Monday, March 24, 2008

The Memorable, Dry Wit of Adam Schiff


My husband and I were watching an old episode of Law & Order over the weekend. It was called “The Secret Sharers” and it was a first season episode with Detectives Max Greevey (George Dzundza), Mike Logan (Chris Noth), Cpt. Don Cragen (Dann Florek), and in the DA’s office, Paul Robinette (Richard Brooks), Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty), and Adam Schiff (Steven Hill). I wish TNT would air some of these older episodes because the themes or stories hold up very well, and the cast was great. The writing was also top-notch.

But the one thing that I really miss about these older episodes is the presence of Adam Schiff as District Attorney. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) is sitting in the big chair now. I find myself wishing, though, that we hadn’t had to endure a few years of Nora Lewin (Dianne Wiest) or Arthur Branch (Fred Dalton Thompson).

In this particular episode I was watching, I was treated to an appearance of Shambala Green (Lorraine Toussaint), who was probably the best opponent that Ben Stone ever had. While Ben Stone is discussing the case with Schiff, Adam seems to compliment Shambala’s talents with the following line, which I found absolutely hysterical: "A girl raped, a sister on trial for murder, Shambala Green with a jury--she'll milk 'em till they moo."

That has to be one of the funniest lines I’ve even heard uttered (maybe I should say “uddered”) on Law & Order. It got me to look back and some of Adam Schiff's best lines over his many years on the show. I thought I’d assemble some of them here for you to also enjoy.

The Memorable Lines of Adam Schiff

The Violence of Summer
"I don't photograph well with egg on my face."

The Secret Sharers
"A girl raped, a sister on trial for murder, Shambala Green with a jury--she'll milk 'em till they moo."

Wages of Love
"Pride goeth before a fall. I'll send you flowers in the intensive care unit."

Renunciation
"Bring your crying towels, boys."

Intolerance
"Right now, you wouldn't get a conviction for bad thoughts."

Skin Deep
"Stuff envelopes for the county leader, you too can ascend the bench."

Wedded Bliss
"I woke up this morning--I thought it was the twentieth century!"

Prince of Darkness
"I'm not up on my Catholic theology. Is self-righteousness a mortal or venial sin?"

Point of View
"Yep, you've got snap, crackle, but no pop."

Consultation
"It's the Supreme Court of the State of New York, not the Romper Room."

"You have an accomplice--that'll get you into the theater, but won't let you see the show."

Mother Love
"We live in a two choice world--one or the other."

Jurisdiction
"Unless you want a real fight on your hands, stay out of camera range."

Virus
"The crying towels are down the hall."

"With a leap like that, they'll put you in a Nike commercial."

Manhood
"O'Hara's a well-liked cop. He's been decorated more times than my living room."

"Yeah, congratulations. You have flour and water, get an oven, you can make bread."

Benevolence
"You'll need more than open, sesame to get her to talk."

Apocrypha
"I know how to scramble eggs, doesn't mean I made breakfast."

The Pursuit of Happiness
"Quick! Lock the door! Someone might walk in with a case we can win."

"I wouldn't count your chickens: your omelet just hit the fan."

Snatched
"It wouldn't be the first time that you give the grand jury a dog and pony show without the pony."

Kids
"She gets overturned anymore, she'll be walking upside down."

Wager
"Dismissed? What have you been sprinkling on your breakfast cereal?"

Old Friends
"Never ask a jury to think."

Coma
"Well, I understand you've been promoted from assistant district attorney to supreme deity."

Blue Bamboo
"This defense! Like my grandmother's nightgown, it covers everything."

Precious
Jack: "If those were my children, I'd want that woman in prison."
Adam: "With a 15 percent chance she's innocent? I wouldn't tell that to the next Mrs. McCoy."

"You're riding your motorcycle without a helmet."

House Counsel
Schiff: "What is this, Bernie's Bargain Basement? Cop to four murders and get only five years?"
McCoy: "When I made the deal, I had no idea..."
Schiff: "That's because your ego was rushing from your head downstream to somewhere south of the border!"

Guardian
"Don't jump the canyon on your motorcycle."

Progeny
"Is there anyone in town who is not using this office for their own personal agenda?"

Rage
"Without motive, you couldn't convince a jury water's wet."

[to Claire]: "No one's being condescending here, young lady."

Performance
Jack: "...I think I can win."
Adam: "That's great. You get an A for self-esteem."

"So you've got something legal and inadmissible that you're trying to get in the back door twice. [pause] I like it."

"Oh, The Constitution--that pesky thing."

Wannabe
Claire: "The school circled the limos to keep the Barclay name out of it."
Adam: "I'm shocked."
Jack: "This isn't stink bombs in the boys room, Adam! They hindered prosecution of an A felony!"
Adam: "Now I'm very shocked."

Jeopardy
"You climbed Everest in your shorts on a cold day."

Remand
Jack: "Didn't you tell me you never make this job personal?"
Adam: "I lied...second time in thirty years."

Atonement
Adam: "A story for Sophocles."
Jack: "Or Larry, Curly, and Moe."
Adam: "Yeah, I always loved those guys."

Pro Se
Jack: "Then why didn't he plead insanity?"
Adam: "Because he's insane?"

Good Girl
"Four days of deliberation, what are they doing, electing a pope?"

Menace
"Throw the book at him. When the grand jury throws it back, don't get hit in the head."

Showtime
"You better bring something besides your boyish charm."

Schiff: "Started with a murder, ends with an execution. You got what you wanted. Take the rest of the week off."
McCoy: "It's Friday, Adam."
Schiff: "So it is. See you on Monday."

Double Down
"He confessed to a murder to avoid being prosecuted for a murder. I'm putting this one in my memoirs."

Blood
[Jack, Jamie, and Adam are discussing the case over lunch. Jamie's info hurts their case.] "Why do you always give me bad news while I'm digesting?"

Disappeared
"This office doesn't play patty-cake with serial killers."

Hate
Jack: "If I thought we could stop hate with one prosecution or one law, I'd be a fool."
Adam: "Yeah, but you'd be my kind of fool."

Justice
(to Jack): "Lit your own petard, my boy."

Black, White, and Blue
"Last time an Albany jury convicted a cop, I had a full head of black hair."

Stiff
"It's cases like this that make me take a long hard look at my pension plan."

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10 comments:

samfan said...

These are great! I forgot some of them, but it makes me miss some of the old episodes with him and Jack. Great post.

Anonymous said...

These are great! One of my favorites is during the Jamie Ross era. Jamie says something about one of the suspects "Randal the Candle" and Schiff pipes in with who helped him Mack the Knife? Priceless. Adam reigned supreme.

Matty said...

I you on that episode. It is one f my favorite L & O 's ever. Now that I have found this blog, I have a feeling I may spend way too much time online. This is great!

Terri said...

So good to see someone recognizing the talent of Steven Hill as DA Schiff. He is my second favourite character from LAW & ORDER.(Ben Stone is still my favourite!) The dry wit of Schiff is so appealing, and Hill delivered the lines so well. I wish some network would go back to the beginning again!

JAMMQ said...

Great job with these. Schiff always had the best lines.

He always closed every episode strong.

Anonymous said...

- Breeder
Claire: You should have seen her. The girl's inhuman.
Schiff: Unfortunately, inhumanity is not against the law.

Ah, the witty old days of the early years of Law and Order.

Sara said...

I can't remember exactly what episode it was from, but the following exchange is one of my favourites:

Ben: Are you speaking from personal experience?
Adam: I'm a sweetheart. And I'm middle-aged.

The DA's office was never quite the same without Adam.

Jan Vance said...

I've often thought of starting a Twitter account in Adam's name to post his great lines. Nice to see other people getting a kick out of him like I do.

Steve Clark said...

I like Adam's line about the mom who taught her son to rip people off with her - "Could've been worse - she could've had twins". Seeing the twin boys on The Following reminded me of that.

simibaby said...

I love Steven Hill as Adam. Steven was an early member of the Actor's Studio in the early 1940's. He and Brando were
together. In fact everyone felt that Steven was more dynamic/talented. God bless the man and thanx for the quotes and this site!