Thursday, February 21, 2008

Law & Order “Executioner” Fails to Execute

If it weren’t for the great chemistry of the players in the second half of the show, I’d say this episode would have remained plodding and devoid of drama and interest. But, even the second half teetered on a snooze-fest.

The case involved Dr. Mark Burns (Alan Zweibel) being murdered while attending a conference. While investigating the crime, Detectives Lupe (Jeremy Sisto) and Green (Jesse L. Martin) originally believe the doctor was murdered as part of a con. Instead they find that the intended target was Dr. Garrison (James Rebhorn), who we later discover participated in a botched lethal injection. And it seems that Dr. Garrison was being targeted for revenge.

It seems that the introduction to the show had more of a Law & Order Criminal Intent feel, which made it a little dull to start. What is noticeably absent is the witty line – which I call the “Lennie Line” - that used to take viewers to the opening credits. It seems since Jerry Orbach left the show, this intro segment has continued to be weak, but in this episode it was as if they completely abandoned any “hook” whatsoever. I think the writers need to work harder to grab the viewers into the show. It doesn’t have to be a Lennie Line, but there should be something to spark interest.

For the most part, the first half of the show was bland and frankly there is not much to even write about. But, as the pattern has been for this new season, the second half has been giving us some great interactions with the people in the DA’s office.

For example, when Cutter (Linus Roache) seems to be uncomfortable with proceeding with the murder case, he says to McCoy (Sam Waterston):

Cutter: I’m sorry. I…I don’t know that I can defend this against a motion to dismiss.
McCoy: Then I’ll defend it.

That’s Jack, still showing he has the desire to be in the thick of things and pick up on something that may be controversial. Later, while standing up for his principles with the judge, Jack says, “They imported a doctor because they couldn’t find one in their own state. Like the mob, bringing in an out of town hit man.” That’s Jack again, going for the jugular with an analogy that is hard to refute. Of course, he makes his point and gets his way. When Jack tells Cutter to make his efforts worth his while, we get a little humorous sarcasm from Cutter:

Cutter: Putting lethal injection on trial, an appeal to the jury’s political views.
McCoy: That shouldn’t be a problem.
Cutter: Because Lord knows something like that will never work!

Later, while McCoy, Cutter, and Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) debate the case and Cutter’s wanting to proceed despite the influence of the witness who was incapacitated by the lethal injection, we get this exchange:

McCoy: No shades of gray in this for you, Mike.
Cutter: Nope.
McCoy: Good.

Rubirosa looked a little defeated, while McCoy looked at Cutter like a Jedi Master looks at a Padawan Learner who just learned an important lesson.

Still, the case really wasn’t that interesting and never really grabbed me or drew me in to the story. If it was supposed to elicit some kind of emotional response from viewers about the death penalty and lethal injection, it really didn’t do it for me.

I did enjoy the “light” parts of the show, like when Lupo picks dog hair off the woman at the shop and shares a dog story to get her to give him information, and when the warden at the prison facility called Connie “Ruby-Rosa” as a bit of a dig. The bad part is that when they say the case is taking them someplace, as in this episode Hilton Head or Charleston, at least pick a setting that looks a little like the location. You know, sunny and with some green trees? I bet they just filmed that in New York or New Jersey or something. I also find it interesting that this season, they are giving Connie more backbone. I enjoyed when she nudged Cutter to “make a choice, Mike.” While she didn’t get Jack’s approval on her views on the case, at least she’s not being intimidated in her job.

Still, this story failed on quite a few levels. The first half needs some adrenaline, or at least not start the show with that “Criminal Intent” feel. But, at least they are building up an interesting team in the DA’s office that makes it worth watching. And there are no shades of gray in that.

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1 comment:

RightMindedBlogger said...

Any idea where I can find this episode, in full, on the internet? My mom asked me about it today...Thanks!