Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Law & Order": At Least We'll Have Repeats

The "original" Law & Order is being canceled by NBC. This is the hour-long cops and lawyers television show which takes place in New York City. The first half-hour focuses on the cops chasing the bad guys (the crime is almost always murder), and the second half-hour focuses on the prosecutors who try to put them behind bars. The show has been on the air for twenty years, a feat of endurance that has given it the nickname "the mother ship" for those in the television business.

I'll miss Law & Order, but I wasn't a regular viewer of the current show (featuring Jeremy Sisto and Linus Roache). I primarily watch Law & Order on syndication (TNT), where I root for episodes with Benjamin Bratt and Jerry Orbach.

Part of the joy of watching repeats is the comfortable familiarity. In the first minute of a Law & Order repeat, my wife and I will see who can identify the episode the fastest. In a show with over 400 episodes, we are frequently stumped. However, even when we know who the perpetrator is, it's still entertaining watching the cops finally grabbing them, and the prosecutors (almost always Sam Waterston, who plays ADA Jack McCoy) finally "nailing" them.

Since the show has run for so long, the list of supporting cast is very long. If you pull up IMDb's "full credits" page for Law & Order, be prepared to spend lots of time scrolling! And because of its longevity, the repeats often feature a star or two (notable to me: Edie Falco, who went on to play Carmella Soprano on "The Sopranos"; Sam Rockwell, who recently starred in Moon; Laura Linney, who was in "Mystic River"; and Denis O'Hare, who had that great opening scene in "Michael Clayton").

It's replacement? Law & Order: Los Angeles. I love LA, but it's not New York City. New York's neighborhoods are more dense, and closer together. For the LA series, I would think that the cops will spend more time driving to get to the scene of the crime (Los Angeles is over 490 square miles). I also have this suspicion that the LA version will feature more car and helicopter chases, at which point I may as well be watching "Cops".

That said, one of my favorite L & O episodes is a three-part show (Season 7, Episodes 15, 16, 17) in which the cops and prosecutors have to cross the country to nab a suspect in Los Angeles. Hollywood lawyers versus New York lawyers (with Carey Lowell playing Jack's assistant district attorney). The cops are gleeful fish out of water: Jerry Orbach hitting golf balls, and Bratt's character getting hit on by an attractive movie producer, played by Lauren Graham.

Is it too soon to ask the screenwriters to create the "Los Angeles cops visit New York City" episode?