been waiting to come back as a defense attorney was Elizabeth Rohm. When Fred Dalton Thompson fired Rohm and said she was more suitable as a defense attorney and after she confessed that she was a lesbian, I've been waiting for her return.

One of the other things I liked about the show was the steady semi-regular cast of defense attorneys who would appear now and then. Of the group I liked the late George Grizzard, Tovah Feldshuh, and Bob Dishy. And it was a special episode indeed when the late William Kunstler did a cameo role to defend a Sixties radical who was now in custody.

This show spun two successful other Law And Order franchises, Special Victims and Criminal Intent. Those shows have their points, but I think Law And Order sticks far more to reality than the others. Both the two spin-offs are likely to come up with some really wacky scenarios that go far beyond the scope of the shows.

This show could run forever as it apparently isn't dependent on any one player to succeed. And it has a never ending supply of plots taken from real life. What could be better?
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The Original is the Best!
RevolverConnery13 January 2009
You don't have to look far to find quality TV. Law and Order has been doing it for almost 20 years. Forget about CSI and Cold Case and other imitators out there nothing tops Law and Order. Even though recently new characters that have been coming into play (almost the entire cast has changed in just the last 3 seasons leaving Lt. Van Buren and new DA Jack McCoy as the only long standing characters with Detective Ed Green's sudden departure last season)the show is still going strong and is still interesting. Even the reruns are great to watch. There are some episodes that you can really just get into.

If you haven't seen it then check it out. It is still one of the best shows out there 10 of 10
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chanelit-15 August 2003
I have to hand it to you Americans - when it comes to decent TV shows, you have us Brits beaten, hands down; Sopranos, Six Feet Under and this, Law & Order.

It's an excellent show which makes for firmly compulsive viewing, with great scripts and solid acting. The icing on the cake for me is the stunningly beautiful Angie Harmon as an Assistant D.A.

It's a top show - if you haven't seen it already, then make sure you see it next time it's on - well worth a look.
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The Definition of Drama
crbr0118 March 2008
There are many shows that are known for some sort of drama. For example, for the genre SCI-FI is Stargate: SGI or even STAR TREK. For the Drama area would be Law & Order. Lined up through drama from the 27th precinct to the court-room and the DA'S office, it is everywhere. The show is designed in a specific design. The first half of the show focuses on the police of, now in its eighteenth season, has Detective Ed Green and Detective Curtis Lupo under Lieutenant Van Buren. The second half deals with the DA'S office which, now in its eighteenth season, has ADA Cutter with ADA Rubirosa under DA McCoy, who originally since season five was the ADA. All the drama for anything comes from this show. This is the show to look up to, with all the success and popularity it has had everywhere. It is the most known Crime-Drama show ever and currently the most long-running show on television.
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I wish this show was broken out for review by seasons...
calvinnme4 December 2010
...because I could write several paragraphs on each season alone, it's that good. What made this show work for twenty years was that its focus is on the case, not the private lives of the detectives and prosecutors. The structure of each show is simple and over twenty years it does not vary. The first half consists of the discovery of the crime and the determination of suspects that can be charged. Here the focus is on the two police officers - usually a young cop/old cop dynamic - and their supervisor. The second half focuses on trial of the suspect and thus the prosecutors, the D.A. himself/herself in small doses, and large doses of the executive and assistant D.A.'s.

There have been almost thirty people play the six starring roles in this series over the years with probably the door revolving the most in the person of the assistant D.A., which is what you would expect in real life. Special mention has to go to a few of the long-timers though - Sam Waterston first as executive D.A. and then D.A., as well as Jerry Orbach who played the role of Lennie Briscoe, the "old cop" from 1992-2004 and probably the most beloved character in the series' history. Lennie had his private life intrude on the show more than any character, since Lennie had a colorful history of alcoholism, multiple divorces, and a daughter who shared her father's substance abuse problem. Then there is Jesse L. Martin as Ed Green, who was first the "young cop" starting in 1999 and then the "old cop" as senior partners came and went. At first his rather blustering style took some getting used to, but by the time he exited in 2008 I was as sad as when Lennie left. It seemed like the guy had been there since day one. Steven Hill had practically a cameo role as the actual elected D.A. for ten seasons, yet his wit and wisdom during his brief sessions on case strategy added a real touch of spice.

This show is practically a time capsule of important American legal issues and current events from 1990 -2010, and it is interesting to see the changing attitudes of the times reflected in the show. Even now, twenty years later, the oldest episodes hold up under the test of time. As long as human nature remains as it is and always has been, as long as there are people seeking shortcuts and the easy way out, as long as things aren't always as they first appear, I can't see this show losing its appeal no matter how much time passes.
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A Diatribe Of Political Correctness
leftyguns23 December 2004
Though generally entertaining I find L & O to be the epitome of a diatribe of Political correctness. In particular the characters portrayed by Sam Waterson as ADA McCoy, and two of his second chairs Jill Hennesy as Claire Kincaid, and Elizabeth Rohm as Serena Southerlyn.

Sam Waterson comes on as a stereotypical unbending, intolerant outspoken PC guru, and is not outdone by obnoxious Jill Hennessy, and ultra-obnoxious Elizabeth Rohm. In the case of Rohm is a pity since she's extremely attractive, in par with Carey Lowell. But the role she plays is of an extremely enforcer, more of PC than the law.

This series' is never-the-less very realistic with it's police characters. All are very much typical of a large city detective. All with one ironic exception. Dennis Farina. ironic because he actually was a Police Officer in real life, as I was. But his persona is more in tune with a 70's television police character, than with a present day large city detective. He's too flamboyant, too "colorfull" a character more in tune with Colombo, and Starsky and Hutch. He replaced however the best most real character. Briscoe, excellently played by Jerry Orbach, who along with Green, Greevey, who with the outstanding support of Dann Florekl, the later Epatha Marketson as Captains Cragan, and VanBuren respectively make for very realistic portrayals of police brass. On the downside if only the arrests were more realistic. When making an arrest officer's priority is to secure prisoner cuff him/her and pull out of the area. A prisoner is not advised of his rights while being arrested. In real life this is done at the station under a more controlled setting.

Though with great potential the series is plaged by it's strict adherence to "political correctness"
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Straw-Men Galore!
messages-lc26 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If you like straw-man arguments re: the hot political topics of the day, then this is the show for you! If you can think for yourself... not so much.

The actors that weave in-and-out of the show's storyline are fairly accomplished and well-known. Many deliver great performances when they're not preaching or acting as the set-up men for Sam Waterson's political grandstanding.

In fact, if Law & Order weren't so hyper-political, it might be a halfway decent show. Instead, Sam Waterson preaches from his soapbox like his life depended on it. The viewer is force-fed a load of intensely- and obnoxiously-political garbage.

I liked this show a lot until I turned 13 and took a civics course. Once I was able to think for myself, I lost interest.
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Law and Order X 3
schappe17 January 2003
It was suggested to me that one of the best performances on television was being given by Vincent D'Onofrio on Law and Order: Criminal intent. I've always admired D' Onofrio's work, including his Orson Welles in Ed Wood and his turn as the man crushed in the subway accident on Homicide. I particularly liked that one because of his refusal to compromise by making the character likable. He was just a guy who had not planned to die that day and was angry at everybody for the fate that had befallen him. He made the character human so we could all relate to him. Unfortunately, I can't relate to the guy he plays on L&O:CI, an overbearing ham who chews up every scene he's in. I much prefer the other Law and Orders where the actors use more restraint.

I've watched the original L&O for about 10 years. When I first saw it I thought it was the best show I'd ever seen. it seemed grounded in the reality of it's subject and unlike the cross-sectional shows that tell too many stories at once and do justice to none of them. But I've grown tired of the rigid format of the show. The original law and order is still a good show but I get tired of it's rigid format where you can guess what will happen next based on the minute hand of the clock. At the top of the hour, some people are having a conversation when they suddenly find a body. Then we jump to the crime scene investigation where the detectives get the low-down and Briscoe, at about 5 after makes a wisecrack. then comes the opening credits. The detectives try to find out as much as they can over the next ten minutes but don't have any real leads. The lieutenant tells them they're full of it and sends them to check out some particular thing with uncovers an apparent motive for the murder. This comes at about 15 after. They grill the guy at the station house and maybe put him through a lineup with a defense attorney yipping at their heals. Then they find out the guy didn't do it and it turns out this story is about something else entirely. They find out what it is and at 25 after they tell it to the assistant DA who tells them they are full of it. But they convince her that they aren't full of it and she tells them to arrest the guy. Then comes everybody's favorite scene at half past, the "How dare you arrest me! Can't you see I'm doing something important?" scene. Then we come to everybody's other favorite scene, the arraignment where the other defense attorney tells the judge the prosecution's full of it and the judge tells the defense attorney that he's full of it. Then, at 25 of, the district attorney tells the executive district attorney and the assistant district attorney that they're full of it. The defense attorney concurs and presents the executive assistant DA with a motion to suppress whatever evidence they have for some ridiculous reason except that the judge thinks it's a wonderful reason at 15 of we're back where we started. Now the executive assistant and the assistant DA hatch a plan to bend the rules to get the guy convicted anyway. The only suspense is whether it works. And if it doesn't there's usually some extralegal retribution at the end. It's been a great show and it may go on forever but it is possible to get a little tired of it.

I'm not tired of SVU. This has an open-ended format. It's 90% the police and 10% the lawyers but it's mostly about the victims and the perpetrators and how they got that way. It can get a bit seamy at times but the writing and acting are great. Christopher Meloni and Jayne Mansfield's kid, Mariska Hargitay are passionate but under control as the leads. Dann Florek, who was on the original L&O at the beginning is great as their superior. Stephanie March is better than any of the assistant DA's on the original L&O since Jill Hennessy. And they have Richard Belzer reprising him "Munch" character from Homicide. It's always compelling.
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After a few soggy years, finally a great season in 2005
Juliette20053 June 2005
I've been a fan of this show for a long time, dating back to the first few years when it looked like it was filmed by college kids, and like any long term relationship it's sometimes been tough going. After a great first 4 or 5 years, it got a little bogged down, came to life again, and bogged down again, you get the picture.

Quite frankly I thought the show was going down for good the last few years, the cast seemed weak and bored and I didn't even bother to tune in each week, it seemed SVU was overtaking it.

But the good news is this past season it has sputtered back to life again, helped enormously by the new D.A. who yes is beautiful, but is also a very good actress. The scripts have gotten better too, overall I"d buy this season on DVD.

Standouts were the episode LICENCE TO KILL, GOV LOVE, and TOMBSTONE, which featured the shocker of seeing a regular character get shot! I did not see that coming and was roused out of my seat in astonishment at the cajones the show is finally showing again.

(Sidebar- I also watched the painful 'conclusion' of that episode on the woefully misconstrued TRIAL BY JURY, and was equally shocked at how bad that show was. Take it from me, stick to the original.) Yes the music remains cheesy and simplistic and yes you still never learn much about the characters private lives, but this show doesn't go for the easy quick fix and quick shock that SVU sometimes resorts to, and has far better stories than most any other show on television today. Long may it reign.
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One of the best television shows ever.
the_marlboro_man_8418 August 2005
In my opinion Law and Order is probably one of the best written and beautifully crafted shows around. The characters seem full of life and their own inner demons.I truly enjoy how the show lets the characters have their own feelings about matters. Even if the feeling isn't always a politically correct one.McCoy,Briscoe,Logan,and Schiff will always be my favorites.Their comments were always the best and face it Briscoe and Schiff could be hilarious at times.Hopefully the writing will stay interesting and the characters rich.So far this show has managed to skirt being to redundant.Which is a big feat for a show that's been on 15 years.Here's to many more years of a great show. In memory of Jerry Orbach.You will be missed.
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Bread and Circuses
The_Other_Snowman1 May 2005
My friends and roommates watch this show compulsively. Sometimes they watch three hours in a row. I have to bite my tongue to keep from insulting the TV screen.

I suppose I just don't understand this show. It's always obvious from the beginning who the guilty party is, especially when they try to trick you into thinking it's the neighbour. It's just as clear that the show will end with a guilty verdict, and that the defense attorneys will be incompetent. Along the way our heroic detectives will harass the defendant (even the one who obviously isn't the criminal) and break several laws obtaining evidence to use against the wrong guy. At the end of the day, they never even say "sorry."

I could forgive this if it weren't for the characters. Crabby old men and crabby young women comprise the cast of an average episode. At best they're two dimensional, and at worst they're extremely annoying (I'm not a fan of shows about assholes). They have no depth, and very little personality. Sam Waterston of the bushy eyebrows plays the heroic prosecutor, assisted by a rotating cast of severe young supermodels.

When, in the mid 1990's, this show crossed-over with "Homicide: Life on the Street", its actors reported that they had a much better time on the lower-rated detective show. On "Law & Order" the characters interrogate witnesses and suspects, and argue their cases in court. In "Homicide" the characters talk about the murders, the suspects, each other, and any number of other topics. "Law & Order" is entirely about the cases, rather than any of the individuals involved; "Homicide" was about the people and the effects of crime.

So, what's the appeal of a show with no suspense, and no character development? Do people watch this simply because they like to see the bad guys get what they deserve? Why not just watch "COPS"?
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My Number One show
xredgarnetx1 January 2008
It's funny. I have been watching the show since its inception, and consider it the best show on TV today, and yet I have rarely written about it. It is true the show's golden era (Orbach, Bratt, Waterston, Hennessey) has long passed, but the show somehow keeps moving forward, even with some bad choices in both permanent roles and guest spots. Of course, some of those permanent spots turned out to be far from permanent. The new season starts in a few days, and additional cast changes are in store. We shall see what we shall see. But it remains that no other show on television, including the many L&O spinoffs, comes close to touching the original LAW AND ORDER for originality, acting, scripting, direction and production values. I can only assume that show originator Dick Wolf is keeping an active hand in things. Having just watched large portions of an L&O New Year's marathon on TNT, I was struck by how much the show has developed but also that the show has had it "right" from the very beginning. It has rarely faltered.
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The Good Guys Win Too Much!!!!
dataconflossmoor5 July 2007
This is a television show which has a lot going for it, the format is pretty cut and dry... These emotionless figureheads, who work for the law, have to divide their time between plea bargaining, and becoming nauseated, yet detached, from the situations that they must cope with!! .. What is so realistic about this show is their astute depiction of due process!! The monotony involving the burden of proof becomes relegated to cumbersome nuisances which many city workers and appointed officials must expedite, in order to maintain peace and tranquility, or, as the show is entitled, law and order!!!! It is only for the television audience's benefit that the district attorneys in this show deviate from the norm, and demonstrate even a modicum of vigilante fervor!! The deals that the state makes with the defendants wind up being an in veritable jackpot of justice for the city of New York!! This is because the T.V. viewer has an insatiable craving to witness something which is remotely similar to a happy ending!! I give this series credit for being realistic in it's accurate portrayal of the arraignments, the trials, and the deliberation processes which inevitably adhere to an acceptable limit of legal authenticity!! Hence, the show later proceeds to indulge the prosecution with an eleemosynary generosity for purposes of conveying some sort of socially responsible message to the viewer!! While the scenario becomes a situation of "The good guys winning too much" these victories by the prosecution are candidly conditional, and therefore, very relevant in their overall premise!! You (The viewer) can thoroughly conceptualize how deliberations through the judicial system operate in New York City by watching "Law & Order" .... That is something you can count on!!! ABSOLUTELY!! No question about it!! This is one of the essential purposes of "Law & Order"

"Law & Order" has lasted for seventeen seasons, and is still one of the best television shows on the small screen!!! I think the dialog is extremely gripping, and the lethal oblivion to moral imperatives have left a crystal clear indication of how accommodating justice requires many dubious and distasteful compromises!! The district attorney must acquiesce to deals with a very sordid and nefarious cross section of felonious criminals in order to stay within the guidelines of statutory budget appropriations!!! Sometimes, the most apocalyptic and pitiful situations are what determine the outcome of a case!! The cacophony of hateful emotional hang-ups almost serve as a precarious form of vindication for the purveyors of the various and heinously orchestrated crimes that this series continuously manufactures !! Regardless of what happens, officials of the law have to bite the bullet, hold their noses, and look the other way!! Primarily, this is the obligatory scourge that the public officials on this show must capitulate to!! Such a plight correlates to actual dilemmas that our nation's public officials must struggle with!! One of the most prolific statements uttered on "Law & Order" was (I am paraphrasing) "The wealthy do not have an extreme overabundance of justice, the goal of due process is to simply raise the level of justice for the common man" I wholeheartedly agree with that statement!! It is a fact that in so many instances, with so many trials, plausibility for manifesting reasonable doubt has become intensely convoluted, and thus, has become an egregious bastardization of the American legal system!! Whether we like to admit it or not, television is an informative element of social exposure for the average American. "Law & Order" is a program which delves into prosecution proceedings at a rudimentary level of societal poignancy!! In it's own right, it ("Law & Order") throughout it's entire run, has auspiciously changed much of the formulae of television programming by elevating it to a relatively significant degree of egalitarian accuracy!! Most shows do not possess the fortitude to be that influential, not by any stretch of the imagination whatsoever!! The ensuing spin-offs of "Law & Order" have been very excellent as well!!

I like the series "Law & Order" ... In particular, I like some of the cast members like Chris Noth, Dennis Farina, and Chris Meloni!! Both Sam Waterson and Michael Moriarity have been excellent on this show too!! The directing, producing and particularly, the writing, have been sensational on "Law & Order" I believe this is one of the top 50 shows ever to hit the airwaves....A definite trophy in the small screen drama showcase!!!
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A PC Diatribe
leftyguns21 December 2004
Though Law & Order is in many aspects a very realistic police/law drama. The Adam Schiff, and Lenny Briscoe characters in particular very true to life (I was a Newark Nj Police Officer) I find it's strict adherence to "Political Correctness" it's major drawback. The Assistant DA McCoy played by Sam Waterson, and his second chair in particular Elizabeth Rohm (Serena Southerlyn) and Jill Hennessy (Claire Kincaid) are overbearing, and strictly adhering to PC, to the point off being outright obnoxious. Though I find Ms Rohm extremely attractive, her role is definitely not a sympathetic one.

I've observed that minorities, rarely if ever commit a crime. When they do it's usually under circumstances beyond their control.Also they tend to stereotype all those who oppose PC causes like abortion as being law-breakers with less than noble agendas. One would think that in this day and age we would be passed that. The shows inability to break from PC does it's other wise realism a major disservice.
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Smart, savvy, and endlessly compelling
movieman_kev30 September 2005
Law & Order has become a Television staple. It's genius in it's simplicity (30 minutes with the detectives followed by 30 for the courtroom drama complete with a last minute twist), excellent in it's realism (even if it's shaded by Politically correct BS in later years as the stories it "ripped for the Headlines" always seem to change the skin-tone of the perp). And even though most episode are interchangeable with any other given episode due to the episodic nature of the show, discernible only by who the Detectives happen to be that year, it's still makes for a highly compelling and engrossing, I still feel "Homicide" a show this one crossed over with a number of times, is the best detective show of the '90's, however that's more a personal preference as I prefer long, intricate story lines. With that said this show is FAR from chopped liver and is endless much more intelligent than the dumbed down flashy CSI franchise.

My Grade: A

Season 1 DVD Extras: The Creation of Law & Orderder with Dick Wolf (14 minutes, 15 seconds); and a trailer for the L&O: Dead on the Money video game

Season 2 DVD Extras: A 30 minute featurette that features interviews with cast members of the first & second seasons, plus Jerry Orbach

Season 3 DVD Extras: Deleted Scenes; a tribute to the gone before his time and dearly missed Jerry Orbach & Jerry Orbach profile

Season 14 DVD Extras: Profiles of Actors Jesse Martin and Fred Thompson, a set tour with Jerry Orbach; and Park Dietz interview
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A once-great show in terminal decline
thesnowleopard18 August 2005
Once upon a time, there was a great show called Law & Order that had a neat, fresh premise--show a murder case from the discovery of the crime all the way through to the end of the trial. It was current and topical, ripping off cases from the headlines and thinly (sometimes very thinly) fictionalizing them. Creator Dick Wolf's ruthlessness toward his cast also ensured that no one was safe. Sometimes, the detectives or prosecutors ended up victims themselves.

Fifteen years later, it has gone through numerous cast changes and spawned three spin-offs. Alas, despite occasional shots of the old brilliance in episodes like "Collision", it has also sunk deep into the morass of Dick Wolf's right-wing obsessions in the past six years. Half the time, I can't tell just what crime ADA Jack McCoy is trying to prosecute, and his conviction rate, compared to real-life DAs, is laughably low. Often, he seems to be trying people just for being rich, smug jerks. It's also quite irritating that African-Americans are so frequently portrayed only as druggies, pimps, prostitutes or irate professional victims (who always play the race card and get off), despite their appearance in the regular cast. The constant changes to the cast have further eroded the viewer's ability to empathize with the characters. They've become cookie-cutter outlines, not real people. It's not the fault of the actors. They're still good; it's the writing that sucks.

This used to be a brilliant, innovative show. But it has long since jumped the shark and it's not coming back. Let's put it to bed already.
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It's gritty, it's compelling, it's high quality-practically perfect in every way
TheLittleSongbird20 October 2009
I absolutely love Law and Order, it is one great show. It is gritty. It is compelling. It is high quality. For me, that equals perfection. The episode ideas are original and set the bar for other shows similar to this. The scripting makes the show compelling, for it is always exceptionally written, sophisticated and totally unpredictable. The music is great, quite haunting come to think of it. The court room scenes are consistently superb, thanks to the performance of Sam Waterson as McCoy, who brings vitality and sincerity to the role. The series is quite gritty, perhaps because of the dark and brooding camera work that makes it visually good to look at. As for the performances, they are of high calibre, and I admit I think the show's golden years were with Briscoe and Green. Maybe I'm biased, but the late great Jerry Orbach was the perfect choice for Lennie Briscoe, a man who wants justice, and takes his job seriously. Orbach was a truly talented actor, and it is Briscoe as well as Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast that I remember him chiefly by. Jesse L. Martin excels also as Green, and the two men have an undeniable bond that made the show such compulsive viewing. Don't get me wrong, I liked Fontana as well, but there was something about Briscoe and Green that made me like them more. Dianne West and Angie Harmon are solid too. All in all, exceptional legal drama series. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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It completely sucks you in!
walsh-2218 April 2007
I can't believe that Law and Order started in 1991 and has 17 seasons under its belt. It never seems dated to me and always has unique stories, I don't think the show has ever repeated a story and I think what also helps the series is that it doesn't have the same characters from the start, actors have left the show and been replaced. The programme has the sense of no one person being the star and it they leave, the show will go on. We've had Jill Hennessey, Chris Noth,Angie Harmon and Benjamin Bratt. They helped to make the show what it is.

I have to say one of my favourite characters was Lennie Briscoe who was played by Jerry Orbach. I just liked his style, he had made mistakes in the past but he had overcome them, he is cynical and has been around the block a few times, the one liners he had at times was a stroke of genius. I just thought Jerry Orbach did a very good job of portraying him, he didn't always depict him as a tough guy, the audience could sometimes see a soft side to him.

What I think the writers have a talent for is being inspired by real life cases that are shown on television and they have turned them into something totally different, there are times when I watch it and I remember hearing about the case but I find myself surprised at how the plot has gone in a completely different direction that I didn't predict.

Another positive to the show is that you get 2 for the price of one. Meaning the programme doesn't just focus on police investigating the crime scene or lawyers prosecuting the cases, you get to see how the two sides work in their own ways to convict the guilty and you see how both sides have problems in their investigations and use their police knowledge or the law to trap the guilty people.

The actors and writing just make this programme a joy to watch and it is never predictable and has many twists and turns which adds to the edge of the seat tension and you get caught up in a piece of fiction, hoping that the person who has committed the crime won't get away with it.
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predictable, specious, unbelievable
spodvoll17 April 2004
The show has degenerated to the same, dumb plot line for every episode. Case in point; almost each and every episode now features defendants testifying on their own behalf. Defense attorneys almost never allow their clients to testify, knowing that they're vulnerable to prosecutorial, cross-examination trip-ups. Of course, the fictional Assistant District Attorneys invariably take full advantage of the Dumb and repetitive. Either New York City is full of incompetent Defense Attorneys, who all put their own clients on the stand, or the Law & Order writing staff ran out of ideas sometime circa 1993. That's just one example of many that could be cited for this once-good, now predictable and specious show. I can only wonder if some lone, talented writer departed towards the end of the Michael Moriarty era.
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