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norbizness

That show does need to go ahead and end, and take a few with it.

SAP

Actually, Lance, what happened to Jill Hennessy is one of the reasons I stopped watching L&O:

In 1996, as Kincaid was considering leaving the DA's office, she was killed when her car was struck by a drunk driver as she drove an inebriated Lennie Briscoe home from a bar. (The character was killed off when Hennessy decided to leave the show to pursue a movie career.) McCoy is still haunted by her death, as evidenced by his intense desire to prosecute drunk drivers in subsequent seasons. Kincaid was replaced by Jamie Ross (played by Carey Lowell).
Kevin Wolf

I think what we're seeing is a loss of confidence by the writers and Wolfe in the show's premise and characters. I think you're right, Lance.

It's too bad, when I think of how good the show was. Something went off kilter a couple of years ago and they nave not managed to regain their equalibrium. I don't bother catching new episodes of the original L&O anymore. Much of it is the casting.

SVU improved, actually, when they did a cast shake-up and broadened the storylines. And CI is smart and interesting and well cast, so I've more or less switch over to that one for my L&O fix.

BTW, Dick Wolf's name is Wolf, not Wolfe. In a lifetime of telling people that same thing, I guess I'm a tad sensitive.

MoXmas

See, Sam Waterston is a fine actor, but the character of Jack McCoy has been the problem with the show for a long while. He basically has few morals, except revenge. That played off the Kincaid character nicely for a good long while. And when the first DA -- Schiff - was in charge it kept the character's basic immorality under control. The problem was that season when he was brought in front of the ethics committee. He probably should have been disbarred. When he wasn't, it made it hard to think of him as any kind of moral crusader, and it brought the show from Kennedy-style liberalism to sort of a James Ellroy-light. The cops and lawyers aren't good people, but they are OUR bad people.

It made the Angie Harmon ADA completely intolerable, along with the current DA, because they have used those characters to try and make McCoy seem more law-abiding and pleasant than he actually is.

The procedural pattern of the show has helped to mask how conservative the current cast is, but the reappearance of the Richard Brooks character pointed it out starkly.

ersatz

As far as I'm concerned, D'Onofrio/Goren has to be considered the new Jack McCoy in terms of acting power / emotional impact.

The Green Knight

Cheers is the only other show I can think of, comedy or drama, that made its characters' off-camera lives more vivid by not showing them and only allowing us hints.

Three letters: C. S. I.

But in general you're right. And yeah, I gave up on L&O a long time ago for the very reasons you mention.

Jaquandor

Don't watch ER either. That show has descended to such a level of self-parody that it's almost shocking. Their cliffhanger this year was so over the top that it reminded me of Dynasty's infamous Moldavian Wedding Massacre.

Campaspe

I will always say that the juice went out of that show for good when Chris Noth left. When the show started, it was about a very real, gritty, and recognizable New York. Two of the best episodes I ever saw were about very poor, marginal people. One involved a hit gone wrong, because the illiterate preteen hitman couldn't read the apartment number right. The shot in the opening of a baby swing, with a bullet in it and a small stream of blood, still haunts me. The other was based on the Happy Land Social Club fire, up to 9/11 the most horrifying event I had heard of in the city. Again, a bar patronized by immigrants, the arsonist a dirt-poor schmuck in thrall to a immigrant smuggler, if I recall right.

Anyway, slowly before Noth's exit, and then rapidly & completely once he was gone, we shifted to strictly bourgeois crime. I don't know if it was connected to his exit, but it was noticeable. No grit, no suggestion of the city's vast working poor and underclass. Just a bunch of rich people lying and cheating and offing each other in various creative ways. And L&O became just another crime show.

But those first few seasons; man, I could tell you all about several other episodes just from memory. The writers got New York.

SV

Campaspe, the second episode you refer to - "Heaven" (in part, after the name of the nightclub) - has my vote for the Single Greatest Episode ever in the L&O universe.

I'm sure there are other great episodes (though none come to mind just now). But that one just kicks me in the gut, repeatedly, and then makes me cry. Every time. The growing horror, and anger, and frustration and disgust that the cops were feeling was clear from the way they acted, not from any cheaply written over-reactions or long out-of-character discussions of how they feeeeeeeeel. The only mention of the cops' personal lives was when Logan asked his partner if he had ever seen so many victims, and Cerreta answered, simply, "Not in civilian life."

Gives me chills every time.

Campaspe

SV, I completely agree and would cast the same vote. That episode also had a superb opening, where you see the cops' reaction ... and then the body bags, there in an unbelievably long line. And as you say, not a single spare close-up or speech.

Chris Galdieri

Something has indeed gone severely amiss at L&O -- I was repulsed by the way the finale lingered so lovingly on Borgia's bound and bloodied corpse. Even leaving aside the merits of the episode's plotline, it would have been more effective to show only the reactions McCoy et al had. And cheaper from a production standpoint.

As for Claire Kincaid, I believe we only ever heard a definitive reference to her death and her affair with Jack on the last crossover L&O did with Homicide -- and on the Homicide episode of that crossover, not L&O.

Lisa

I agree that the show died when Noth left. It never worked for me after that. And the way that Noth's character was dumped from the show—inexplicably hitting a politician—was also poorly done. It was as if the writers were warning us, "From here on, it's going to be a festival of shite."

I love Vincent D'Onofrio, but I can't handle his partner. She's awful. She reminds me of tiny dogs who think they're tough while everyone else thinks they're cute and slightly silly. She has one emotion, and she doesn't even do that one thing believably.

Plus, I'm sorry to be a sexist gal, but I hate her hair. I hate her goddam hair. Like the woman on Cold Case Files, whose old hairdo was so completely unbelievable for a cop that it became the only thing you could see. MadTV did a great parody of that show, and it, too, focused on that woman's hideous hair.

Remember Melissa Leo from "Homicide"? Now there was a believable female detective. She looked and acted the part.

Gawd, that was a great show for about 4 seasons. I miss that show... It makes "Law & Order" look like "Alice."

Hey, maybe the next assistant D.A. should be named Flo. And when she and Jack McCoy win a case, she can yell "Kiss my grits!" to the defendant as he's led away in cuffs.

It'd be awesome. Especially if she had Flo's hairstyle.

Ben

The cruelty to Parisse's character might have been forgiveable if the story made sense. However, it did not. She and the police find out that these two badass mofo's have killed the entire immediate family of an informant that turned on them. And he's her informant. By any stretch of the imagination would she be going about her business without police protection? No way.
And these "big changes" NBC promised us? Essentially just the most dispensible character (Borgia was the show's sixth junior ADA) written out in a gratuitously ugly manner.
Rumor has it that L&O is nearing cancellation. For the best if this turns out to be true.

cgeye

You know my beef w/L&O: They might have been our bad guys, but while Lennie Briscoe was on the job, we had hope that the inherent corruption and violation of rights we tolerated every week came from people who'd seen cases they didn't close -- Lennie had a wisecrack for corpse scenes, but he'd seen enough pain that we trusted he'd stay on the right side.

The DAs didn't matter, as much -- the paradox of needing plea bargains to pursue justice automatically makes the prosecution morally ambiguous. Revenge moves by Jack or straight-up fascist moves by Fred Thompson (who will only play Fred Thompson in the rest of his career) actually makes their motives clearer.

In any case, when they hired Dennis Farina, the shark was jumped and mugged in the Hudson. It wasn't the fine clothes or the thug's attitude, it was the distance from the cases that made it OK to stay distant from the TV, each week. Lennie might have cracked wise, but Fontana does not friggin' care, unless he can work in some beating of some humps.

JJB

I've put up with a lot of annoying aspects of L&O for a long time now, the worst being the sinking talent level of the actresses to play the ADA after Jill Hennessey's departure, but the show has been dead for me since Fred Thompson hauled his fat carcass onto the set. He's so bad I won't even dignify what he does by saying he's a bad actor. He isn't an actor at all, simply does not belong on the set. If he didn't show up one morning, they could shove one of the grips into his costume and he'd no doubt do a better job. Like a lot of tall, overweight men, he has balance problems every time he has to walk around a cramped set (watch how he bobs and weaves every time he has to walk to his desk after coming in the office door), and also must rearrange his jowls every time he has to speak. Finally, I grew up outside NYC, lived there for 13 years, and say this with absolute confidence: no one who sounds and thinks like Arthur Branch could ever be elected District Attorney for New York County. Nor could such a person ever have attained the stature he's supposed to have with that moronic good ol' boy accent. He'd be laughed out of every country club lockeroom and private club in the NY area if he didn't drop that accent, it's right out of "Lil' Abner."

blue girl

Whenever Mannion writes about L&O, lots of commenters mourn the loss of Chris Noth. I'm in that group, too. I haven't kept an excel file of these comments -- probably should have -- but I'm wondering if it's more women that mourn Noth than men. And I *didn't* care for him in Sex In The City -- strictly L&O. It would be interesting to know.

Lisa, I agreed with all your comments except for loving Vincent D'Onofrio. His character is over the top when it comes to figuring out the clues.

He's like, all quiet and dramatic, talking in a stunted manner...."The clock has stopped at two minutes passed two and there are two dishes in the sink. The killer must live at 222 West 2nd Street!"

cgeye

And the USA commercial openly acknowledges that, basically, Goren is such a spastic, overbearing snit that Alex Eames has to have the patience of Job, to tolerate. I'd buy that if Eames actually took the lead on a case, once in a while, and she got a hottie male assistant, like they did with Goren during her maternity leave.

Until then, she's a second banana that really acts like one -- like she's dumber, and only has her job because she can stand Goren, when she has to be at least reasonably intelligent and productive, to keep her post. (And, once we know Wolf orders her to dye her hair blond, we'll know she is doomed to be canapes for Nicole Wallace by the end of the season.)

Rockin' Rich

Jamey Sheridan (Capt. Deakins) departed from L&O:CI in kind of a half-assed way, too. Wonder who will replace him.. The 2-part season fiinale was all right, btw, but the preceding episode with Whoopi Goldberg as the villain (I KNEW she was evil!) was terrific and deeply disturbing (in a good way!) The new NBC schedule has CI and SVU back-to-back on Tuesdays...

Eric

To me the two vital characters who really weakened the show when they left were Schiff and Brisco. Jill Hennessey was the best ADA, but the part isn't important enough to matter that much. Chris Noth was great, but as long as Brisco was there the other cops were ok.

In general it seems that the overall writing quality has gone down for a few years now. Maybe they have spread themselves too thin and the best storylines/effort are going to SVU and CI, L&O gets more generic by the numbers stuff.

Erika

I'm completely sick of the "Ripped from the Headlines" storylines. The last episode of SVU that I watched had at least four references to recent news stories. How about some original content for a change?

Temple

Not too sure how late to the party I am here, but a lot of good comments on Law and Order. I don't agree with many of them, but they were exceptually well presented.

>>Law and Order: SVU midway through the first season when it became clear that every week's episode was going to be about the detectives getting outraged and seeking revenge

That's all it is, I agree. Yet, it's the most popular one (right?). I've actually started watching it a bit and was luck yenough to catch the one where Ice-T's (the character, not the rapper) family was involved in a murder of mother and kid - and that was good.

Fred Thompson is fine in the role. It's a nice balance. You can't have all the people thinking the same way as that's an asshat's path to a large yawn.

And Jack McKoy, yep, he's kind of silly. I don't see good acting ... in this role. I see a few set pieces replayed over and over. The courtroom scenes are decent, but mostly forgettable.

I do miss Lennie, though the jokes were always kind of stupid. He'd been there, done that through the decades. He was part of the city much more than most, and he did have a heart that sometimes hurt when he had to go arrest some smuck.

I've lost the plotlines having not watched any of them with any regularity. I catch them on re-runs all over the place.

- Temple

Emma Goldman

I have to add that Rohm CANNOT ACT. I could not stand watching her, and didn't miss her once she left (bogus though the reason for exit was). As for characters, etc., "Hill Street Blues" remains the best show on television, ever (yes, better than "Cheers" and better than "Frasier," despite the high quality of both of them). It doesn't show up in syndication because of the way the plotlines were written, so i think a lot of people haven't been exposed to it, but that show completely rocked, and took way longer to jump the shark than any other show I've seen.

Dawn

I stopped watching L&O when Dick Wolf gave an interview to TV Guide in which he stated in answer to a question about the hiring of Elizabeth Rohm: "Well, we've never had a blonde before." Right then you knew L&O was gone. Whether you liked Carey Lowell or not, she had a defined character. Did the writers write for Elizabeth Rohm?

Personally, I like the character of Eames. At least she has one.

W. Ian Blanton

I'm glad to see that other people were puzzled/irritated by this episode. I watch L&O a LOT, catching it on reruns on my ReplayTV.

I felt that the episode felt a lot like "Ooooh, look what we'll do, we'll kill (another) ADA off for the season closer!"

But the fact is, they killed her off badly. It had no real impact. It really did feel like they were po'ed at the actress, and I wondered if she'd torqued the producers off, or something before I read anything about it.

I also think that the show has been "losing it's way" for a while. But I am surprised to not see anyone use the reasons I've felt that way.

It's about Law and Order. What I've really liked about the whole "L&O" franchise, when it works, is that it's about the balance our law system has to walk for it all to work, as imperfectly as it does.

For me, the weakest L&O episodes are the ones with the "gotcha" endings.

For the same reasons, I'm not interested in many of the L&O franchises. SVU? Works, mostly, because it follows the formula; Police arrest, then they have to try and convict the accused. Trial By Jury? Half a show. Criminal Intent? I'm sorry, isn't "Monk" on USA?

If you lose the DA/Prosecutorial side of the house, it's just a cop show. If you lose the police, it's just a Law drama. It's the gestalt that makes it work. Regardless of who the police or DA's are.

Where they count is how their personalities affect how we get "Justice", and it's interesting and compelling, when the show is hitting on all cylinders.

cgeye

Ding, dong.... but no sunshine without rain. Remember that skanky, bitchy ho' ADA on CONVICTION? Not the blonde one outta Witness Protection - *her*. Well, guess where she's going?


Govich gets 'L&O' badge; Farina exits

By Nellie Andreeva

Dennis Farina is leaving NBC's crime drama "Law & Order" after two years, while Milena Govich, who co-starred in "Conviction," Dick Wolf's midseason drama for NBC, has come on board Wolf's flagship "L&O" series.

On "L&O," from Wolf Films and NBC Universal Network TV, Farina played Detective Joe Fontana, who investigated crimes and apprehended suspects with partner Edward Green (Jesse L. Martin).

"Dennis is the consummate professional, and I respect his decision to pursue other opportunities, and he will be sorely missed," Wolf said. "I genuinely hope we work together again."

Farina had succeeded longtime "L&O" star Jerry Orbach, whose character on the show, Detective Lennie Briscoe, transitioned to Wolf's "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" until Orbach's death in late 2004.

Govich is said to be considered for two roles on "L&O" -- the new partner of Detective Green and a new cop joining the department -- with sources indicating that she likely would fill the void left by Farina and work alongside Martin.

Reps for Dick Wolf and NBC Uni TV declined comment on the issue Tuesday.

Farina's departure and Govich's hire are part of a major talent overhaul of the 16-year-old series that also includes the exit of Annie Parisse, who played Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Borgia.

After airing Wednesdays since its launch in 1990, "L&O" will move to Friday in the fall.

Farina recently wrapped the indie "You Kill Me" and also appears in Edward Burns' "Purple Violets."

Govich, who guest-starred on "L&O" in 2005, also had a recurring role on FX's "Rescue Me."

She is repped by the Gersh Agency and Bleecker Street Entertainment.

Rosie

I'm a huge fan of all of the Law & Order shows. It took me a little while to like CI though -- mostly because of D'Onofrio's "Monk-like" quirkiness, but I'm a fan now. Hated Christopher Noth and Dennis Farina both. Love Claire Kincaid -- messed up how they wrote her out! Anyone remember Third Watch? I thought that was an excellent show!!

LO & Behold

LOCI is fun to watch, and Erbe and D'Onofrio make it that way. I would like to see more interplay between them, either supporting or being irritated with each other. Just like real coworkers. I enjoy the recurring appearances of Nicole, and watching her make the detectives nuts. I can't wait to see who replaces Jamey Sheridan. I like the actors Annabelle Sciorra (hope I didn't mangle that) and Chris Noth, but their episodes are just not as entertaining as the ones with Erbe and D'Onofrio. When Erbe was pregnant, I thought the actress who filled in was good, especially because she was so obviously a short timer. Hope that's how she meant to appear! I would like to see some interaction between the casts of SVU and the original show with LOCI too.

roger

12-19-2006

I have followed all FOUR Law & Order shows from the beginning - 1991, even the cancelled 4th show with BeBe Neuworth - Scott Cohen - GREAT< GREAT actor finally made it onto a L & O show - and it gets canned. I read alot about each of the shows - so I am familier with changes - even in the cast. My biggest disappointment was when I had an "insider" in NYC tell me that Chris Noth wasn't being offered a renewed contract - 1995 I think. I was in law enforcement for 23 years, 8 months, 2 weeks and 3 days - then I HAD to take a medical retirement. Jamey Sheridan and Courtney B. Vance - for the love
of whatever - they never put any "meat" on their parts - two veteran, great actors - puff - they're gone.
Dennis Farina - leaves every law enforcement officer, corrections - e - were pissed - HE WAS GREAT.

Tim

I remember reading a comment by Chris Noth that he didn't like NYPD Blue, because it wasn't even shot in New York, but I've always liked it (NYPD-B) better than L&O. (Not that I don't like L&O.) However, although it was set in present-day, it was based more on the cases worked in the '70s by show advisor Bill Clarke. You can't touch a perp during the interview now, because they have cameras in every corner of the room.
Nonetheless I've become more a fan of CI, precisely because of D'Onofrio's/Goren's quirkiness.
And I could never understand everyone's dislike of Rohm/Southerland. Have you ever met a real lawyer? She actually ACTED like one: Cold, indiffernt, and emotionless.

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