Follow Monsters of Television on Twitter

Wednesday, 22 of September of 2021

Tag » Law & Order

Law & Order – “Rubber Room”

A bomb threat is a serious matter. A union lawyer is more serious.”

That “Rubber Room” serves as the (probable) series finale for the Law & Order mothership is, for my money, a good thing. As an episode, it doesn’t hit that L&O bingo I’ve discussed before (no major guest stars or traveling around the city for what I feel is are industrial reasons I’ll get to in a moment), but it does strike that balance between procedural and character that I feel the show does so well. At the same time, “Rubber Room” still feels like the show hasn’t moved out of the late 90s while addressing contemporary issues.

All in all, it encapsulates a standard Law & Order episode, and I don’t think the show should’ve ended with anything else. I’ll give some thoughts about this as a finale at the end, but I still feel the episode itself needs to be addressed as a non-finale, not only since it wasn’t intended as such but because I feel like even an intended finale would still be just anotherL&O episode. Read more »

Law & Order – “Love Eternal”

Everybody’s lying except you?”

How do you make the spiral of the American economy make sense to the American people? Goodness knows that The Daily Show has tried every other week only to have Jon meet someone at Camera 3 and then give up in frustration. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense. And then Law & Order comes around and just nails it.

Instead of stocks and houses, it’s about comic books. And instead of mega-banks inflating their profits, it’s husbands trying to deflate their profits to keep money from their wives. What could be more accessible to American audiences than three semi-geeky guys trying to hide profits from their wives? Read more »

Law & Order Cancelled

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

chung CHUNG

Law & Order was cancelled today after 20 years on the air with 4 (soon to be 5) domestic spin-offs and a few international variations. The series will tie Gunsmoke as the longest running prime time drama at the end of this season. Certainly not the show that invented the procedural series, Law & Order nevertheless perfected it. Creator Dick Wolf’s goal to look at the development of a case from the police perspective and then to the lawyer perspective allows the show to essentially be a police procedural and a law procedural in one show. Drawing from shows like Dragnet and Trial and Arrest, the series never delved into the personal lives of its characters, one its signature narrative goals, something that most procedurals these days can’t live without. Read more »

Law & Order – “The Taxman Cometh”

She wanted to forget.”

Law & Order is a twisty show. Often there are red herring witnesses and suspects who do 180s at the drop of a hat. But the show will often also twist around a little too much, pull baits and switches, and bounces between ideas link a pinball. At this stage in the show’s run, it knows how to turn on a dime even if those turns feels a little unnecessary.

“The Taxman Cometh” is bogged down in these turns. It starts off as a case about an accidental overdose and turns into a case about alternative cancer treatments, tax loopholes and gay rights. Yes, that’s right. The becomes all three of those things, shifting between each of them as dictated by the plot. Read more »

Law & Order – “Crashers”

Stimulus money has gone to stimulust.”

Last time on Law & Order, I wrote about comedic guest stars on the show and why they may come to the franchise. It’s an idea I still really like, and would develop further given the time and money to pour through the various appearances such actors have made. This week I want to keep going with the guest star, but I want to talk about another facet of the guest star: the “Hey! I know that actor! And they’re not playing a defense attorney?  They did it.” mentality.

Yes, it’s true. The guest star can be a problem for the procedural. They suck all the narrative mystery out of a procedural because why would any show pay a fairly familiar face to just hang out and look cool in the background? They can pay someone scale (or slightly better) to do that! Instead, you pay that familiar face to draw audiences and/or have a powerful scene near the end of the show (to earn that Emmy). Read more »

Double Whammy: Conan on TBS and L&O:LA

In light of April being the cruelest month, I’m taking a small, academically mandated vacation for a couple of weeks. Reviews will still be posted by me (Nick will keep chugging along, I’m sure), just less consistently. I guarantee Lost and probably Doctor Who, but anything else will hinge entirely on my schedule and how well the final push of the semester goes. This week, for example, will be a little sparse. (Maybe HIMYM later in the week; I haven’t even watched the episode yet.)

To make up for it though, I’m giving you some brief thoughts on two things near and dear to my heart: Conan O’Brien and Law & Order. Read more »

Law & Order – “Brazil”

We deal with disagreements with emotional detachment and reason.”

I invented Law & Order bingo last night:

  • Ripped from the headlines story (often with an anvilicious message)
  • Mildly callous one-liner to kick off theme song
  • Special guest star looking for an Emmy nomination
    • BONUS: Special guest star is better known for comedic work, trying to prove their range/be taken seriously as a thespian (or the network is trying to pull in a different demographic)
  • Some tidbit about a character’s personal life is revealed
  • Show hits the Law & Order twist (red herrings, on the stand reversals, defense attorney shenanigans, etc.)
    • BONUS: Twist doubles the story back into another ripped from the headlines story
  • Schiff One Liner at the close of the episode

You see that? That’s the bingo arm of “Brazil” waving in the air.
Read more »

Law & Order – “Innocence”

Nothing personal, Mike. Now let’s see if you really did learn something from me.”

Mike may not have his BA, but he's still a badass

After the show came back from the Olympics, “Steel-Eyed Death” provided some character depth for Lupo while still remaining firmly rooted in its procedural aspects. The episode would’ve remained the same had Lupo’s history with violent crime scenes not been revealed. While it does give us a glimpse into Lupo’s life (as well as the limits of his relationship with Bernard), the formula remained in service of an overall crime narrative, not a character one.

This week the procedural aspects matter less than the character aspects. In particular, Cutter is given a significant degree of not only back story, but there are very real stakes in the episode due to the show’s tendency to drop characters with little warning (barring knowledge of non-diegetic dealings). Read more »

Law & Order – “Brilliant Disguise”

Maybe the thing to do here is to keep letting him think he’s clever.”

Last week it was horrorcore and oversaturation of violent media that were destroying America. This week it was graduate students that represent a threat to America’s moral fiber (thankfully, it was one from the social sciences, not the humanities (we’re harmless! (it’s why no one fears cutting our budgets…))).

The graduate student, while much maligned, isn’t exactly the villain of a 1990s period piece (we’re not paid enough to be really dangerous in any decade), like I discussed last week with the show. Instead, “Brilliant Disguise” offers an example of an idea that would’ve probably been better served by being on Criminal Intent instead of on Law & Order. This boils down to the differences in the two show’s formulas, and what characters and stories feel more at home on which show. Read more »

Law & Order – “Steel-Eyed Death”

“I think the show’s just starting.”

When Dollhouse got cancelled, and with USA shifting its schedule around, my Friday nights were going to be pretty dead (sorry, Caprica fans!). But Law & Order was on Fridays, so I decided to start tackling the old war horse when it came back from the Olympic break. When NBC said it would be moving to Mondays to cover for the widely mourned The Jay Leno Show, I wasn’t thrilled because it meant my Fridays would be really dead (resulting in me occasionally looking at Caprica).

I tuned in for both of Monday’s episodes in a mildly snarky mood. The promos drove home that Debra Winger was guest starring, to which I felt was a little silly since many in the post-Chuck audience wouldn’t know Debra Winger from a hole in the ground. As the episodes progressed, I realized that the show was still beholden to its 1990s heights. As Alisa and Max Dawson conversed with me over Twitter, we bandied about the rough idea of Law & Order as a ’90s period piece.

And I’m fairly certain that much of the time that’s exactly what the show is. Read more »