Thursday, January 31, 2008

Law & Order “Political Animal”: Big Red Herring, Yet Still Hooks This Viewer

It’s going to sound like I didn't like this episode, but I really did. Just bear with me.

The NBC promo people – and the Law & Order writers – have gone all out this time, by highlighting a scene or possible suspect that really had nothing to do with the case. The whole “Larry Craig inspired” scenario was played up big on the previews for the show, yet really the whole gay cruising angle really had no bearing on the case. I can’t stand it when they waste so much time on a red herring. Was that a veiled political statement when Anita (S. Epatha Merkerson) just threw the whole arrest report for “The MVP” in the trash and Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) says, “So basically, we just played "smear the queer" with an innocent man?” This show was full of political statements that were a little too obvious.

Of course, we got to see a few political candidates parodied in this episode. You know they are going to have very obvious imitations of real life people in an episode when it begins with the whole disclaimer that the story is “fictional” and doesn’t represent any real person or event. They really took the biggest shot at Hillary Clinton, with the completely low blow of referencing that people think that she had Vince Foster killed over Whitewater. I get so tired of shows dredging up things like this that really don’t add anything to the story except to take a shot at a real person, especially when that person is running for political office.

Of course, Jayne Atkinson (as Melanie Carver) pulled off the Hillary character very well. Law & Order fans will know Jayne as a “repeat offender” in the Law & Order Universe, appearing on two previous Law & Orders as two other characters, plus a stint on SVU as another character.

This episode delivered some witty lines. Van Buren starts off with the detectives, when she says, "Unless you wanna slip into something sexy and buy the guy a drink, you need to start arguing over who goes on stall duty." I was amused when Lupo – AKA “Lupes” – wins the toss. Of course, Green (Jesse Martin) gets the comeback later, saying "Hey! Gilles' [John Doman] friend confirms his alibi, and he wants to know when he can meet Lupes in the bathroom." Were they also making a statement by calling the department store where there was “cruising” going on in the bathroom “Hellman’s” as if that’s where all those men would be going? Very strange, I thought.

McCoy (Sam Waterston) had a few gems. I found it very ponderous when he said “They call it free speech, but apparently it’s very expensive.” Later on, Jack is in a restaurant with Melanie Carver (Atkinson). To me, it was a questionable meeting for Jack to undertake. Has McCoy suddenly been struck dumb and not think that this meeting could later be used against him – or her, especially while she seems to have some involvement in an on-going case? I found this to be out of character for Jack. During this meeting, they have a discussion where she asks Jack, “Have you ever heard of New Yorkers for Good Government?…They want you to run for a full term in the next election…They admire you because you're not a politician." Jack responds, "So they want me to become one. Ironic, isn't it?"

Cutter (Linus Roache) and Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) had a very even and balanced performances. Both seem very natural and believable in their roles, and Cutter is finally seeming much more confidant.

A scene that seemed hard to believe was when Vargas (John Ortiz) was in the DA’s building bathroom, and Carver steps out of the stall. (A lot of things going on in the bathrooms in the Law & Order Universe.) I mean really, this man was supposed to be so crafty yet he wouldn’t have smelled a set up and that Carver was wired? Anyone with half a brain would have run in the other direction. When Carver was discussing the subsequent recording with Jack at the end of the show, and left him hanging about whether there was more to the tape, it left me wondering. Is someone who is wired able to just stop the tape? Why wasn’t she wired with a transmitter so someone else could capture the recording? I found that odd.

Even though I picked apart this episode, I did like it. Why? Because the characters really seemed to work together well. Everybody seemed comfortable in their roles. It made me feel like I was watching an older episode where I was a fly on the wall watching real cases, not watching actors reading lines. So for that, I give this extra points. And that is no red herring.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Law & Order SVU “Harm” is Harmful to Watch

The episode “Harm” originally aired on October 23, 2007. I recall watching it and really disliking it, but despite my memory, I watched it again.

What a mistake.

This episode was probably one of the worst episodes of SVU ever. Even after watching it a second time, I still have not been able to find out who murdered the very first victim, the woman who was stabbed and left to bleed to death. If anyone can enlighten me on if that murder was resolved, I’d appreciate it. Either way, they seemed to drop what appeared to be a true “special victims” case, and move on to a second death of a man that appeared to be a victim of torture. In fact, I am not sure SVU should have even handled his case.

Along the way, we get preached at about torture and we get to sit in while torture victims recount how they experienced torture, etc. Yes, we know. Torture.Is.Bad. I don’t like people being tortured either, but I also understand that not all issues relating to torture are black and white. This was one episode of SVU that I could have done without the heavy handed, propaganda-like treatment of a subject. It really added nothing to the story except to insult the intelligence of the viewer.

The only gem was Munch (Richard Belzer) commenting that, much to his “Orwellian delight” he was able to get security camera footage. Later, Stabler (Chris Meloni) comments, while watching more surveillance footage from another source, “Security cameras across the globe. Munch will never leave the house again.”

So if you haven’t watched “Harm”, I say don’t harm yourself and skip it.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Law & Order Criminal Intent Theme – Which Do You Prefer?

This has been bugging me since Law & Order Criminal Intent started up on USA Network this season.

It’s the theme song.

Call me old fashioned, but I liked the original hard-rocking edgy theme of the earlier seasons. And this season’s “new” theme really isn’t new at all; it’s the theme from the short-lived Law & Order Trial by Jury. This “new” theme sounds a little too bombastic for me.

I have all three embedded below. Take a listen, and either comment or vote in the poll on which theme you prefer. (The poll is located on the right side column of this blog. You may have to scroll down to find it.) Don't concern yourself with who is in the clip - it's not about whether your a Goren (D'Onofrio) fan or Logan (Noth) fan. (NOTE: The poll has ended and has been removed from my blog. Of 45 voters, 66% preferred the original theme, 24% preferred the new theme, the rest liked neither - and both! Please feel free to comment if you have a strong preference.)

By the way, I like the title cards much better in this season. Even though some of the pictures are the same, they’ve added a bit of a three-dimensional quality to them.

Original Theme

“New Theme” – which is the old Trial By Jury Theme

Don’t believe me? Here’s the Trial by Jury’s Theme

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Law & Order: Episode Summaries for the Week of January 27, 2008

NBC serves up a new episode of Law & Order this week, with current season reruns of SVU and Criminal Intent. Based on the preview of "Politcial Animal," will we see some RFTH ("ripped from the headlines") fancy footwork in the rest room?

Law & Order SVU: Episode 09-05, “Harm” Re-Airs January 29, 2008

Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Chris Meloni) investigate the connection between the New York murder of college counselor and her volunteer work at a refugee center working with soldiers tortured in Iraq.

Law & Order Criminal Intent, Episode 07-10, “Senseless” Re-Airs January 30,2008
Logan (Chris Noth) and Falacci(Alicia Witt) investigated the execution-style shooting of three college freshmen. When the utter senselessness of the crime hit Logan, he vowed to apprehend the killers and bring them to justice. At a loss as to identifying any motive for the shooting, the detectives relied on the testimony of one of the surviving victims in order to break the case

Law & Order, Episode 18-06, “Political Animal” Airs January 30 2008
A TRIPLE HOMICIDE THOUGHT TO BE A LOVERS’ QUARREL TURNS OUT TO BE THE WORK OF A CAREER CON ARTIST. When three roommates are found dead in their apartment Detectives Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin) and Cyrus Lupo’s (Jeremy Sisto) initial examination of the crime scene suggests a murder-suicide amongst jealous lovers. This notion is quickly dismissed when the detectives discover one of the victims, Todd Stewart (guest star Jonathan Sale) an environmental attorney, had a closeted relationship with a prominent political figure. After the politician’s fingerprints don’t match the prints on the murder weapon the investigation shifts focus to Victor Vargas, a political fundraiser who gave the detectives their first lead. When Vargas’ address turns out to be bogus and then a little background research uncovers a past of illegal activities including fraud, the detectives realize they’ve got their guy. But no one is prepared for the lengths to which Vargas will go and who among his political allies he will turn on to keep his freedom. Also starring: Sam Waterston, S. Epatha Merkerson, Linus Roache and Alana De La Garza.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

S. Epatha Merkerson Scheduled for "The View"

(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Epatha and Sam at premier of Come Back Little Sheba

Law & Order’s S. Epatha Merkerson (Lt. Anita Van Buren) is scheduled to be on The View on Tuesday, January 29, 2008. She was a guest co-host of The View in March of 2007 and was quite entertaining and spontaneous.

Also, don’t forget that Epatha is starring in the revival of “Come Back Little Sheba” on Broadway. Some reviews and show information can be found on my other blog, "These Are Their Stories”, here.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Law & Order “Driven” Drives Home a Great Episode

I wish that the season had started with this episode, because there were so many things I liked about it.

This episode discarded the annoying the personal references, which were at the forefront in earlier episodes this season. Instead, they focused on the crime and the law, which is what makes Law & Order a powerful series. They kept everything very simple and didn’t make the investigation or the law overly complex. The story itself hit on several points: bullies, racism, the “no-snitch” culture, and overbearing parents.

Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) seems very comfortable in his new role as District Attorney. At first, when he was asked by Cutter (Linus Roache), Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza), and Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson) to help further the investigation by getting involved in helping protect a neighborhood church from the developers, he balked. Cutter didn’t help matters much when he made a reference that arm twisting was something previous DA Adam Schiff could do with his eyes closed. The first thing I thought - Cutter had to be a kid when Schiff held the spot, how would he know what Adam would do? But, I also saw Jack have a "eureka" moment of realization that now he had some clout that he could use to further his cases.

McCoy also seems to have found an inner peace and a more controlled and restrained, yet more powerful, temperament. For example, when Cutter and Rubirosa were talking to the neighborhood man in Cutter’s office, Jack comes in and says: “What is it going to take this time? You want me to move a lamp post or name a park after your favorite nephew?” That was Jack clearly drawing the line in how much wheeling and dealing he’ll do for a case. And later, we see Jack sitting outside on a park bench, looking serene and a little bit like the fictional Yoda willing to impart words of wisdom to Anita. And we got another McCoy smile. Yes, I think Jack is thinking, “It’s good to be the king.”

Linus Roache also seemed very comfortable in this episode, and delivered a strong closing argument. But I am wondering – is Cutter’s office Jack’s old office redone, or is it Ben Stone’s old office? I watch the old Ben Stone episodes when they show them on TNT (usually in the wee hours), and the office looks a lot like Ben’s. I haven’t seen a room number on Cutter's door so it’s hard to tell. Along the same line, did they reverse the side for the seating area for the jury? I felt like I was dropped in to some parallel Law & Order universe.

Backtracking to the first half of the show, this is the first episode where I felt that Green (Jesse Martin) and Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) gelled. Sisto still seems a little subdued and quiet and sometimes hard to hear, but he seemed to fit in very well with the group. I also like that they have increased Anita’s presence and involvement with the cases. Epatha is a great actress and the show has ignored her talents for years. I hope they keep up her visibility.

As far as the outcome of the case, I found it interesting that both parties were found not guilty in the killing of the boy. I would assume that it was because he was also a part of instigating the situation that caused his own death? But I agree that both parties on trial deserved to be punished for the death of the little girl, a true innocent in the whole situation.

I hope that future episodes will have the same quality as “Driven.” It was probably one of the best episodes I’ve seen in a long time, and the cast solidified. Everyone seemed at the top of their game. Maybe that’s why Jack is smiling so much?

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

SVU’s ”Inconceivable” is Conceivably the Best So Far

“Inconceivable” had the feeling of previous season’s SVU episodes, with good use of Munch and Fin, little use of Lake, realistic dialog with Benson and Stabler, and a decent story.

If you can look past all the editorial commentary, the case itself had very believable twists and turns. Even though it was obvious that somebody from the Value Defense League was going to get killed somewhere along the line, it was still an interesting twist that it was not the obvious unhappy woman who had cancer whose embryos were destroyed. But, one point of concern: the New York Court House steps must be the deadliest place in New York City. How many people in the Law & Order universe have been shot on those steps? I recall even Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) having a close call a few years back. Maybe they need to put metal detectors out on the street, or more police. Remind me to wear a bulletproof vest if I even visit there.

What I enjoyed most about this episode was the dry, dark humor of John Munch (Richard Belzer). Absolutely hysterical was his artist rendering of the victims – the embryos. And finally we get some reference to why we are seeing less Munch and more Lake (Adam Beach):

Fin (Ice-T): “Since when did you become super tech?”
Munch: “Since you dumped me for Lake. Bessie (?) here is the only one who will have me as a partner.”
Fin: “I think you like her better.”

Still not an explanation, but at least acknowledges that the fans deserved some reference to the change.

Stabler’s (Chris Meloni) opening up the discussion with Olivia about having kids was only a plot device to being out Benson’s (Mariska Hargitay) "big secret" touted in the preview the week before. So the big secret is she tried to adopt and was turned down? How anticlimactic. I expected something, well, bigger, and a little shocking. This secret was neither.

The editorial commentary was pretty heavy handed here. Are frozen embryos people? Should you stunt the growth of a disabled child to make them easier to handle? Should a mother gestate an embryo for her child? Is it right to screen embryos for good or bad traits and destroy the ones that are bad? As in the case of the dwarf (played by Meredith Eaton), who gets to decide what is a bad trait? Should women over 40 have babies? Are deaths of military in Iraq ignored by the press? Etc. There may have been a little too much thrown into the mix here, but I suspect considering the topic of the story, it was probably hard to avoid.

I didn’t catch a preview of next week’s episode, so I suspect this may be the last new one we’ll see in a while. If this is the case, at least they left us with a good one.

By the way, happy 44th birthday to Mariska Hargitay!

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These Are Their Stories.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sam Waterston and The Lincoln Bicentennial

Legal tender in the Law & Order Universe

The Louisville Kentucky Courier-Journal reports that Sam Waterston will be appearing as Abraham Lincoln in an event kicking off a two-year national Lincoln bicentennial. Sam has played Lincoln many times in various productions for stage and screen: “The Civil War", "Gore Vidal's Lincoln", and “Abe Lincoln in Illinois” on Broadway. He voiced Lincoln in an exhibit at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and delivered Lincoln's Cooper Union speech May 5, 2004. He is also on the Advisory Committee for the Lincoln Bicentennial.

The Courier-Journal says, “The inaugural event happens on Feb. 12 when President Bush has been invited to deliver the keynote address at a ceremony at Lincoln's birthplace in Hodgenville. A day earlier, Louisville will be host to a gala at the Kentucky Center, with music, displays and an appearance by TV actor Sam Waterston as Lincoln.

For your enjoyment, here’s a video with Sam Waterston as he discusses Lincoln. This YouTube clip has been authorized by ML Films (Michael Lawrence Films).

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These Are Their Stories.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chris Noth and Tara Wilson – It’s A Boy!

People Magazine has announced that Chris Noth, currently on Law & Order Criminal Intent, and his long time girlfriend Tara Wilson, are now the proud parents of a baby boy.

People reports: “Orion Christopher Noth was born in Los Angeles on Friday, and weighed 7 lbs., 10 oz.”

With a nebulous name like that, this baby will likely become a star. (Pun intended.)


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Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Law & Order: New Episode Summaries for the Week of January 20, 2008

This week, we have new episodes for Law & Order and Law & Order SVU. There is no new Law & Order Criminal Intent on USA this week. NBC is re-airing an episode first run on USA on November 15, 2007.

There may have been a change in the order of the Law & Order episodes. Next up was supposed to be episode 18-05, “Illegal”, but the TV Guide is showing the episode as 18-09, “Driven.”

Here they are:

Law & Order SVU: Episode 09-14, “Inconceivable”, Airs January 22, 2008
WHEN FERTILIZED EMBRYOS GO MISSING FROM A SPERM BANK, THE DETECTIVES MUST INVESTIGATE THE GROWING LIST OF SUSPECTS BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT. The robbery of fertilized embryos from a sperm bank call for Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) to track down the thief. Clues from the clinic’s security tape lead Benson and Stabler to a long list of suspects including James and Victoria Grall (guest stars Mark Moses and Janine Turner), two publicity-hungry extremists. The detectives race against the clock to find the missing embryos, but that isn’t the only clock that’s ticking - Olivia considers her own fertility and the possibility of motherhood. Also starring: Adam Beach, Dann Florek, Ice-T, Diane Neal, Richard Belzer, and Tamara Tunie.

Law & Order, Episode 18-05, “Driven” Airs January 23, 2008
A TEENAGER AND YOUNG GIRL ARE FOUND DEAD NEAR A NEIGHBORHOOD PLAYGROUND AROUSING RACIALLY CHARGED ISSUES IN THE COMMUNITY: ALLY WALKER GUEST STARS - When a Caucasian teenage boy and young African American girl are found dead near a neighborhood playground, Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin) have trouble getting witnesses to talk after realizing the boy was targeted and the girl was killed accidentally. Two brothers and friends of the murdered boy, Andy (guest star Jeremy Allen White) and Josh Steel (guest star Miles Chandler), lead the detectives to a local kid Will Manning (guest star Tristan Wilds). Ultimately, it’s Will’s father Ray Manning (guest star Kevin Carroll) who admits to being the shooter. Ray’s defense is that he feared for his son’s life when he saw three boys chasing Will with baseball bats. This new information leads the detectives to suspect the Steel brothers and their overly aggressive mother, Gretchen (guest star Ally Walker). With racial tensions high in the community, the DA’s office must decide how to charge and prosecute the case. Also starring: Sam Waterston, S. Epatha Merkerson, Linus Roache, and Alana De La Garza.

Law & Order Criminal Intent, Episode , “Self-Made ”, Re-Airs January 23,2008
A writer is found tortured and murdered, and clues lead Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Eames (Kathryn Erbe) to suspects in her lavish literary circle and the gritty urban society she called her roots.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jesse L. Martin

Jesse L. Martin, who plays Detective Ed Green on Law & Order, is celebrating his birthday today. He was born on January 18, 1969 as Jesse Lamont Watkins, in Rocky Mount, Virginia, and took his current surname of Martin from his mother’s second husband.

Jesse attended grade school in Buffalo, NY, and during that time, a teacher cast him as a pastor in a play. Jesse was a success in the role, and was bitten by the acting bug.While at high school - the The Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts - he was voted "Most Talented" in his senior class. He also attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Theater Program, and later toured with John Houseman's The Acting Company.

Jesse has a long list of credits. Besides his stint on Law & Order, he has also appeared in the movie “Rent”, and TV shows Ali McBeal and The X-Files. He also appeared in the original Broadway version of “Rent.” Jesse is slated for the movie production of “Sexual Healing,” playing the role of singer Marvin Gaye.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Law & Order “Bottomless” Rises from the Depths

Last night’s Law & Order episode, “Bottomless”, was much better than the earlier installments of the season. It may be guilty of throwing in too many “ripped from the headlines (RFTH)” twists and stereotypical themes.

The story begins with a RFTH story about a man suing a dry cleaner over a lost pair of pants. The story progresses to murder (not having anything really to do with the man suing about the pants), then twists to a RFTH story about the big bad discount chain (one stereotype) who diverts impure, possibly toxic, toothpaste that was imported from the corner-cutting Chinese (another stereotype), both complicit in their desire to save a penny. Mix in an employee who covers his transgressions with murder. Intermingled in the story is the stereotypical ex-law enforcement person who goes bad in order to protect his own – or his employer’s – interests.

I have to admit that I was saddened – again - to see Lupo’s (Jeremy Sisto) sister-in-law. Ed (Jesse Martin) seems to be getting so sappy about it, to the point that it seems a little out of character for him. I am still not sure that they are writing the character of Ed quite right this season. He seems to have lost his edge. The sister-in-law, who I refuse to legitimize by mentioning her name, needs to disappear from the Law & Order universe ASAP. Jeremy Sisto – although looking a little pale and pasty in this episode – seems to have lightened up in the demeanor category and his character actually did not annoy me this episode. I still wish he’s speak up a bit, though, And it is very nice to see Anita (S. Epatha Merkerson) getting more involved in the story. I think Epatha has been too underused in previous seasons, and I hope they continue to give her the exposure as this did in this episode. How predictable was it that the pants brought in by Anita's ex-boss would be thrown out and not be allowed to be used as evidence?

The case unravels for the defendant when the DA’s office – Cutter (Linus Roache), Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) – dig deeper into the problem and really uncover a mess.

It’s great to see that they are still giving Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) a lot of direct involvement in cases. It’s clear that they will need to do this until Roache is able to fully establish his role of Cutter. One thing that’s different: I don’t think I have ever seen Jack smile so much. It seems a little out of character, but in his case it’s a nice improvement.

Clearly Connie Rubirosa is the brains behind Cutter. The character has really grown into a probably one of the smartest, cagiest ADAs that we’ve seen since Abbie Carmichael (Angie Harmon). I think once Cutter takes off the training wheels, he and Connie will be a powerhouse.

The ending said it all: Jack appearing ruffled that Cutter messed up his deal, and Cutter not really concerned about it. Jack’s smile told it all – Cutter is starting to get it.

One minor annoyance – I still think the camera work is much shakier this season. I never liked shaky-cam for any show because it gives me headaches. So I wish they’d settle it down a bit.

Bottom line: this episode, despite too much RFTH, and too many stereotypes, was actually entertaining and kept my interest. Maybe there is hope for this season after all.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Law & Order SVU: “Unorthodox” Review, PLUS "Speechless Without Writers" Video Starring Mariska

It’s been a while since I watched an SVU episode that I actually thought was good. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either.

Despite the fact that Benson (Mariska Hargitay) was absent for most of the episode, Stabler (Chris Meloni) and the elusive John Munch (Richard Belzer) made a perfect pair to investigate this crime. (We even got to see Fin (Ice-T), which was a bonus.) Meloni and Belzer have such strong, established characters that they were able to keep the episode interesting, and made me not even wonder about Benson’s whereabouts. The best part of all: Chester Lake (Adam Beach) didn’t even make an appearance! Munch’s knowledge of the Hasid and of the Hebrew language was very believable, and it only validated how much Chester’s vast knowledge base seems so contrived.

The one thing where the Law & Order franchise seems consistent is in their apparent disdain for organized religion. It seems too often that all religions are portrayed as extreme and closed-minded. Personally, while I shun the ritualism and segregating behavior in some faiths, I don’t think that they are always fairly portrayed in the Law & Order universe. This episode of SVU recovered when they diverted the story away from what looked like was going to be another story about a pervert being sheltered by his faith.

I didn’t quite agree with how the trial progressed or the outcome. I think Casey (Diane Neal) could have done a better job in showing that the defendant probably really did understand that what he was doing was wrong. For example, the kid had to be watching other TV while he was growing up than just shows with explicit sex. Were we to believe that there were NO shows that he ever watched where intimate encounters were normal? And, in this day and age, I find it hard to believe that he had no discussion with classmates or friends about what was right and what was wrong when it came to sex. I go back to when I was a kid in the early 60s, and the kids talked about it all the time. So the fact that this boy seemed so clueless that what he was doing was wrong did not ring true for me.

The episode delivered a few chuckles for me. One was when, while being interrogated by Stabler, the kid made a reference to two men having sex in prison. I guess that was a shout out to Meloni’s performances as Chris Keller in Oz? The other was when Dr. Huang (B.D. Wong) told the young boy that Detectives Benson and Stabler were good at their jobs. Wasn't it Stabler and Munch that moved the case forward? He gave Benson credit when I don't think she had that much to do with the investigation.

Bottom line, the episode was much better that what we’ve seen from SVU of late. I have to give credit to the appearance of John Munch. He is probably one of the most credible, believable, and real characters on the show, and they need to use him more often.

Today's Extra: Speechless Without Writers Starring Marika Hargitay

Here's a bonus - another editorial comment about the writer's strike. It's being featured on a web site called Speechlesswithoutwriters, and on YouTube.

Mariska should panic. Pretty soon the high paid actors will be feeling the pinch of no new shows.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Law & Order: New Episode Summaries for the Week of January 13, 2008

This week, we have new episodes for Law & Order and Law & Order SVU. Here’s what to look for:

Law & Order SVU: Episode 09-13, “Unorthodox”, Airs January 15, 2008

A YOUNG JEWISH BOY IS BRUTALLY ATTACKED AND THE CLUES LEAD TO A DISTURBED CLASSMATE. When David Zelinsky (guest star Braeden Lemasters) shows up to school visibly beaten and sexually assaulted, Detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) look to David’s tutor (guest star Noel Joseph Allain) and his Rabbi (guest star Bob Dishy) for answers. The investigation soon leads to one of David’s troubled classmates, Jack Trembley (guest star Alexander Gould), as more victims begin to come forward. The case quickly turns into a media circus as Trembley’s attorney, Roxana Hickey (guest star Rhea Perlman), uses it as an opportunity for her own self-promotion.

Law & Order, Episode 18-04, “Bottomless” Airs January 16, 2008

A DRYCLEANING MIX-UP LEADS TO A MURDERED ATTORNEY AND A TRAIL OF CORPORATE CORRUPTION AND GREED. When a pair of men’s pants goes missing from a drycleaner, Detectives Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin) and Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) suspect the lost pants may be linked to the gruesome murder of a young lawyer. The evidence trail soon leads the detectives to a suspicious businessman who may be covering up a forbidden affair with a co-worker, and perhaps, far more.

There is no new Law & Order Criminal Intent on USA this week. NBC is re-airing an a episode first run on USA on October 11, 2007:

Law & Order Criminal Intent, Episode 07-02, “Seeds”, Re-Airs January 16, 2008
A fertility doctor is murdered, and his body is staged to appear as if the crime was a political statement. Logan (Chris Noth) and Falacci (Alicia Witt) follow clues that show the case has a more personal motive, and family of the victim may be involved.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Chris Meloni Joins the Cast for the Stepfather Remake

Various sources report that Chris Meloni (Law & Order SVU) will appear in the remake of the 1987 movie called “The Stepfather.” I am unable to find any information on exactly what role he will play in the movie.

The original Stepfather film, which starred Terry O’Quinn in the title role, is about a man who murders his own family, moves to another state and marries a widow. The widow’s daughter doesn't trust him...maybe for good reason.

Also in the cast with Chris are Dylan Walsh (in the title role), Sela Ward, Penn Badgley, Adrianne Palicki and Sherry Stringfield. The remake is supposed to be more of a Hitchcock-style thriller than the original. Also, instead of a teenage daughter, it will be a teenaged boy (played by Penn Badgley) who is suspicious of his new stepfather. Filming is expected to begin in late March/early April in Los Angeles.

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Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

L&O Actors in Other Roles: Adam Beach in the new “Comanche Moon”

Adam Beach will have a role in the mini-series “Comanche Moon”, which has its first installment on CBS on Sunday, January 13 at 9:00 PM ET. Comanche Moon is a prequel to the “Lonesome Dove” mini-series. The Sioux City Journal wrote an interesting article about Adam, covering Comanche Moon and his work with Law & Order SVU. The article is below.

Adam is also currently nominated for a Golden Globe for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television" for "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." This mini-series already won Dick Wolf an Emmy.

"Adam Beach breaks barriers
By Bruce R. Miller Journal staff writer

LOS ANGELES -- Hollywood Indian.

The term makes Adam Beach bristle. "It's such a stereotype," he says. "And yet, how do you get people away from it?"

His solution: Play a detective on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" who just happens to be Mohawk.

"In one year on that show," he says, "I did what I've been trying to do in 17 -- create a different perception of who we are as Indian people. It's amazing."

Growing up in Canada, Beach longed to have Johnny Depp's career. "On '21 Jump Street,' he played different characters involved with different high schools. I wanted to live a different life, too. Coming from the second worst neighborhood in Canada, I wanted more.

"The neighborhood was predominantly native and 80 percent of them went to jail."

Today, the 35-year-old says, he acts because he wants to be a role model for other native kids. "I never saw myself as Tom Cruise or wanting to have a certain stature. I just wanted to evolve and be the best I could be."

True to form, his resume has gotten more impressive every year. In 2006, he was key to Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers." This week, he plays Blue Duck, the outcast son of a Comanche warrior in "Comanche Moon," a prequel to the award-winning "Lonesome Dove." ("That's got to be one of the worst names," he says with a laugh.)

But the prestige factor of the miniseries can't be ignored -- it's written by Oscar winners Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana and it stars Val Kilmer, Steve Zahn and Rachel Griffiths. Best of all, it's one of those network cornerstones that could spell big ratings in the cold of winter.

A member of the Saulteaux Tribe of Manitoba, Beach was sent to live with relatives in Winnipeg after his parents died within two months of each other. Acting became a release and a chance to prove "we're not just a statistic of failure. There are some of us doing good."

At 16, he met an extras casting director who hired him for a role in "Lost in the Barrens." That led to independent films and several Canadian series. When Eastwood came calling, Beach was ready. The Oscar-winning director cast him as World War II Marine Ira Hayes -- a troubled man who couldn't deal with the attention that came from his participation in the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. The role won Beach critical acclaim and a shot at making that "role model" dream come true.

"I'm not in the business to make money. I'm someone that a generation of native peoples across North America looks to in the sense of a hero -- someone who has done the impossible."

While he isn't Mohawk, Beach says he's able to tap into the tribe's characteristics and use them to fuel Detective Chester Lake, the character he plays on "SVU."

"Mohawks have a lot of bravado," he explains. "They're known for being a really tough, tough nation. When they'd play lacrosse, there'd be 400 members on each side doing battle. To score a goal, someone would die. They used the game to resolve land issues and the Mohawks always won."

The Mohawks were native to the New York area and helped build it, he says. So that drive -- that pride of heritage -- gives Lake reason for some of his actions.

Beach's tribe? "The Saulteaux were Eastern Woodland Indians. They had a relationship with the Plains Indians," he says. "They're good people but they're not like the Mohawks."

That nuance, he says, is something he wishes more people knew. Eventually, "we'll get there."

Now, though, he's dealing with life in New York. "The first time I was there I stayed in a hotel and lasted about 10 minutes. I felt like a rat in a laboratory. I went walking down the streets and realized you couldn't see the sunlight.

"Now, it's like I'm in the center of the world. The people you run into could be a businessman or a homeless man. The mayor still takes subway and he's a wealthy man. The city never stops. It makes you want more out of yourself because you're so consumed by everybody else surrounding you."

Television? "It's an extension of who you are. When I joined 'Law & Order' the other actors said, 'Just be yourself. Try not to overanalyze who the character is. They want you.'"

Beach heeded the advice but found himself copying Christopher Meloni's speech patterns. "I sounded like him," he says. "He said, 'Hey, Adam...don't come in and do the same thing I'm doing.' I figured, he's the lead actor, you don't want to overstep his boundaries, you want to complement what he does. So I listened and now I'm more like me."

"Comanche Moon" airs Sunday on CBS; "Law & Order: SVU" airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC. "

A link to the actual article can be found here.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information, HERE!

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Friday, January 11, 2008

"The View" from Sam Waterston: January 16

Sam Waterston is scheduled to be on ABC’s “The View” on Wednesday, January 16. He’s being billed as “Sam Waterston (Unity '08 and Law & Order)” so you know some politics will be discussed.

Check your local listings for air time.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Law & Order “Misbegotten”: Missed the Mark, Got Me Confused

I can always tell the sign of a confusing episode. It’s when I have to back up the recording and watch a scene over.

I had to do that a lot for “Misbegotten.” The first problem was that there were many times that I had to re-listen to something that Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) said, because he seems to mumble AND speak in a very low register, which for me makes him hard to understand. The second problem is that there were too many people and names involved that I was having a hard time keeping track of who was who. The third time was to enjoy the scenes with Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) because right now they seem to be the best parts of the show.

Many other things seem “off” in other ways with this new season of Law & Order. I think it’s a collection of many things:

1. Jeremy Sisto, who seems to be so low key and brooding that he’s almost invisible to me. Speak up and emote, please!

2. Weird camera angles. In one scene, Ed (Jesse Martin) was questioning a husband and wife about their involvement, and the camera is shooting Ed and the husband from the back. You can see one side of Ed’s face and a lot of his body, but most of the rest of the shot is the husband's back – and glare. There was also a scene in Anita’s (S. Epatha Merkerson) office where she is talking to Green and Lupo and her back is to the camera. I never saw more backs in my life, and it makes for uninteresting viewing.

3. Yet another reference to Lupo’s sister-in-law, and a strange one at that. Did we really have to see her legs walking up the stairs while Ed stared at them? This does not bode well, I think. Please make the sister-in-law go away.

4. Along that line, what is the deal with all this personal information from the characters? I really though it odd when Ed went on about his personal experience with abortion. It seemed out of place for a show that always took great pains to keep personal stuff out. Couple that with Ed’s staring at the sister-in-law, and suddenly I don’t care if I get to know Ed any more.

5. The first half of this show seemed abnormally confusing to me. I couldn’t keep track of all the players. I also sensed a weird vibe with Anita and Ed, and Anita and Lupo. She suddenly seems at odds with both of them. Frankly I would think by now she would be able to have a different kind of discussion with Ed if she questioned something he did. The whole chemistry with the detective group is way off. I'm going to say something very frightening here: I think that I would rather see Chester Lake (Adam Beach) from the SVU team paired with Ed. As annoying as Chester is, he would have been a better fit on L&O. (I can't believe said it, but there it is.)

6. The introduction of the baseball bat in Cutter’s office was silly. The manner in which it was done was as serious as an infraction as too much personal information. Case in point: In Jack’s office, we always saw fleeting hints of Jack in either a picture or something he kept on his credenza, like that model sailboat or the picture of his daughter. Those things were always props, yet they teased at whom Jack McCoy “the person” was. But, I guess that the people writing the show now think that with Cutter, we need to make his props more obvious, and literally and figuratively hitting us with it using a baseball bat. It seemed very out of place and way too staged, and came off as phony.

7. The limited courtroom scenes were dull.

Things I liked:

1. Jack McCoy. He’s still got “IT”, and is getting the best lines and scenes of the show. “Put that away” in response to Cutter’s (Linus Roache) dragging out his blackberry to call the judge. “Too late, Joe…Judge”, Jack catches himself referring to the judge by his name during an ex parte discussion – and the Judge’s comment “Nice to still see you tilting at windmills.” Jack McCoy – and of course Sam Waterston – really know how to bring out the drama.

2. The second half of the show has more possibilities than the first. Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) had funny dialog with Cutter. When Cutter says, “This boy of yours, Jack McCoy…” and she responds, “We agreed no dumping on Jack in front of Connie.” I think Cutter and Rubirosa have potential for great chemistry.

The real stinker here was the story itself. It didn’t grab me. It didn’t draw me in. There was no drama. I didn’t care about the characters or the outcome. It was like everybody is going through the motions. And the whole “feel” of the show seems foreign. There’s nothing wrong with tweaking the formula of a show to bring some excitement, but there’s also the adage “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” It seems that in the process of changing out and adding actors, they’ve messed with the formula, the camera angles, the look of the sets, the feel of the dialog, etc. I don’t feel like I am watching the same Law & Order that I have loved and enjoyed all these years.

I keep hoping that the next episode will be better, but somehow I don’t have high hopes for this season. If the show continues to get its rhythm in the second half of the show, there may be hope. But I do have worries about the first half of the show. It’s fallen and I’m not sure it can get up.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Murder Unscripted" : A Law & Order Spoof

Below is a video short from YouTube, called “Murder Unscripted”, starring some Law & Order franchise and Homicide: Life on The Streets actors (Chris Noth, Kathryn Erbe, Eric Bogosian, Zeljko Ivanek). Someone put it together in support of the Writers Guild of America (WGA). Being the tough critic I am, I have to warn you that I think the video is only mildly funny. Frankly, with some of the recent less than stellar episodes for some of the L&O franchise shows, I think it already seems like amateurs are writing them. And by the way, I think Eric Bogosian’s acting in “Murder Unscripted” is just about on par with his performances on Criminal Intent, so I guess I didn’t see what was supposed to be funny about him in this clip. (Sarcasm intended.)

Editorial comment: I do understand what the writers are trying to accomplish by their strike. I just hope they don’t cut off their noses to spite their faces by holding out too long or setting their goals too high. Some shows, like the soaps, could be killed, never to return, if the strike goes on too long. And that would put a lot of writers – and a lot of others who support their craft and these shows – out of work too.

Anyway, enjoy the video!

Murder Unscripted

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Law & Order SVU: A Sloppy “Signature”

Law & Order SVU’s “Signature” had so many possibilities. The underlying story was interesting. But major flaws in its execution made this episode almost painful to watch.

The story centered on Benson’s (Mariska Hargitay) and FBI Agent Cooper’s (Erika Christensen) investigation of a murder at the hands of a known serial killer, and then for the murder of the serial killer himself. It was somewhat disturbing – a word I rarely use to describe an SVU episode – to see the serial killer’s place of operation, and to see the TV playing what appeared to be a recording of a victim’s graphic torture and screams. It really displayed that SVU investigates heinous crimes, a word used in their introduction but a trait that seems absent from SVU for a while.

The flaws in the show are many. First and foremost was the guest star, Erika Christensen. With the exception of the final scene in which she appeared, she was absolutely horrible. In some of her initial scenes, her voice seemed as if it had to be dubbed over. Her delivery was flat and lifeless. As far as the character she played, most questionable was her grabbing a scalpel-like object to cut open the tape over a victim’s mouth. What was she thinking by holding an object over the victim that was likely used to torture the victim? If her wooden acting was supposed to convey a detached FBI agent, it really didn’t work. I found her character to be highly annoying.

We also could have done without super detective (sarcasm intended) Chester Lake (Adam Beach). His method of putting himself in Agent Cooper’s mind while searching her apartment was laughable. SVU seems intent on making Chester out to be some kind of magical Sherlock Holmes style detective or profiler who can get in a suspect’s head or who always has the most obscure piece of knowledge to help solve a case. It’s not working. I’m getting tired of Chester and he needs to go.

Another annoyance is that when one of the show’s major players is missing, the story never seems to explain it. Did I miss an explanation for Stabler’s (Chris Meloni) absence? And where is Munch and Fin? SVU has repeatedly messed with the chemistry of this show and it is really dragging it down.

Getting back to the ever-wise Chester, how come it apparently never seemed to cross his mind – or Benson’s for that matter – that Agent Cooper had another gun in her possession? It seemed to obvious to me that once they walked into Cooper’s apartment and saw her sitting at a table with her gun and badge on it, that a suicide was coming. Just because they pulled the gun off the table and she said that her mentor’s gun was taken apart and disposed of doesn’t mean that she was truthful about that gun. Poor work on the part of the writers here; they seemed to make the detectives put down their guard once the gun was off the table. Benson’s reaction was gripping, though, although it did seem to telegraph “ for Emmy consideration.”

Benson’s defense of this FBI agent was also misplaced, considering that she just met this woman and really didn’t know much about her. Yes, I know she told Captain Cragen (Dann Florek) something like “You don’t know her” but Cragen reminded Olivia that she didn’t really know her either. Olivia’s “spider senses” seem way off this season.

And count me still confused as to why an EADA pulled the case against the agent. I thought they had enough evidence to proceed with the case.

My suggestion to the writers and producers at Law & Order SVU is to go back and look at the episodes from the first two seasons. There was grittiness to the stories, and a chemistry with the cast, that is absent lately. “Special Victims” seems less than special.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Monday, January 7, 2008

“Signature”: New SVU Episode, Air Date January 8, 2008

Here’s a summary of the upcoming NEW Law & Order SVU episode, set to air on Tuesday. January 8, at 10:00 PM ET.

A woman's body is found murdered in a Central Park, alongside a man with a bullet in his head. Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Special Agent Cooper (guest star Erika Christensen) join forces and suspect "The Woodsman", a serial killer Cooper has tried to catch for years. Lake (Adam Beach) and Benson begin to question Cooper's true motives when the male victim is later identified as "The Woodsman"

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Law & Order Season Premier Is Tops in Ratings

It must be nice to be back home. Law & Order, returning to its original time slot - plus an extra hour earlier - welcomes itself back with some great ratings. (See information from Zap2it, below.) It sounds, though, that they didn't grab the key demographic that Dick Wolf seemingly geared the new cast members to attract. I guess NBC and the advertisers will have to be happy with us "over 49 old folks" who probably have a lot more disposable income that they think. Also, CSI-NY, the usual rating grabber, is in reruns, so hopefully L&O will continue to strengthen to hold on to, or increase, those numbers once CSI-NY runs new episodes.

The New York Post also reported on January 4: " "L&O" snared 13.4 million viewers (9-11 p.m.) with new cast members Linus Roache and Jeremy Sisto on board. Those were NBC's best numbers, in that time slot, since April 2005 (excluding Olympics coverage)." Hmmmm...a lot of Law & Order fans chided NBC for moving the show from Wednesday night, and as it looks from the ratings, the fans seem smarter than the people at NBC (but you already knew that!).

Zap2it reports the following:

" 'Law' on NBC's Side Wednesday
Series return tops Fiesta Bowl in ratings

January 3, 2008

Fast National ratings for Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008

The return of "Law & Order" to NBC Wednesday brought the network a share of the ratings crown.

NBC won the night overall with an 8.5 rating/13 share. FOX came in second with a 7.3/11, with those numbers subject to change as the network aired live college football. ABC, 5.8/9, finished third, topping CBS' 4.5/7. The CW drew a 1.4/2.

FOX snagged the top spot among adults 18-49 with a 4.1 rating. ABC and NBC tied for second in the key demographic at 3.7. CBS averaged 1.9 and The CW 0.9.

"Deal or No Deal" 7.7/12, put NBC on top at 8 p.m. FOX's coverage of the Fiesta Bowl earned a 7.0/11. ABC's "Wife Swap" premiered to a 5.6/9, beating the 4.3/7 for the return of "Power of 10" on CBS. The CW trailed with "Crowned.

"The "Law & Order" premiere scored a 9.1/14 for NBC at 9 p.m. FOX's college football improved to 8.0/12. "Supernanny" returned to ABC with a 5.7/9, keeping the Alphabet ahead of a "Criminal Minds" rerun on CBS. "Gossip Girl," 1.6/2, closed the night for The CW.

At 10 p.m., a second installment of "Law & Order" drew an 8.7/14 for NBC. The Fiesta Bowl dipped to 7.0/11 on FOX. Another hour of "Supernanny" ticked up a little on ABC, while CBS got a 4.3/7 from a rerun of "CSI: NY."

Ratings information is taken from fast national data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are preliminary and subject to change, especially in the case of live telecasts. "

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Law & Order - A Shaky Start?

The much awaited Law & Order season premier last night left me with mixed feelings. It was great to have the show back, but I’m not quite sure that I liked some of the changes. Generally, I thought both episodes were average.

The good: Sam Waterston is still in it. Alana De La Garza finally looks human. Favorites S. Epatha Merkerson and Jesse Martin are still holding the fort. Linus Roache looks like a good fit. The opening credits finally have new pictures, and Jack McCoy looks appropriately like the “BMOC” (Big Man On Campus for those of you who can’t keep up on abbreviations). I have to admit, though, that I miss “The Walk” down the hallway with Jack, and the new shot, take outside at the courthouse, makes the group look disconnected emotionally, like they are not really a team.

The bad: The stories. The shaky cam. The lifeless, trite dialog. Jeremy Sisto. The spark, and the edginess, is gone. Suddenly the entire DA’s office seems to have a lot more people milling around and seems a lot messier.

In my opinion, the first episode “Called Home” was an uninteresting story that really didn’t seem to draw me in. How many times does the franchise have to do a story on assisted suicides and the fallout from them? The series used to take great pains to keep personal information out of the show, and only feed it to people in tiny tidbits buried somewhere in the dialog or scene, as some sort of ghostly apparition. With this episode, we get a mumbling Cyrus Lupo – and his brother's family – as the central story line. I cringed every time his sister in law and kids appeared on the screen. I hoped this would not be a pattern (more on this later).

Jack McCoy had the best lines in the show. For example, he says to Cutter when Cutter seems in over his head; “ Duffy. Look that up in your gadget.” And of course, there's the slam against Arthur Branch, and maybe all the other previous District Attorneys, “ It’s a working office now, not a showroom.” Of course, Jack still seems to have the need to hang his clothes in his office, despite the fact that as DA, he probably has a very nice closet somewhere.

And this may seem like an insignificant issue to most people, but I really didn’t care for the woman judge. I wish we would have gotten one of the usual standbys as we did in the second episode. Maybe the old standbys are abandoning a sinking ship? And did I miss somewhere a previous explanation of what happened to Detective Nina Cassady (Milena Govich)? Not that I miss her - I don’t - it just would be nice if the show explained it.

Can anyone verify a timeline issue? The date indicated August 15 when the TV guy’s defense attorney was on the outside stairs to the courthouse, when he said that Jack was in DA’s office for less than two weeks. Does anyone recall the date shown when Jack made his first appearance as DA on Law & Order SVU a few weeks back? (By the way, Jack’s office looked much cleaner then.) I’m wondering if they synchronized the timelines. We know that Dick Wolf are not that good in continuity.

The second episode, “Darkness” begins with a horrifying sight for me. Lupo’s brother’s family has returned. Oh please, my brain screamed silently, don’t make this a habit. The first segment seemed more like a Criminal Intent episode, where we are introduced to the victims. Frankly, I prefer the standard Law & Order intro where the crime has already taken place. In my opinion, it cuts to the chase a little faster, and makes the unfolding of the story and building the case more compelling.

There were also a few things that seemed off. For example, where they were chasing the guy who was on the bike, when Ed and Cyrus rounded the corner, the shop owner was already shouting to them that the man had an accident. There also seemed to be way too much blood on the ground for something that just happened and instant earlier. Prior to that scene, Ed also suddenly forgets Lennie’s patented way of getting around the need for a search warrant, where Lennie would say “I think I hear a scream”, or “I think I smell gas” etc. to rationalize his entry. Instead, Ed calls Cutter, who is in a courtroom that seems to be in complete disarray due to a simple power outage. I would have been much easier if Ed would have just learned from Lennie and taken the risk. The whole issue with the absent warrant may have been moot. On a separate issue: did we really need a scene where a woman on the street comes on to Lupo during the outage? A completely worthless scene, seemingly the purpose was that we were supposed to find Lupo attractive? (I don't.)

It also appears that Jack McCoy, the EADA who never seemed to care about politics or his job, is suddenly rife with commentary about protecting himself. We heard it in the first episode when Jack rails on Cutter for making what he thought was a questionable arrest, and in “Darkness”, Jack says “What do you do for fun Mike? Juggle chains saws with my neck on the line?” Of course, there’s also the inference that Jack is, well, old. Rubirosa mentions in an earlier scene that Jack still has an antique typewriter in his office that’s she’d pry out of his hands. Couple that with the ubiquitous Blackberry and it’s their way of saying out with the old, in with the new, and even Jack has sold out to a point.

The one line that was right on the mark was during a scene in McCoy’s office, while they were discussing the power company collusion. I had just been thinking that the writers really stretched this story to an unbelievable place with the whole idea that the kidnapping was timed to coincide with the power outage. Right at that point, McCoy says “The vice president of a power company involved in a kidnapping? C’mon!” Thanks Jack, for being as incredulous as I was and for stating the obvious. Of course, that acknowledgement, probably put there by the writers to maybe get them off the hook for such a ridiculous stretch, didn’t make it any better.

While I’m glad the show is back, I think that the show has lost its way. It seems to be sanitized of any drama, and of credible stories. Jeremy Sisto mumbles worse than Richard Brooks when he played Paul Robinette in the early years of the series, and Sisto seems to be the weak link here. He’s overly brooding and a little lifeless to me. But there is hope in the DA’s office. Linus Roache show promise, despite the trite, and fake, New York accent. Alana De La Garza finally looks like the beautiful woman that she is, and even her acting seems to have increased life. And of course, Sam Waterston is still there, acting as the glue that keeps it all together.

I hope the following weeks are better...or that my expectations come back down to earth.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Law & Order SVU: “Streetwise” Missed the Mark

I am not quite sure what I don’t like about SVU lately, but something is just wrong with this show. The episode that aired on January 1 – “Streetwise” – just seemed weak. I found myself getting distracted by all kinds of superficial things:

1. Olivia’s (Mariska Hargitay) hair – what’s the deal with it? Very unbecoming. If they are trying to make her look harsh, it’s working, but it’s also off-putting.

2. Benson and Stabler (Chris Meloni) both looked so tan to me. It was like they were both off for a few weeks in Hawaii. If one of them looked like that I’d just pass it off. But both of them looked sun-kissed in many scenes to me. Maybe they have a new makeup person?

3. That “father” that was leading the homeless kids was the cleanest looking homeless person I’ve ever seen on television. I mean really, for someone who said he’s lived on the street much of his life, he looked like he had perfect teeth. And the mother looked like she sure had a lot of money for makeup and hair dye. They were the best looking homeless people I’ve ever seen.

4. And will someone please make Chester (Adam Beach) and his frequent tidbits of knowledge just go away?

5. I know that the cops have to sometimes do devious things to get information, but c’mon, eating food in front of a kid who’s starving? That’s just plain torture, I think. I would never expect the "Special Victims" people to be so cruel to a kid.

On the plus side, I really enjoyed the street scene where Stabler chased the guy into the road and into traffic under a bridge. Great use of the city scenery, and they should do these kinds of shots more often.

The framework of the story was pretty good, but for some reason lately, Law & Order SVU seems to find a way to suck the life out of it. The dialog is flat and emotionless, and it’s no wonder that the actors seem to be going through the motions.

I hope that when the writers finish striking, that they come back with some decent, creative story lines for this show. And I also hope that the atrophy hasn’t spread to Law & Order The Mothership. We’ll find out tonight!

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Law & Order January Episode Recaps

A reminder: the two hour Law & Order season premier begins on Wednesday, January 2nd, at 9:00 PM. The summary for Called Home/Darkness is on my blog at the link HERE .

Here’s a listing of the upcoming episodes for January 2008, with summaries from NBC:

Episode 18-03 “Misbegotten”, Airs January 9, 2007
A SCIENTIST’S CONTROVERSIAL RESEARCH IS EXPOSED AFTER A MYSTERIOUS PACKAGE EXPLODES. An explosion hospitalizes a pregnant guard, leading Detectives Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin) and Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) to a Gen-Tech scientist whose lab is housed in the same building where the bomb is delivered. When the detectives discover the injured security guard had been one of the doctor’s research subjects, ADAs Michael Cutter (Linus Roache) and Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) suspect the security guard’s brother-in-law.

Episode 18-04, “Bottomless” Airs January 16, 2008
A DRY CLEANING MIX-UP LEADS TO A MURDERED ATTORNEY AND A TRAIL OF CORPORATE CORRUPTION AND GREED. When a pair of men’s pants goes missing from a dry cleaner, Detectives Ed Green (Jesse L. Martin) and Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) suspect the lost pants may be linked to the gruesome murder of a young lawyer. The evidence trail soon leads the detectives to a suspicious businessman who may be covering up a forbidden affair with a co-worker, and perhaps, far more.

Episode 18-05 “Illegal", Airs January 23, 2008
A CASE WHERE A COP KILLS A WOMAN RAISES TENSION IN THE DA’S OFFICE. A murdered woman is found in an alleyway dumpster after a riot at an immigration rally. Detectives Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) and Ed Green’s (Jesse L. Martin) investigation leads to an auxiliary cop’s over zealous attempt to stop the riot. The political nature of case elevates tension in the DA’s office as DA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) assigns ADA Josh Lethem (guest star John Pankow) to prosecute the case. But Lethem has his own biased agenda, bringing McCoy’s liberal background into question.

Check out my blog home page for the latest Law & Order information,

Also, see my companion Law & Order site,
These Are Their Stories.