Thursday, January 3, 2013

Law & Order SVU “Presumed Guilty” Recap & Review

It’s rare that an SVU episode is so awful that I was tempted to not write a recap and review. But, I trudged through it, thinking that I have a responsibility to warn others who haven’t seen the episode to watch it at their own risk.

Even Denis O’Hare could not save the one. By the way,  Denis epitomizes the moniker "Law & Order repeat offender,” having been on 4 Law & Orders, 1 SVU, and 1 Criminal Intent. The later was as the same character he portrayed in this episode, a worthless value as his previous connection to the L&O universe was never made in this episode.

One thing I know for sure, I never want to see another Christmas themed Law & Order SVU. EVER. Some fans like to see their favorite SVU characters in real life situations, but I am not one of them. I don’t mind a little personal story line here and there, but the holiday themed subplots in this episode were  overkill.

When the ADA commented that “a carjacking is not a sex crime” a said loudly to the television,  “Thank you for stating the obvious.” While this ADA seemed written with the sole purpose to annoy, he called that one correctly.  Ultimately the carjacking did lead to a years old instance of abuse of a child at the hands of a cleric, but it was an awfully convoluted way to get there. To make matters worse, once it seemed there was an SVU case in there somewhere, the story became horribly predictable.  This was another episode that attempted to jump start an SVU crime with a non-SVU crime, and in my opinion, it diluted the telling the story of the special victim.

Some of the dialog and behavior seemed out of character and just…odd. Examples were when Benson said “screw you” to Fin (even though it was to preface her offer to help despite his protests) and later when she referred to Rollins as a “Georgia peach.” And let’s not even go there with what seemed to be going on with Fin and ME Warner.

I also didn’t care for the ending where Benson is flying off to her vacation with a mystery companion, of which we only saw a hand and part of an arm. Was this a bone to throw to shippers to get them talking and/or to fuel their hopes that it was Elliott?  Was it a woman with "man hands?"   Or, is Benson now dating “Thing” from the Addams Family?  I found the scene laughable.

The acting and the writing were wooden (except for Denis O’Hare, who was wonderful as always). There was nothing in this episode that made me feel  anything for any of the characters.

As the Christmas music was playing over the ending scenes, I was hoping that maybe I had fallen asleep during the episode and I was really having a nightmare.

One thing that was good to see was the use of a video camera to record a suspect’s questioning. As the NYPD recently caught up with most of the US in wider use of video during questionings, it’s good to see SVU also adopt the practice.

Some episodes are better forgotten. “Presumed Guilty” is one of them. But, as they often say in the Law & Order Universe, sometimes one can’t un-ring the bell.

 (The nightmare before Christmas)

Here is the recap:

Mariska Hargitay – Detective Olivia Benson
Ice-T – Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola
Richard Belzer – Sergeant John Munch
Dann Florek – Captain Don Cragen
Kelli Giddish - Detective Amanda Rollins
Danny Pino - Detective Nick Amaro

Guest stars:
Tamara Tunie - Dr. Melinda Warner
Denis O’Hare – Father Chris Shea
Erik LaRay Harvey – Sam
Melissa Marsala - Margarita
LisaGay Hamilton – Teresa Randall
Peter Gerety – Judge Peter Harrison
Nathan Lee Graham - ADA
Daniel Raymont - Benitez
Theo Rossi - Enrique
Tony Plana – Monsignor Menendez
Gizel Jimenez – Angelica Rodriguez
Nicolette Pierini – Sofia Santiago
Rene Ifrah – Office Bracken
Alison Fernandez - Zara Amaro
Jon Freda – Public Defender
Rene Ojeda – Old Latino Man
Jaden Harmon – Dante Randall

At a Christmas party in the ME’s office with the SVU and medical examiner groups, Rollins is “cornered” by an ME worker and when she enlists Fin to help her get out of the conversation, he isn’t much help. Benson tells ME Warner that she is working tomorrow but Christmas Eve she is off to the Bahamas, but when Warner asks with who, Benson says it is with “a friend.” Warner laughs, accusing Benson of taking the 5th.

Elsewhere, Father Shea is at a Christmas party and says he has a doll  for a special girl. Later, Fr. Shea is in his car as the young girl - Sofia - runs up and gets in the car, telling him she forgot something – she made him a Christmas card.

At Amaro’s home, he is there with Zara and she hands him her Christmas list, saying she wants a bike, an iPad mini, a puppy, and mommy and daddy to be together. He asks if they should call her mom and say goodnight.

Back in the car, Fr. Shea thanks Sofia for the card and hugs her. Someone slams what looks like a tire iron into  the car windows. Fr. Shea tells Sofia to run. Someone pulls Fr. Shea out of the car and beats him while Sofia watches. Another man calls out asking what the man who is beating Fr. Shea is doing.

Back at Amaro’s, he speaks with Maria on the phone about Christmas, saying he did not get Zara too much and that Zara wants a puppy. He adds his mother is taking Zara on the train Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, Fr. Shea is being taken away by ambulance. A man, Sam – likely the one who’s voice called out to the attacker - tells the police that someone was beating Fr. Shea. But someone from the crowd counters that, saying that Sam was the one who beat the priest and stole the present and the other kids ran off. As police arrest Sam, he swears he did not do this, and says his brother in law in on the job.

Back at the Christmas party, Teresa, Fin’s ex-wife, races in and asks Benson to see Fin. She then approaches Fin, who is taking with Warner. Warner’s arm is resting on his shoulder, and she makes a quick exit. Teresa tells him that her brother Sam has been arrested, and they say he carjacked a priest, then vigilantes beat him up. She insists he turned it around. Fin says he has been on parole for 9 months and is skeptical. Sandy gets a phone call from Ken, their son, and walks off. Fin tells Benson and Rollins that his ex brother in law got locked up again, and his family is complicated.

Fin drives with Rollins to the police station. He says she did not have to come with him, but she says it was either him or the morgue driver. Fin says Sam has been more in jail than out over the last 6 years. His ex tells him that Sam is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rollins thinks people can change. Fin says you don’t get your ass kicked for nothing.

At the 55th precinct, Sam tells Fin and Rollins he is guilty of being black. He admits he he was in a fight, but he was trying to save that priest, they were calling him short eyes and chomo. Fin asks if he is making that up, and Sam says it is the truth. He saw them beating the priest and a kid running away. Rollins questions what he looked like, and Sam corrects her that it was a she, young, maybe 8 or 9 and Hispanic, long hair and cute. Sam says that not all priests like boys. Fin asks if he saw him do anything to her, and Sam says he saw two guys kicking his head in and they were going to kill him. Fin voices skepticism, and Sam says he swears, he doesn’t a car, he doesn’t want to get sent back to prison, so why would he do this? Rollins looks at Fin, and Sam adds that he has to get home for Christmas.

Later, Fin and Rollins talk with the office who says it was a righteous collar. They got two  911 calls about the priest on the ground and that others kept a black man from stealing his car and witnesses on the scene confirmed. Rollins questions about the guys who attacked Sam, and the office says they took off when they heard sirens. Rollins questions - good Samaritans that did not stick around? The priest did not ID Sam as he is still unconscious. Rollins asks if anyone talked to the girl, and when the officer asks what girl, she adds that there was girl with the priest and she ran from the car. He says he did not hear anything about this, and Fin tells her to let it go.

At Payson Avenue, Benson and Amaro walk up to the scene of the crime as Fin and Rollins look over Fr. Shea’s car. Rollins mentions the inconsistencies like the girl who ran from the car, and Fin says Sam could have made her up. Rollins goes on to mention the disappearing vigilantes and there is no statement from the vic. Amaro says he talked to the 911 callers and they both saw the black man’s face and could not ID the neighborhood guys who beat him up. Rollins says the car has not been processed, and Amaro is surprised that CSU did not cover the scene. Fin says it is not likely as it was two days before Christmas. Benson suggests they ask Warner to back door it and send techs, but Fin says he divorced into this and there is no need to drag her into it. Benson says “Screw you Fin.I’m all yours till Christmas Eve and after that you’re on your own.” Amaro looks in the car and finds the Christmas card from Sofia, and Rollins suggest this means Sam was telling the truth about seeing a little girl. Fin says it doesn’t prove anything, but Benson points to a nearby surveillance camera and says that might.

Back at SVU, they watch the surveillance tape and they think it shows Sam is telling the truth, but Fin says the assault is off camera and it doesn’t prove anything. Benson says they called Shea a pedophile and asks what they know about him. Rollins explains the transferred to an orphanage in Guatemala 4 years ago. He was ordained in May of 1996 and before Guatemala he was in Boston and Chicago and was a prison chaplain on Staten Island and 10 years ago he was at St. Horatio’s in Inwood. Benson says they have a priest who moved around a lot and was alone at night in a car with a girl. Amaro defends him, saying priests get transferred for a lot of reasons and a young priest like that sometimes threatens the “old guard” at a parish and they don’t want to lose control. Benson asks how they track down the girl and two guys, and Fin, who is looking at his phone, says they may have a break. Father Shea regained consciousness. Benson says she will go talk to him, but Amaro suggests that he and Fin may be better and she and Rollins can pay a visit to their old pal DA Barba and show him the video. Rollins said they could if he wasn’t skiing in Gstaad. Benson says how about “Georgia Peach” and her sweet talk the unlucky junior ADA who got stuck with the holiday weekend.

At Superior Court, Benson and Rollins explain the situation with Sam to the ADA and when he questions them, Rollins asks where is his supervisor. He asks if they are the arresting officers and when they don’t say yes, he says a carjacking is not a sex crime, asking what is this about. Benson says the suspect is family. He replies she should have kept that to herself, he bids them good day, and walks off. Rollins tells Benson so much for sweet talk.

Meanwhile, Fin and Amaro speak with Fr. Shea who thinks he got jumped for the gifts. He forgives them,  saying it is done, but Amaro says it is not, they have a suspect in custody and they need him to ID him. Fr. Shea says he is not interested in pressing charges, but Fin makes him look at a group of photos anyway. Her recognizes Sam as the good Samaritan who saved him from the 2 others, and he could not make out their faces. He does not recall being called any names, and Fin wonders if the little girl can help clear this up. Amaro asks why he was alone with Sofia and Fr. Shea says he visited her at her apartment and gave her a gift and she came back down to give him a card and doesn’t think she saw anything. Amaro says they will have to confirm it with her and Fr. Shea says her name is Sofia Santiago, her mother Margarita is the secretary at St. Horatio’s. He comes back every year to visit his sister and look into his old parishioners. When Fr. Shea asks if there is anything else, Fin says that for the man who saved him – Fr. Shea needs to return the favor.

At arraignment court, Sam pleads not guilty, and Fin and Amaro approach and ask the ADA for a word. Amaro shows him Fr. Shea’s statement but the ADA is reluctant to show it to the judge as he doesn’t know the detectives or know if Fr. Shea was pressured into making the statement. Amaro explains the arresting officer left for the holiday. Sam looks back at Teresa who is sitting in the gallery. The ADA tells Fin and Amaro when the arresting officer gets back, he will speak with him, reminding Fin that Sam was arrested while on parole – end of story. The ADA goes back to the judge and continues with the charges, asking for remand. The judge grants it. Sam’s son Dante shouts out to his father as they take him off, and then tells Fin his father did not do this. Fin says he knows he did the right thing this time, and Dante asks Fin to promise he’ll get him out. Fin does not answer.

Afterwards, Teresa speaks with Fin and Amaro, saying all that Dante wanted for Christmas was his father. Amaro says they are working on it. She says Sam was just trying to help the priest but Fin reminds her Sam is on parole, you don’t jump in, you call 911. Teresa leaves to go home, and Fin says the ADA is not going to take their word for it. Amaro says they have to find the 2 guys that assaulted Fr. Shea and wonders if Sofia saw something.

At St. Horatio’s Church, Benson and Amaro speak with Monsignor Menendez who says the church is shrinking and they needed Fr. Shea elsewhere. He brings out Margarita who says Fr. Shea gave presents to all the parish kids, he loves kids. Sofia is 9 and Sofia has known him for years. Amaro explains Fr. Shea may have been inappropriate with Sofia. But she says that is ridiculous and when Amaro says the men that beat him up called Fr. Shea a pedophile, she says they are wrong. She says Sofia’s biological father was never around and they have him all wrong. Benson says they still need to speak with Sofia and Margarita says she is very upset but will see if she is up to it. As Margarita walks off, Benson tells Amaro she has seen this before – a mother who doesn’t want to admit she put her child in danger so she denies, denies, denies. Amaro says everyone is in denial and sometimes people are just innocent. Benson asks if he is going to tell her that Margarita is not hiding something, and Amaro says they just don’t know what. He adds he is not protecting the Catholic Church if that’s what she is thinking. Benson says that is not what she said. He replies “yeah.” Margarita comes back out and says Sofia will talk to them but she wants to be in the room.

Benson and Amaro speak with Sofia about what happened to Fr. Shea. She explains she was in his car as she forgot to give him the card. She explains that Fr. Shea liked the card and gave her a hug. The men broke the window and Fr. Shea told her to run. The bad guys spoke Spanish and were wearing hoodies. The good guy was black and he tried to save Fr. Shea.

At the ME’s office, Warner tells Fin and Rollins they owe her for doing NYPD’s job and Fin says they always owe her. She is still running the DNA on Fr. Shea’s car but the blood traces are from 3 different males. The prints on the door handle match Adam Benitez who was convicted twice for assaulting registered sex offenders. Fin wonders if Benitez knows something they don’t. He says “Thank you Melinda” and she replies “Merry Christmas Detective Tutuola” with a slight smile.

At 125th Street & Lennox Avenue. Fin and Rollins try to find Benitez who is dresses as a Santa – and there are many Santas on the street. Fin calls out his name and Benitez looks up and then bolts. Rollins tackles him and Fin tells him he should have called his reindeer.

Back at SVU, Fin and Rollins question "Santa" Benitez and he explains he was abused when he was 8 and no one believed him which is why he goes after pedophiles. He says Fr. Shea was hugging her when “we” got there. He was there with a friend who says the priest “did his sister ugly” and heard he was home for the holidays and they were watching. When Fin asks if his friend has a name, Benitez asks if they are playing ”Let’s Make A Deal” Christmas edition, adding this would be a good time to call a lawyer.

Later, Fin and Rollins arrest Enrique Rodriguez while he is on the job. Rodriguez says Fr. Shea rapes little girls and he gets arrested? Rollins asks if he means his sister, and he says everyone knows and no one is doing anything. Fin puts him in the car and Rollins says they have their two suspects and it is time to call the ADA and get Sam out. Fin suggests they get Fr. Shea to ID them.

At the hospital. Fr. Shea is talking to the Monsignor, saying not this time. Amaro and Benson enter the room and Amaro asks if there is a problem. Fr. Shea says the Monsignor is just leaving and Benson asks “you too?” when she sees the plane ticket to Guatemala. The Monsignor says Fr. Shea wants to return to the orphanage. He says he is not pressing charges, but Amaro says he is still a witness and they need him to come to the station and make an ID. When the Monsignor says Fr. Shea was in a coma and is concussed, Amaro suggest they consult with the doctor to confirm if Fr. Shea is up for it.

Back at SVU, Amaro tells Benson the one way ticket to Guatemala was paid for by the archdiocese. Benson says Menendez wants Fr. Shea gone just like 10 years ago. Rollins adds they got Benitez’s statement and this should be enough for the ADA. Fin says that guy is covering his ass 6 ways to Sunday and they should get Enrique’s statement on video. He doesn’t want the ADA questioning it later.

Benson and Rollins question Rodriguez and video record the questioning. He explains his sister Angelica’s abuse when she was 12. She later started drinking and smoking pot. He found out about the abuse when Angelica came in stoned at Thanksgiving when she was supposed to be sober and he went off. She started crying and said he had never been there for her. He said “he” made her have an abortion when she was pregnant at 13. He never knew, and he thought he was in church all that time with Fr. Shea in counseling. He said the sick bastard said she seduced him – Fr, Shea said he would exorcise the demon of sex in her. When he saw Fr. Shea in the car with the little girl, he did what he should have done 10 years ago. Benson says if Angelica will corroborate the story and ID Fr. Shea it may help a jury to understand. Enrique does not want to put her through that, she is in rehab and is a mess. He asks if Fr. Shea is coming in to ID him, and Benson nods. He says to ask him.

Meanwhile, Rollins and Fin continue to argue with the ADA but he is still resistant. He says there is protocol, this is not their case. He adds maybe there is probable cause for the attack on the priest but there is still a parolee who went vigilante – assaulting anyone violates his parole. Fin says he knows. The ADA says if they want Sam released, Fr. Shea must ID his attackers just for “belts and suspenders.” Rollins explains they are pulling a line up now. He tells them to get that and they will talk.

At SVU, Fr. Shea looks at the line up but he says he does not want to send anyone to prison. Amaro reminds him about Sam Randall and that Sam may go to jail. He identifies Enrique by name, saying he was a parishioner of his. He says he will not testify against him, and Benson asks why is that, did he give him good reason to attack him? Fr. Shea says he deserves forgiveness, as they all do, they all make mistakes. Benson asks if that is what he calls what he did to Angelica. He seems shocked at her inference and says they have it wrong. Amaro says that is not what Enrique told them.

Later in an interrogation room, Benson and Amaro show Fr. Shea the video of Enrique explaining what happened to Angelica. Amaro and Amaro put the pressure on Fr. Shea and when Benson says they will bring in Sofia, he says they can’t. He cries and begs for God’s forgiveness.

Elsewhere, Fin and Rollins speak with Angelica who has an attitude. They explain Enrique’s arrest and she says she should have never told him where “the good father put his little bishop.” She says she is a dead girl walking but Enrique could still have a life. Fin says she can help him by testifying to her abuse and ID her abuser.

Back at SVU, Angelica is at the line up and she identifies #4 as Fr. Shea but he is not who abused her. She says it wasn’t him, and when Rollins puts her hand on her shoulder to calm her, Angelica pulls back and tells her not to touch her.

Meanwhile, Fr. Shea is in the holding cell and Amaro asks him to tell him what is going on. He says if Angelica won’t say it is not his place, she gave him her confession. Amaro says that is not an excuse to cover a crime. When Amaro asks why he was transferred out of St. Horatio’s, Fr. Shea said he sinned and broke his vows. He says it is not his story to tell.

Angelica tells Benson and Rollins that the priest said abortion was a sin but then murdered her baby. She said Fr. Shea tried to help her. She was bleeding after the baby was gone, Fr. Shea found her and she confessed what she did and who she did them with. It did not happen again. Benson asks who abused her, she is 22 and they can still put him away. Angelica does not know if she can do this, but Rollins mentions her brother’s situation. Benson assures her they will be with her every step of the way.

Amaro continues to speak with Fr. Shea, saying the men who beat him up were wrong and SVU was wrong. He did not molest Sofia but knows who did. Fr. Shea says he is bound by the seal of the confessional. Amaro continues to pressure him for justice, and asks how does he know the person he is protecting is still not molesting girls? Fr. Shea says he swore to him he wouldn’t. Fr. Shea continues to refuse to cooperate, he gave his word. Amaro asks why he is protecting him, and Amaro asks who matters so much to him …. and Amaro finally gets who it is. He says he is sorry and leaves the cell.

Amaro tells Benson she is right, Fr. Shea is hiding something. Benson says he is not guilty of the abuse, and Amaro says they have the wrong sin.

At St. Horatio’s Church, Benson and Amaro speak with Margarita and explain that Fr. Shea can’t – or won’t – defend himself and if he tells the truth someone innocent will get hurt. Amaro mentions his own daughter and sometimes when her mood changes he sees himself. Margarita cries and Benson asks if Sofia knows who her father is, and Margarita does not answer.

Back at SVU, Benson tells Fr. Shea that they spoke to Margarita and says she told them Sofia is his daughter. He says he spent 10 years making sure that was kept secret for Sofia’s sake but Margarita confessed to Menendez and told him how much in love they were. After Angelica came to him he went to Menendez and he asked to hear his confession and Menendez told him what he did to her. He said it was a onetime weakness. Amaro says once he confessed he was bound by the vows of confession. Benson said that is still not good enough. He put other girls in jeopardy, and when Fr. Shea says Menendez swore it would not happen again, Benson comments “and you believed him?” She adds that pedophiles are gifted liars. Fr. Shea says he left his daughter at the parish and Margarita kept her eye on him and once a year he comes in to take his confession for a decade and does not believe he has hurt anyone else. Benson asks if that is how he sleeps at night, and he comments who says he does. Amaro says he broke the law, he has a legal obligation to report the abuse and he is just as guilty. He says he understands. He also understands he has to testify against Menendez. Amaro says his transgression will come out and he should tell Sofia himself.

Angelica later tells Enrique that it wasn’t Fr. Shea and said he never said who it was. She was afraid he would go after him. Angelica tells Rollins that he got the wrong priest and they should let Enrique go. Rollins explains that is not how it works. Angelica tells Enrique she is sorry and she cries. He says if he would have looked out for her in the first place this would have never happened,

Back at SVU, Fin is on the phone telling Teresa he knows it is Christmas Eve, he is trying. Rollins asks if Teresa hung up on him and he says old habits die hard. Teresa doesn’t seem to think he is doing everything he can, but he has an idea.

At the home of Judge Peter Harrison, Fin asks him to sign a conditional release for Sam. The judge says it is not his problem but Fin reminds him it is Christmas Eve and he knows Sam is innocent. He says he will keep him handcuffed to him if he wants. The judge’s grandson walks up and the judge tells him to get his reading glasses and asks for the papers. He tells Fin that Sam is his responsibility and wishes him a Merry Christmas. Fin says the same.

Back at SVU, Amaro tells the others that Fin called, Sam is free and on his way home. Benson calls it a Christmas miracle, and Amaro adds she will make her flight. She says she is not going anywhere until they get a warrant for Menendez from Judge Harrison. Amaro tells her to go, he has this. She says she can’t. When she still resists, he pulls out her purse from her desk drawer and hands her the cell phone and keys and says this is his Christmas gift. She says “really?” and he replies “really” as he helps her put on her coat. She replies she wants jewelry next year. She reminds him she will have her phone with her and won’t turn it off, and he tells her to enjoy. She tells him Merry Christmas and they share a hug. She runs off.

At Teresa’s home, Fin brings in Sam to see his son. Rollins is there and when she says she is going home, they insists she join them.

At the church, Angelica sees Monsignor Menendez who is getting ready for Mass, putting his arm around a young girl as they walk into church. Fr. Shea also arrives with Margarita and Sofia.

At Teresa’s home, they all sit around the table as Fin pours the wine.

Amaro knocks on Judge Harrison’s door who is annoyed when he answers. Amaro apologizes, saying they want to pick him up tonight. The judge says one condition – let him finish Mass. He signs the warrant.

Benson, on a plane, hears from Amaro that he got the warrant, saying it is great news. A man sitting next to her  – his hand and only part of his arm visible - places his hand over to Benson and she smiles back.

Amaro checks his phone and waits outside the church while the churchgoers exit. Gunshots ring out, and everyone scatters as Amaro races up the church steps. He sees Monsignor Menendez laying on the ground, dead, shot in the chest. Amaro picks up a gun and then pulls two men off Angelica who are holding her to the ground. He tells her he was here to arrest him. She says it is too late. As he cuffs Angelica and she looks at Menedez's dead body, we fade to black.

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Icy said...

It wasn't a woman's hands, Second it was Danny Pino's hand that was holding onto Liv's. Mariska last month tweeted a photo of her and Danny from inside of the plane. He was just filling in for the actor. The hand belongs to Pino.

Third, I think the man is either Barba or Haden. Although I want it to be stabler that ain't happening.

The episode was a big weak, I can't still look at Danis O'hare after him playing Russell Edgington on True Blood.

I do wonder if there is something going on between Fin and Amanda

xfool said...

I've watched SVU since day one and in my opinion, this was the worst episode in many seasons. Are they intentionally trying to dumb this show down? Are they trying to appeal to the shippers, thinking this is their fan base? If I didn't know better, I'd say they are trying to attract a teen audience.

As far as the "mystery" hand, it doesn't matter if the hand was really Danny Pino's. The whole point is that they want viewers to believe Benson is in a serious relationship and is happy. What does bother me is that they only show the hand so they don't have to worry about actually casting a REAL love interest for her, someone that the fans can either give the thumbs up or thumbs down on. This is their cheap, inexpensive, and LAZY way of giving her a relationship without the bother of having to cast someone for the role and pay the actor, or put some thought into writing the character, or take criticism from the fans on their choice (or all of the above). SVU is becoming a very cheap, bargain basement production and it is starting to show. No offense to Warren Leight, I think he's done well to revive a dying horse but IMO he only has so much money to work with. And it shows.

Hated the Christmas music. The story was very weak. This was a low point for the season.

Icy said...

@Xfool- You're taking this too seriously, every show has a few dull episodes. They aren't being cheap at all with any production.

Stop blaming Warren,he's not to blame. The show is getting older,but I don't think he's at all ruining SVU.

They aren't being lazy on Liv's relationships. It's a good writing tactic, to keep viewers minds going.

It's done in a lot of shows, actually it makes Fans think. It doesn't have to be a relationship but something else, but it's a creative way to leave it up to the viewers imaginations. The writers can't explain everything, they leave it up to us for our own interpretation.

It's actually good writing. I've seen this before, anything that makes one think actually makes the episode better.

As long as Liv's happy why should we care. She deserves to be happy.

I disagree- They are not trying to attract a teenage audience. Believe me, it would be filled with no talented actors and racy storylines.

Sorry I can't agree with you, blaming the EP is just an excuse.

I think he's has vitualized the show, the show needs to be put back at 10pm.

The ratings were actually much higher this week.

english2791 said...

I can't believe Barba would wear that but then we never see him dressed down.

Catherine said...

This episode was one of the worst. The writing was just terrible but that seems to be par for the course these days.
There are two big problems that need to be brought up. The first is the existence of Sam Randall. Given his name, we assume he is Teresa's brother. But in Screwed, Fin clearly stated that his ex-wife only had one younger sister. And both of her parents were dead, so who were the old couple at the dinner table? The writers really need to get their act together and not rewrite SVU history.
The other issue comes out during Fr. Shea's interrogation. He was told he had a legal obligation to the abuse. But in New York, a priest is not a mandated reporter. He was not required to report what Angelica told him. And he couldn't testify against Menendez about anything said under the seal of the confessional. In New York, that testimony would only be allowed if the penitent waves the privilege. If you are going to write for Law & Order, you really need to do the research.

Kyleigh said...

I agree with you. This wasn't one of my favorite episodes either and I found myself tuning out near the middle of it. It just wasn't that good.

MrTanokki said...

Personally, I liked this episode, at least more than the season 13 episodes. It felt more like a season 1 episode. Sure, the formula was a bit off, Benson's "screw you" line was bizarre, and there still wasn't any Munch. But seeing a more human side to the characters, Fin's family back, Benson actually having a relationship, Warner actually being on screen for more than a total of 40 seconds, Amaro not being pointlessly angry; that made it worth it. And hey, it's still better than Blue Bloods or NCIS LA!

Unknown said...

I've come out of lurking to put in my 2 cents. I am not opposed to episodes that go off formula, but only if the story is solid and the reason why they go off formula makes sense for the series and the characters. This one did not. Some fans are happy to see the lead characters have real lives, however, blending SVU and Christmas together didn't work for me. The most jarring was Warner and Fin. Really, all of a sudden she seems like she's hot for him?

The "mystery hand" was a transparent ploy to stir up the shippers and and fanfic writers. When producer(s)/writers(s) start catering to these people to get ratings, the series is on its way out. (It happened with "House" with the House/Cuddy shippers.) It also tells me the writers are running out of creative ideas and think that catering to fan gurls and fan boys they will get more viewers. (It usually does not work.) I bet ATLAO's "man hands" comment will get those Benson/Cabot shippers going!

But let's get to the heart of it - the SVU story wasn't good. The personal story line scenes were stiff and painfully forced, and the chance for real acting was non-existent. This was the first episode where, with the exception of Denis O'Hare and maybe Danny Pino, every one else phoned it in. I have to agree that this ep had more bad than good in it, I hope it is not an indication of what is coming for the rest of the season. If it is, SVU will be off my watch list.

. said...

Until this episode I have been mute about this, but I'm DONE staying silent and SVU fans can get mad at me all they want BUT THIS NEEDS TO BE SAID:

Warren Leight is RUINING SVU, I thought Neal Baer's outlandish episodes were bad, oh hell no, this is 1,000 times WORSE! No wonder SVU ranks below #3 scripted series on NBC, Leight is writing crappy episodes and using personal storylines and it's blurring lines on this show.

Season 13 was really no better, (exceptional episodes were "Scorched Earth", "Personal Fouls", "Spiraling Down", "Father's Shadow", "Justice Denied", "Valentine's Day", "Learning Curve", and "Rhodium Nights") the ONLY good thing about season 14 is Leight casting Raul Esparza as ADA Barba - THE ONLY GOOD THING IMO!

The episodes suck under Warren Leight, he is not blameless. I'm going to do everything I can to get Warren Leight off of SVU for season 15 (if renewed, it'll take God to touch somebody's heart at NBC)!

Another thing, if Leight has this need to write Criminal Intent-formula episodes, why didn't he/Dick Wolf spin-off LOCI at the end of season 10? I'm TIRED of the "eyes of the criminal" scenes and lack of courtroom drama - he's got Raul Esparza and we see him for like 10-15 minutes and he's gone.

I think I want Neal Baer back, as long as he straightens up! No monkey's in basketballs, people drinking alchol through their a**es, or Liv acting like a slut to save another cop's a** "Are you ready for me daddy?!" BLECH!


. said...

And another thing, Leight is a liar (like Neal Baer was) and only cares about his characters/actors/past projects, I tweeted him one night about if Cabot or Novak were coming back, he had the nerve to tweet me they don't want to. Diane Neal ALWAYS tweets that she'll come back if she's asked. Stephanie March said to one fan she was ready to come back!

I'm sorry ATL&O, everybody else can like Leight, but I don't. Why in the world did Dick Wolf bring this man to SVU? Walon Green would have been a better pick, at least he was consistent with the crappy season 8 (G/E) & 9 LOCI episodes!

And another thing, I'm tired of Leight acting like Stabler (Meloni) didn't exist before - I know Meloni's gone but man damn, Leight acts like SVU fans have a "brain erase switch" or something for Stabler. And now we seem have these random men (ADA Haden, defense attorney Bayard Eliss, Det. Brian Cassidy, Amaro on the sly, and some unknown man) as seemingly on-screen shipping pairs for Liv. I really don't give two craps about who Liv's dating - long as he's treating her right.

I care about the cops, the DAs, and the victims. Why can't Leight focus on the L&O style formula SVU used to have?! This episode fired me up last night, I'm sorry, but if Leight continues to stay on Law & Order: SVU, I hope it's canceled. I'm sorry.

I hate the day NBC decided to cancel mothership Law & Order - seems like the franchise has been going down since. Dick Wolf should be ashamed; Chicago Fire is getting better treatment from him & NBC while SVU is getting a raw deal under Leight's supervision.

Like I said, I'm going to do what I can to get Warren Leight off of SVU.


nygma619 said...

"Some fans like to see their favorite SVU characters in real life situations, but I am not one of them. I don’t mind a little personal story line here and there, but the holiday themed subplots in this episode were overkill."

In what ways? Suddenly because the episode shows their personal lives it's cause to write it off? Are die hard law and order fans REALLY this shallow?
There's been worse melodrama with the characters personal lives, like any episode involving Olivia's brother.

"And let’s not even go there with what seemed to be going on with Fin and ME Warner."

Yeah I think your reading WAY TOO MUCH into that.

"I also didn’t care for the ending where Benson is flying off to her vacation with a mystery companion, of which we only saw a hand and part of an arm. Was this a bone to throw to shippers to get them talking and/or to fuel their hopes that it was Elliott? Was it a woman with "man hands?" Or, is Benson now dating “Thing” from the Addams Family? I found the scene laughable."

No it was a bone to throw to ANYONE to get them to keep watching to see what happens in someones story line next. I think you've become too jaded by "shippers" and seem to have forgotten about the simplicity of television. Sometimes a mystery like this gets people to come back.

nygma619 said...

"I've watched SVU since day one and in my opinion, this was the worst episode in many seasons."

Really? Worse than Zebras, Spectacle, Bully, Delinquent, or Father Dearest? Those episodes are FAR worse. This while bad, at least didn't make me bang my head into the keyboard from its stupidity like the above did.

"Are they intentionally trying to dumb this show down? Are they trying to appeal to the shippers, thinking this is their fan base? If I didn't know better, I'd say they are trying to attract a teen audience."

Not that I think they are trying to, BUT it's not like the law and order purists who people like to claim are out there in large droves have lit ratings on fire in these last few years for ANY law and order show. No, this is more about trying different approaches. And after being on tv for more than 13 seasons, sometimes that is what it takes.

Anyways I thought this episode was terrible but for different reasons. I'll be honest I found the christmas mush to be more interesting than the actual case which was so convuluted that I found it unbelievable. The christmas stuff at least added a touch of humanity to a show that has felt so by the books and homogenized for a while.

The biggest offender IMO (besides the scene at the end where the priest was shot) was the idiot ada. I could write paragraphs about the mistakes he made, but a lawyer who blogs about the show (allison leotta), said everything I wanted to:

"The ADA got a lot wrong, even for a rookie on his first holiday assignment. The most glaring problem was that, at the detention hearing, he didn’t turn over Enrique’s confession. Major mistake, one for which he could get disbarred! At the detention hearing, Ice-T ran in and handed the ADA the confession. The ADA scoffed, then turned to the judge and argued to keep Sam in jail. In real life, a prosecutor is obligated to turn over Brady material – that is, evidence that the defendant didn’t commit the crime charged. This is especially important at a detention hearing, where the defendant’s very liberty is at stake. For all his self-righteousness, this ADA made one of the most serious errors a prosecutor can make.

Moreover, even after it was clear that Sam was only a Good Samaritan who stopped the real assailants, the ADA kept pressing charges against Sam, arguing that touching anyone else violated Sam’s probation. The ADA was wrong. There is a legal doctrine called “defense of others” – which is like “self-defense,” except when you’re saving someone’s life besides your own. Sam was legally allowed to pull the crazed Enrique off Father Shay. If touching someone violated Sam’s probation, that was something the Probation Board should take up – not the criminal courts."

I know a case on this show is bad, when I find the personal lives to be more interesting at the end than the actual case.

Oh, and the hand belongs to Brian Cassidy I'm thinking.

. said...


PLEASE! SVU is deplorable now, I can not stand to hear the NBC dude say how something puts SVU in a life changing situation when the series is now 45 minutes of boredom, I actually await the commercials/ads, I find them more interesting to watch than the episodes themselves.

Warren Leight needs to go. I'm sorry, but he needs to go. Dick Wolf should be ashamed, but he's not, he's got Chicago freakin' Fire now. He's making that bank with it more so than SVU.

SVU was dismal last night, it's been that way all season.


nygma619 said...

@. If your going to respond how about giving reasons WHY you think something is horrible instead of just saying it is because "I SAY SO!"

AND before you respond I already READ your above comments. This show's survival IS NOT going to be dependent on quality alone. Or has tripe like Two and a half men getting high ratings not taught you and everyone else anything these last few years. Ratings=/=quality, time to face facts, the law and order formula is stale and is in need of something more to reinvigorate it.

lois said...

I am the SVU newb(only started watching the end of S13), so don't have as much experience as the rest of you.
Unlike the author, I like shows that show the personal lives of the characters, so I enjoyed this episode. As far as Olivia, this was the 1st episode where I did not DESPISE her, so that was an improvement for me. Usually her misrable face is enough to make me scratch my eyes out- it was nice to see her in a good mood for once.
I don't think SVU is the best show on TV these days(I only watch for Pino), but I didn't think this EP was awful.
I am far from a teenybopper, but do use Tumblr, and yeah, all they worry about is hooking up Liv with someone(mainly Amaro or Stabler). But, since the cherished audience is the younger generation, it wouldn't surprise me that the show would try to cater to them a bit

Jeannette said...

1) This episode was NOT the worst episode. That honor(s) goes to Wet, Dirty, and Avatar

2) There may have been a picture of Mariska and Danny in the plane set but I don't think that was Danny's hand on screen. Danny's hand is darker than what was onscreen. Danny could've been on the set and posed, but not acted.
My bet: David Haden.
It's not Elliot- in case you forgot- he's married and he's gonna stay married to Kathy

3) I do really enjoy the scene where Fin's ex wife Teresa insisted that Amanda stays and celebrate

4) Speaking of Terry's family, in Screwed, my theory is that Fin was thinking of any suspicious family members who could've raped his ex (her father was the one; plus she had a ' funny' Uncle) and Sam's "MO" wasn't molesting- it was more drugs or robbery- no sexual out-of-the-box behavior.
I also don't believe that those elderly folks were the parents. Maybe Terry/Sam's Aunt and Uncle? As I recall, Dante's mother was a no show. Where's Dante's mom? So the elderly couple (the lady was also in court, sitting next to Dante) could be Dante's mother's parents?

. said...


You say the Law & Order formula is dead, then why the hell did Law & Order last 20 years on television? - You can't rectify this with a believable response either without a hint of denial being in it.

L&O would be here a 21st season if NBC, TNT, and Dick Wolf weren't so damn stupid.

Leight needs to leave SVU immediately before this season does take a nose dive. Watch next weeks episode crash in the ratings, partially because other network's series are returning. Chicago Fire does 10x better than SVU, I actually hope the series is canceled if Leight continues this.

ANOTHER THING I'M SICK AND TIRED OF: EVERY WEEK IS A NEW CONSPIRACY! When is this going to end, is this whole season about secrets and conspiracies - Leight needs to go and go NOW like Neal Baer did in 2011.

I'm sorry to anyone who feels otherwise, but this is MY opinion and I'm sticking with it!

nygma619 said...


"You say the Law & Order formula is dead, then why the hell did Law & Order last 20 years on television? - You can't rectify this with a believable response either without a hint of denial being in it."

I said it was stale, NOT DEAD. Please learn to read. As to why it lasted 20 years, alot of that had to do with sheer luck, and many other variables for many shows that last that long. If you don't believe that your the one in denial.

"L&O would be here a 21st season if NBC, TNT, and Dick Wolf weren't so damn stupid."

Yeah how dare they cut a show that had become to expensive to produce, and had little justifiable upside to stay on the air. That's the way business is sometimes.

"Chicago Fire does 10x better than SVU"

I think your the one in denial if you think that statement is true.

"ANOTHER THING I'M SICK AND TIRED OF: EVERY WEEK IS A NEW CONSPIRACY! When is this going to end, is this whole season about secrets and conspiracies"

That's pretty much life's fire, thinking about the unknown.

"I'm sorry to anyone who feels otherwise, but this is MY opinion and I'm sticking with it!"

That's fine, but if you think your rants are going to change ANYTHING, I've got ocean front property in Iowa to sell you.

. said...

I don't care, if Leight keeps this up, majority of diehard fans are gone - maybe even ATL&O - but shippers will enjoy it.

Not all shows are built around an audience for shipping characters. Can you imagine Goren and Eames dating on LOCI - it wouldn't work unless Goren or Eames quit MCS!


Linda F. said...

Re: the hand, it definitely looked like a man's to me, but I don't believe it was Danny Pino's (not that it matters whose hand it was, I guess). His hands are larger, his fingers longer and more elegant, and in the photo on Twitter ( he was wearing a short-sleeved flowered shirt, not a long-sleeved checked shirt.

As far as the episode itself, not my favorite one, but I didn't think it was awful. Then again, I'm not watching it with the baggage of longtime fans, since I've only watched it this season and last. Confusing, yes--I lost track of what was going on a couple of times. But I thought Danny Pino and Denis O'Hare really shone out of the cast.

nygma619 said...

@. "I don't care, if Leight keeps this up, majority of diehard fans are gone - maybe even ATL&O"

Well Chris is still here, and I'm sure the blog is not going anywhere; ditto for others like you and xfool.

"Can you imagine Goren and Eames dating on LOCI - it wouldn't work unless Goren or Eames quit MCS!"

Who said any of the main characters on any of these shows are dating? Or have been, or even will be?

Oh and on another note pertaining to the case, along with the moronic ada; Sam's attorney wasn't that far off. If I were in that attorney's shoes, and two cops came in announcing they had evidence pertaining to my clients innocence, I damn well would be asking them about it myself.

For all the crying people seem to do about this episodes faults, (wahhhh, the personal lives and shippers are ruining this show, wahhhh). I find it shocking that the awful case material has gone unnoted.

fiona12 said...

I must be in a small crowd, because I enjoyed this episode. Denis O'Hare was great; I just finished watching him in American Horror Story so it was neat seeing him play good guy rather than creepy villain lol. I also got a bit confused with the story closer to the end, but the episode held my attention and kept me interested.

I like seeing the personal side to the characters, and the Christmas theme wasn't too sappy. I'm not learned in the US legal system, so I can't comment on any inaccuracies with ADAs, procedure, etc. Mostly I don't read too much into all that, I mean it's just a tv show. I've seen every SVU episode and some of the things Leight has introduced aren't my favorite (e.g. the loooong openings). However, I can understand that a fresh take is probably needed to bring in new viewers and shake things up a bit for a show that's been on the air this long.

All in all, I like SVU for the characters, stories, and that it has a strong female lead. IMO, one benefit for Stabler departing is that the stories have more of a Benson slant rather than focusing more exclusively on the male lead character. Most of the personal storylines always involved Stabler's family, so I like that we get to see Benson's life outside the job. And, I'm hoping the mystery "friend" on Liv's vacation was Haden because Harry Connick Jr is awesome and I'd love to see him back on the show! :)

nat ford said...

Silly point but Father Shea said he spent 10 years trying to keep his secret, but Sofia only looked about 6... Or am I crazy?

Ry A said...

Sam Randall said the girl was about 8 or 9. I guess she was just a small 10 year old :)

It was a terrible episode though, I have to agree.

janethyland said...

Great episode and great ratings.
Controversy is good for the blood.
Love what they are doing with story and character.

JS Mc said...

Oh well, as said before, "To each his/her own"...I personally liked this episode! I like seeing the backgrounds/personal lives of the characters. They used to REALLY show Stabler's family and I heard/read no complaints then...I wonder WHY?
I liked that they finally wrote a "Christmas themed" episode. Holidays do happen so why not incorporate them in the themes...I love to see Danny happy with his beautiful little daughter, Fin's family all together like most families are at the holidays, Liv finally smiling & in love (Regardless who it's with, Brian, Barba, David or El)...LOL
To me it was just kind of a 'feel good' episode written to make the audience's spirits happy as should be at this 'special' time of the year!
We all have our opinions and are entitled to them. Respect is the key and I really enjoyed the up-lifting and joyous feeling this episode presented. Kudos to Warren, the writers, actors & crew! I for one fan, enjoyed it!

CLA said...

@ Fiona

You may be in the minority here Fiona. But on the official website of the series in more than 600 comments, 90% found the episode good. It was not the best episode of the season, but it was good. I do not understand why some people cling to details: do not like the music, why bother showing scenes from the characters' personal lives, (a few seconds), go behind interpretations of the law to the letter, etc.. They forget that SVU is entertainment. Even based on actual events, the series is fiction. Since we have to solve a crime, I do not care when they show scenes of the characters' personal lives. They are human beings, not machines.
I think this is the best season for last 5 years. WL has done a fantastic job. And I loved that scene from the hands of Olivia with her boyfriend likely. Served to ignite the imagination of fans. Who doubts I invite you to take a peek at the official website of SVU.
SVU lost viewers over the past two seasons. I think more for the longevity of the show. Less by the absence of Meloni. 14 years in the Air is not for everyone. SVU is still strong and shows breath for another season. I'm optimistic.

ConnorBehan said...


How exactly do you plan on getting some influence over whether Warren Leight stays on SVU? I agree that he lies... March and Neal both stated that they would be excited to appear in the courtroom together and Warren Leight tweeted that he couldn't do this because of "budget issues". In season 13, March had 7 episodes and Neal had 4. I'm no TV executive but wouldn't it cost approximately the same to give them 6 and 3 separate episodes and one together? He was clearly just trying to dismiss the request.

I actually liked the opening. Small hints about it being Christmas I didn't mind, Lisa Gay Hamilton was a nod to continuity and the case was set up well I think. Purely "saving Fin's family member" is dumb so I liked the fact that there was a priest in a car with a girl. This added some plausible way to make it an SVU case. The ending however was unbelievably bad.

Benson: The only way Mendez can possibly be arrested is if I miss my flight and stay in New York and arrest him tonight.

Amaro: Believe it or not, other people work at the SVU who can arrest him while you're gone.

Benson: REALLY?! That is so cool! Thank-you so much for letting me know that. Call me when you arrest him. I will have my iPhone turned on even though that is against the rules of the airline I'm using.

And the "let's piss off Andre Braugher fans" hand gimmick was well below the calibre of SVU. I know ratings =/= quality but the great thing about SVU 1.0 was that it still prioritized quality anyway. My four least favourite SVU episodes are:

1. Russian Love Poem
2. Closure 1
3. Dreams Deferred
4. Presumed Guilty

ConnorBehan said...

And to clarify, I don't hate "the idea" of having Benson date an anonymous person. Her mention of "a friend" at the beginning was FINE. WL should've been content with that and not included the hand.

Oh well. I'm spending way too much time analyzing a show that I won't be watching for much longer anyway.

Chris Zimmer said...

Connor - funny you mention Andre. When I first saw the hand scene, I thought, "Well, at least we know who Benson is NOT seeing!"

Katie Lee said...

This isn't SVU anymore. It's Criminal Intent. Yes, the writing has improved from vodka soaked tampons and monkeys in basketballs, but it's so boring. The fanbase now mostly consists of 16 year old fangurls wanting to see Mariska make out with someone. Warren, his staff, and the actors on the show no longer care about what the show is supposed to be about. Sex crimes. Seeking justice for victims. Helping survivors. This show is a terrible joke, and only a shadow of what it once was in the first 5 or 6 seasons. Whoever said Stephanie March wanted to come back, no, she has never said she wants to come back. Diane Neal would come back for free, but Stephanie has never mentioned wanting to reappear on this trainwreck. Re the hand: heaven forbid anybody wanted it to be a female's hand. The 13 year olds had a hissy fit. This fandom is full of hypocritical, homophobic people that don't even have any concern about any other people; which is just the opposite of what the show is supposed to be about.

Joshua Morton said...

(Part 1) Been a LONG time since I've been here at this blog, but apparently this episode hasn't gotten just to me either - I haven't seen it, I'm judging from reading Chris's recap & review (Thank you)!

This episode seems like it was a train wreck with personal stuff and the case itself as well. The way the story is told, it's like something from Law & Order: Criminal Intent - surprise surprise look at who SVU's showrunner is. I can just imagine Denis O'Hare's performance in this, top notch I'm sure!

I mostly want to talk about SVU under Warren Leight. I admit, I like how Leight seems to be tapping into the roots of SVU's first season, but at the same token he's fusing episodes with the formula of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which I found to be dull at times and I'm a diehard fan of LOCI (well the L&O brand in general). As a diehard of SVU, I must say season 14 is really a disappointment for me on some level and I enjoy it much on another level.

It's disappointing because Warren Leight is falling into the same groove Neal Baer did in his last couple of seasons. On Twitter Leight seems to be playing with the shippers more than the diehards (I was following Leight when he had only 200 followers and was on Lights Out, Leight and I often tweeted - me: @JoshMortonCI - I tweet WL NOW, I don't get a response... he hasn't responded to a tweet of mine since before the season started and here it is 2013.

But I see he tweets shippers and certain fans of both the series and his everyday or every other one. Fans of former characters (Stabler, Cabot, Novak, Ellis, Haden,) he frequently dismisses them, and while he's free to do as he chooses with his Twitter page - he IS the producer of a high-rated [for NBC] scripted drama; common courtesy goes a long way! Leight, like Baer, seems to be appealing to shippers wants/needs, except unlike Baer, he's more blunt about it.

Frankly, I'm a stickler for the L&O formula, ESPECIALLY on SVU, and last year Leight was in certain episodes; after what Baer did when he was running the series - I thought Leight was going to keep focus on actual SVU crimes: sexual assaults, crimes against children/elderly/disabled, LGBT/hate crimes, you know... I guess Leight is choosing otherwise.

Joshua Morton said...

(Part 2)

The cases and storylines this season are truly fit for Law & Order: Criminal Intent (which USA Network was foolish to let go, Dick Wolf needed to kick out some extra $$$$ that we all know he has)! This CI-formula makes SVU episodes dull and lag on too long with certain scenes, especially interrogation scenes. These dull scenes could be used to fill with courtroom drama/banter with cops/judges/defense attorneys/etc. and ADA Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza). Personal drama also was a big on LOCI in it's mid seasons, which it worked well on CI; Vincent D'Onofrio, Chris Noth, Kathryn Erbe, and Julianne Nicholson/Alicia Witt proved themselves to be stellar actors/actresses on CI between seasons 6&7! Best/notable episodes of LOCI IMO were in this time period under Leight. Leight stuck to the CI-formula (w/o an ADA sadly) but fused it with the perfect percent of drama. Wish I could say the same about SVU.

When I saw people trying to trend #WhosBangingBenson / #TheHand - I wanted to BANG MY HAND into my computer screen! I agree, we do need SOME personal drama on SVU, but I'd rather see it fused into the cases, not Liv's bedroom. Let's see Liv's man for like 5 minutes and move focus back to the case, same about Rollins's sister and Nick's wife - it's just like when Neal Baer was writing episodes involving "Stabler family drama", that crap got sickening, just like the Benson/Stabler drama. Shipping is fine, but this is SVU, not NCIS or Blue Bloods! It does appear Leight is trying to appeal to a younger audience in doing this.

Leight needs to drop the Criminal Intent formula style writing, focus more on cases SVU would actually solve, STOP with constant/lagging personal life drama (let it be 5 minutes or so and move on), and get SVU back into the courtroom.

The major high point of season 14; Assistant District Attorney Rafael Barba (Raul Esparza), I find myself personally liking his character as much (if not more) as Cabot & Nova (Stephiane March & Diane Neal). Barba brings something to SVU that it hasn't had in a long time, and that is the DA keeping tabs on the unit and making sure the cases get to court w/o error on the cops's part (or the victim's as we saw in "25 Acts"). Esparza comes off to me like Linus Roache or Michael Moritarty, he's got this energy that just makes you pay attention and listen to what he has to say (even though he talks fast). PLUS he's a good fit with the SVU cast and it's just that, he is a HE, not a she who looks good in heels (every female ADA cast after Michaela McMannus, exclude March & Neal). I truly hope Leight decides to keep Barba after season 14 (if renewed a 15th).

But right now, I'm wishing Leight would look back at freshman seasons of SVU and look at what he's doing now. Leight's episodes are better than Baer don't get me wrong, but there is a BIG difference between episodes in season 13 and this season. I don't want SVU canceled, but I'm not going to watch if these episodes continue to be in this fashion. And notice the only GOOD episodes IMO are the ones written by Leight and L&O vet writer/SVU EP Julie Martin; Kevin Fox I believe (right Chris?) wrote both "Friending Emily" and "Presumed Gulity" which says something as well; Fox needs to shape it up like Speed Weed in season 12 or go.

I love Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but I don't want it's formula fused with Law & Order: SVU's. But alas, like Stabler fans, there are the reruns if there is no immediate change... because if this continues, SVU has lost one of it's fans.

Joshua Morton said...

@Katie Lee

I partially agree with you Katie; SVU is a shadow of it's former self, and it's not good. Warren Leight and his writing crew need to get their priorities in order - shipping/personal drama is not one of them for this show. They want to do this, I suggest they tell Dick Wolf to get off of his $$$$$ and bring back Criminal Intent or spin another version of Criminal Intent off of SVU into another city. - Ratings are up, but only because of repeats on the big hitters, ABC & CBS.

Law & Order: SVU - 2.2/6 (18-49 age demo / % share) 7.73 (million total viewers).

I am very disappointed to learn this about SVU; the episodes, that's good about the ratings (I guess, crappy ep. gets good ratings, figures).

janethyland said...

This was one of the best constructed episodes ever,collaborative I suspect,and the most talked about...and now the highest ratings of the season. Final ratings were 2.2 key demo and 7.7million.

Congratulations. Keep doing what you are doing. It causes a great stir and a few heart attacks.

Nive interview with UK reporter and Danny Pino here.They all love what they do.

Linda F. said...

Maybe it's because I don't have anything to compare season 13 & 14 to, but I honestly don't see shipper-ism in these two seasons. I just see interesting cases, with some personal details about the main characters' lives thrown in occasionally. Yes, some of the episodes aren't great for sure, but you can say that about any show. Even Mad Men, one of my favorites, has had some real clunkers.

I do have to take exception to this description of people who are fans of the show as it is now: "The fanbase now mostly consists of 16 year old fangurls wanting to see Mariska make out with someone."

I'm as far from a 16-year-old as can be (in fact, I could be the 16-year-old's grandma, much as I hate to admit it). I know a ton of people who watch SVU and they cover a whole range of ages, from my 83-year-old dad to co-workers in their 20s-50s. And I can't think of a single person (including me) who gives a fig who Mariska makes out with.

Yes, the younger fans tweet and post a lot, but I just think they're just more vocal, not representative of the many other people who watch and don't bother to broadcast their every thought about the show in real time.

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, Katie Lee, but I really think you've made an unfair characterization of the last two seasons' fans.

CLA said...

@ Linda

I agree with you in part. I am an ardent fan of SVU. Also I'm not a teenager. I watch SVU because of his good stories and not to see if this or that character is getting married or dating. I'm not one bit worried about Olivia's love life. However, even not very young people do have dreams and fantasies. If the show shows a little of the personal life of Olivia, Fin and Munch see no problem in wanting to see them happy. That side has soften a bit, a show marked by tragic and sad stories.

Linda F. said...

Oh, I agree with you, CLA. Like you said, this show has so much sadness and tragedy I like that being offset by some happy moments. I just meant that I don't breathlessly wait to see who Mariska's hooking up with.

I really enjoy the personal stories. To me, the best part of any show--and this one is no exception--is the characters. I much prefer a character-driven show to a procedure-driven or action driven one.

CLA said...

@ Linda

Comment perfect Linda. And SVU is a different drama. It's a series where the emotional and psychological aspect has great influence. Sexual crimes are so salient in the lives of victims. And also greatly influence the lives of the detectives. Some people complain because these detectives do not smile in their work. How to smile seeing so much tragedy, so much human evil? These rare moments when we see them happy, in touch with their families, are like a balm.
It was a pleasure to share ideas with an intelligent and well informed as you.

ConnorBehan said...

I like the show "going home" with the characters if it shows the effect that the SVU job has on their lives. You can see them doing different things to take their minds off of sex crimes. Or see that the job changes how they interact with people.

But showing a relationship for its own sake or because "the viewer wants a happy ending" I don't think is a good enough reason. That would reduce it to being a "typical" show.

Unknown said...

I just came in to say Dennis O'Hare was in at least 2 law and order svu episode's. He played a mental retarded man who raped an elderly woman who was robbed by 2 other men on the same day.