Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Law & Order SVU – Has it bottomed out?

There’s something wrong with Law & Order SVU this season. Did the writers go on strike early and not tell anyone? Has the show turned into a soap opera while no one was looking? Did someone open a Pandora’s box of the personal lives of the characters and now we’re being overloaded with too much information? These are only a few of the burning questions.

Not to forget the questionable addition of Chester (Adam Beach), who seems to know everything there is to know about EVERYTHING, and has super special instincts. Beach’s wooden acting puts Elisabeth Rohm (Serena, Law & Order) to shame. About the same time Chester makes his appearance, the gradual virtual disappearance of Detective John Munch (Richard Belzer) begins. The entire chemistry of the team seems to be thrown into a tizzy.

Last week, Casey Novak (Diane Neal) seemed to be working for the defense, helping the defense attorney in just about every way she could. She got a much-needed butt kicking from new District Attorney Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston). That in itself was another mystery. The big event that all Jack McCoy fans have been waiting for, and it doesn’t happen on the original series – AND the network never promoted the event.

This season, we’ve been bombard with personal information and story lines about many of the characters. Stabler’s wife is pregnant, Stabler (Chris Meloni) “goes blind” (well not really and not for long), and the preview for next week – “the car crash.” (I won’t say any more so as not to spoil you.) We hear all kinds of things about newbie Chester, including that he was brought up in the foster care system. We are finally hearing less about Olivia’s parentage and issues as a child, do we now have to start with Chester? This show is clearly moving outside the L&O formula that says we should get as little information about the characters’ personal lives as possible.

And dumb mistakes and questionable judgment abounds. Case in point, and episode from two week ago titled “Svengali”. In it were several gems:

1. Requiring the tech team (TARU) to process a crime scene photo through an image recongition program to identify it as the Venus De Milo, one of the most recognizable sculptures in art;

2. After a threat was made on her life, Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) gets a pizza delivery she did not order, no one questions it and no one actually opens it to see that there’s a pizza in there. Of course it’s a bomb and it explodes when a hungry Chester throws it on his desk.

3. Again, there is still a threat on Olivia’s life, the station had been bombed, yet Olivia goes home without a protective detail. She has to twist a loosened sconce light in her outside hallway before she unlocks her door. Of course someone is waiting in her apartment to attack her.

I could go on, but it’s too painful.

Law & Order SVU used to be a gritty crime show about subjects most people don’t talk about. The detectives had their issues, but they didn’t over dramatize them and continue to fling them in our faces. The show featured an ensemble cast, which had great chemistry. It now seems to have all but disappeared in favor of episodes showcasing individual characters. It’s as if the show has reduced itself to begging for Emmys.

Of course being a faithful fan of all things Law & Order, I will continue to watch. But even Law & Order junkies have their limits. I may be reaching mine with SVU.

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4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on this. SVU has lost its way. It has been in this sorry state now for about 3 years, starting when Mariska became pregnant. It's like they (Mariska and Chris specifically) believe that they are the **it. The show was hitting great strides though during Marika's maternity leave. Connie Nielsen brought was a fantastic presense during her few weeks with the show. And her acting was so unaffected. Adam Beach bring squadoosh to the show. They've gone and reduced Munch's time on the show. Technically, he was the only reason I started watching the show. I had been a great fan of his from his days on Homicide. I don't see this show getting any better.

By the way...great blog. I'm JMF fan from Monapoohleeza.

All Things Law & Order said...

I forgot about Connie Nielsen! She was great and brought a new dynamic to the show.

Thanks for stopping by!

Law and Order fan said...

Anonymous/JMF it couldn't have started with Mariska's pregnancy if it's been in this state for about 3 years now, her kid isn't even 2 years old yet but I do agree that the show is in a sorry state and I barely even watch it now.

nygma619 said...

"1. Requiring the tech team (TARU) to process a crime scene photo through an image recongition program to identify it as the Venus De Milo, one of the most recognizable sculptures in art;:"

Um, maybe they're not exactly art entrepreneurs, and they didn't know the crime was related to art work until AFTER they made that discovery.

"2. After a threat was made on her life, Olivia (Mariska Hargitay) gets a pizza delivery she did not order, no one questions it and no one actually opens it to see that there’s a pizza in there. Of course it’s a bomb and it explodes when a hungry Chester throws it on his desk."

Okay, THAT one I'll give you but only THAT one.

"3. Again, there is still a threat on Olivia’s life, the station had been bombed, yet Olivia goes home without a protective detail. She has to twist a loosened sconce light in her outside hallway before she unlocks her door. Of course someone is waiting in her apartment to attack her."

We've seen Olivia turn down help in watching her back before when she was in danger(Wrath anyone), why do you or anyone else need to be constantly reminded of that? Is there some law that forbids people from thinking for themselves instead of having everything spelled out for them? And I'd love to hear about the other gems.

Me, I actually liked Svengali, aside from the bomb scene (and also the bomb wasn't lethal enough to kill someone) & maybe the coincidence of the bar tender being the perp; it's one of my favorites from season 9.
Also is there some law saying that the L & O formula on personal lives HAS TO apply to ALL of the law and order shows? Not that the emotional stuff in large doses doesn't get on my nerves, but I wouldn't want to dismiss it altogether. Some of it, has established SVU as show that isn't just L & O with a different coat of paint.

On another note, I didn't know there were people that actually liked Connie Nielsen's time as Dani on the show, besides me. I always thought maybe SHE should've been the one in Adam Beach's place in season 9.