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"Law and Order" original series on DVD (1990 - 2010) discussion thread (1 Viewer)

JohnnyLancer

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Rewatching law and order on my boxset I now notice just how great Steven Hill was in his small role. And seeing NY like that in the early 90s shows howuch character that city had for the longest before the cleanup came. I'm convinced you couldn't have done a show like this " just anywhere". Although wolf has said the succes was always in " the formula ".
 

Rick Thompson

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It always bugged me that the original series never got the love that was lavished on SVU, which I gave up on when it turned out to be a "pervert of the week" show. I'm very happy to have bought the complete L&O series, which was packaged the way they all should have been: a big box with every season in its own self-contained packaging as if it were sold as a separate season. I trashed the big box. I also liked Criminal Intent, Trial by Jury and even LA, though it never seemed to know what it wanted to be. As for SVU, I've only kept the disks that had crossover episodes with the "mother ship." It still bugs me that they never reissued Season 14 anamorphic. You get 16x9 inside a 4x3 box.
 

Matt Hough

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The original show got some love: it's the only one of Dick Wolf's series that ever won the Emmy as Best Drama Series. And for me, the show holds up better than anything else he's done. I can plop into a rerun on one of the cable channels and instantly get drawn into the crime and trial, no matter which season or which actors are present. High praise indeed.
 

JohnnyLancer

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It always bugged me that the original series never got the love that was lavished on SVU, which I gave up on when it turned out to be a "pervert of the week" show. I'm very happy to have bought the complete L&O series, which was packaged the way they all should have been: a big box with every season in its own self-contained packaging as if it were sold as a separate season. I trashed the big box. I also liked Criminal Intent, Trial by Jury and even LA, though it never seemed to know what it wanted to be. As for SVU, I've only kept the disks that had crossover episodes with the "mother ship." It still bugs me that they never reissued Season 14 anamorphic. You get 16x9 inside a 4x3 box.
The complete set was packaged great 👍. I felt svu started good but it became way too preachy to me. Now it's a soap opera but it speaks the the average TV viewer today.
 

JohnnyLancer

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The original show got some love: it's the only one of Dick Wolf's series that ever won the Emmy as Best Drama Series. And for me, the show holds up better than anything else he's done. I can plop into a rerun on one of the cable channels and instantly get drawn into the crime and trial, no matter which season or which actors are present. High praise indeed.
I feel that way too. Especially the first 9 seasons. I wish a streaming service would give us the orginal first few seasons which I feel are the best compared to the Anthony Anderson years
 

WendyCR

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I'm convinced you couldn't have done a show like this " just anywhere".

Well, I think the failure of Law & Order: Los Angeles has proven that to be true. New York City was a character very much in its own right for the Mothership, Criminal Intent, and SVU.

I think Dick Wolf wanted L&O: LA to give the west coast/California the same type of magic, but the "vibe" just wasn't there like it was in the east coast iterations. (Of course, the messed-up time line on that show certainly didn't help it!)

Always something to see NYC from years past on the original and CI (the two versions I personally love the most; stopped loving SVU ages ago, probably when Elliott/Chris Meloni left, if not before!).
 

JohnnyLancer

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Well, I think the failure of Law & Order: Los Angeles has proven that to be true. New York City was a character very much in its own right for the Mothership, Criminal Intent, and SVU.

I think Dick Wolf wanted L&O: LA to give the west coast/California the same type of magic, but the "vibe" just wasn't there like it was in the east coast iterations. (Of course, the messed-up time line on that show certainly didn't help it!)

Always something to see NYC from years past on the original and CI (the two versions I personally love the most; stopped loving SVU ages ago, probably when Elliott/Chris Meloni left, if not before!).
I wish he stayed gone but in a series finale came to say goodbye. The new spinoff series is more soap opera nonsense. Law and order Los Angeles had a fabulous cast but I feel like everything was just off even the theme song lol.. plus we have seen so many shows about cops in LA. LAO in the beginning had a certain moral consciousness and straight to the point way of conveying a story. I rewatched " life choice" which was in season 1 so circa 1990 and it still holds up. Why? Because its not concerned with influencing a viewer or wowing them. It simply plays out two sides of a opinion. From max agreeing with pro life to Logan agreeing with pro choice, and the best part of all is when stone ask the leader of the cult " aren't you responsible for the death of that women and her child?" 1990-95 the show never missed a beat.
 

The Drifter

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Thanks for all of the posts/replies! I'm glad that the original L&O series still has a lot of fans, especially considering the extreme popularity of the various spin-offs. However, I will always attest the this original series is by far the best, hands-down.

I finally finished watching S05 & have started on S06. Interesting that Mike Logan was written off the show at the end of S05 -
re: his hitting that politician outside the courthouse
Ben Bratt was a good replacement for him in S06, and a good foil to Orbach.

Since I recently started S06, I'm trying to figure out when a good time would be to see "Exiled: A Law and Order Movie" (1998), which apparently features Mike Logan (Chris Noth) in a "stand-alone" story. Since S05 is Logan's last season, this would be a somewhat obvious follow-up. However, I also know that 'Exiled' takes place three years after S05 ends. So, I may wait to watch this.

I do know "Exiled" was never released in any of the Region 1 DVD L&O boxed sets - though it should have been, given that it is technically part of the series. However, "Exiled" was released as a stand-alone Region 1 DVD in 2012. I can't speak for the PQ since I don't have this disk. I found some crummy streams of this online, but they are borderline-unwatchable.

Shifting gears, I am really enjoying the '90's setting of this show. As someone who was a young adult during this time, I clearly remember how tech. was slowly but significantly improving throughout the decade - which is clearly reflected in the series. I.e., in the very early seasons very few characters have cell-phones & some use beepers, pay phones (when they were still around), etc. As the decade/seasons go on, more characters are using those original, large cell phones, etc. Also, the Internet isn't prevalent in the very early seasons, but as time passes it does get more accessible & popular. And, obviously personal computers get more advanced as the decade passes.

The first person I knew who had a cell phone was in 1992. And, I clearly remember the first time I used the Internet was in college in the "computer lab", way back in 1995. That was several years before I got a home Internet connection (dial-up - ha ha).
 
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The Drifter

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Recently finished watching L&O S06. Another extremely strong season - superb! It was refreshing & realistic to depict Briscoe & Rey Curtis, his new partner (Ben Bratt) as having a somewhat rough initial partnership. This is something that can (and does) happen IRL when people unfamiliar to each other are forced to work together.

One of the many realistic elements to L&O is that they do - in many cases - depict crimes where the authorities suspect & then even arrest innocent people. In many cases these innocent people are convicted of crimes they had nothing to do with. This sadly happens IRL all the time, and it's good to see this depicted on the show - unlike other crime dramas where the LE always capture the "right" bad guy(s) in every single case. To me, this is one of the many elements that make L&O rise above many supposedly "similar" shows.

Some of my favorite S06 episodes:

"Jeopardy": A magazine editor is found dead in his office(s), and the investigation
uncovers a "family connection" to the crime & corruption in the legal system.

"Humiliation": The murder of a prostitute leads Briscoe & Curtis to a respected/renowned plastic surgeon - who initially appears to be the prime suspect.
However, as the investigation continues, it's revealed that the surgeon's wife actually killed the prostitute - due to being ashamed/humiliated at what her husband was doing.
Amazing episode.

"Angel": A young mother claims that her baby was kidnapped while she was at church.
However, the truth is far more horrific. Very sad episode.

"Remand": A 30-year old case is resurrected when the perpetrator of a vicious crime is getting a new trial. This was based on the infamous 1964 NYC Kitty Genovese case.
 
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The Drifter

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Part 2 of my S06 review:

"Custody": Paul Robinette returns (without his signature flat-top) as a defense attorney here. He defends a young women who kidnapped her young baby from it's adoptive parents. Superb episode, and you really saw a side of Robinette that hadn't been seen when he was a regular on the show. Definitely one of the best episodes in the series -very powerful.

"Savior": A depressed businessman is accused of killing his wife & son, and wounding his teenaged daughter.
However, as the investigation continues the truth is revealed.
Extremely disturbing episode, which shows the lengths that manipulative & evil people will go to get what they want. Horrible & realistic. Guest-starring a young Ellen Pompeo (Gray's Anatomy).

"Trophy": Jack McCoy is accused of concealing evidence from a previous case. This is brought up due to the case being re-opened when new evidence is found, suggesting that an innocent man had been wrongly accused & convicted of a crime years before.

"Aftershock": The season finale. The main characters are all reacting differently when a man they had tried & convicted is put to death. We find out some previously-unknown personal background on McCoy, Rey, Claire, and Briscoe.
I didn't see the end coming - i.e., Claire is killed in a car accident after she is driving Briscoe home from a bar - where she found him drinking. However, Briscoe survives.
 
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Matt Hough

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I remember "Savior" quite clearly. It was the first time I had ever seen Ellen Pompeo, and her performance was nightmarishly haunting.

As for Claire in "Aftershock," sadly, her fate was your latter question.
 

The Drifter

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I remember "Savior" quite clearly. It was the first time I had ever seen Ellen Pompeo, and her performance was nightmarishly haunting.

As for Claire in "Aftershock," sadly, her fate was your latter question.

Thanks for the info. Unfortunately, that's what it looked like to me but I was being optimistic - especially since I haven't started S07 yet. I've gone back & modified my post.

I definitely agree that Savior was extremely unsettling/disturbing.
The idea that a daughter would orchestrate having her mother & brother killed is horrific enough, but what made this even worse is that she set up her father to take the fall for the crime - when he was completely innocent. People like this are the definition of evil, and unfortunately do exist IRL.
 

The Drifter

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I just saw this article about the original L&O that I thought fans of the series may find interesting:


I did not know that the show was on the verge of being cancelled after the third season, and that a cast change was suggested to attract more viewers (given that all of the main characters in S01-S03 were male). Obviously, it worked.
 
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The Drifter

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Recently finished S07. Excellent, as always. In this season, ADA Jamie Ross (Carey Lowell) replaces Claire as Jack McCoy's second chair. Good actress, and her no-nonsense approach is refreshing. She typically doesn't allow emotion to get in the way of her job - for the most part. As I've said before, much of the strength of this series are not only the cast changes which keep the series 'fresh', but also the strength of the ensemble cast as a whole.

Some of my favorite episodes:

'Causa Mortis': A school-teacher & mother who was volunteering her time to educate adults is car-jacked, assaulted, and killed in the city. The crime is heard on an audio-tape she was recording, and after investigating the perpetrator is eventually caught. This depicted an especially heinous crime, that was based on a true event.

'Survivor': The murder of a rare coin dealer leads the investigators into some unusual directions & suspects. Guest-starring Karen Allen (Raiders of the Lost Ark).

'Menace': A young woman seemingly gets into a car accident, is pulled out of her car by a large man and - in order to get away from him - jumps to her death off of a bridge....in front of numerous witnesses. On the surface, the death appeared to be road rage caused by the car accident.
However, as the crime is investigated, however - it's revealed that the accident was intentional & that the large man had a specific reason for going after the young woman.
Definitely one of the best episodes in the series.

'Working Mom': The killing of an LE officer leads Briscoe & Curtis to investigate two women (living in the NY suburbs) who allegedly run an interior decorating business. As it turns out, there is more to the case (and the two women) than initially meets the eye. Guest-starring Felicity Huffman.
 

The Drifter

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Finished S08 of L&O & have started on S09. As always, excellent season. Some of the many highlights:

"Thrill" - Briscoe & Curtis investigate the murder of a delivery driver, and look for a motive. Soon after, they realize that there was no motive, and that this was a random "thrill" killing. This type of crime is especially disturbing, given that the victim was essentially an "innocent bystander", and there was no warning ahead of time.

"Navy Blues" - After a body is found in a park, the investigation leads to a Navy ship that is docked in the harbor & a decorated Navy flier.

"Baby, it's You" - The murder of a teenage model in NYC leads the investigation to Baltimore, where the family has ties. The two-parter is concluded on an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. As always with these cross-over episodes, it was interesting to see the two investigative teams from both cities having to work together to solve the case. And, the banter between Munch & Briscoe was obviously one of the best elements of these episodes ;)

It's too bad that L&O only featured one more cross-over episode with Homicide (in S09), but that was inevitable given that the latter series ended in 1999.

"Expert" - Two people are shot in the bathroom of a crowded restaurant, and it is initially unclear who was the actual target(s). Excellent & complex episode.

It's unfortunate that Jamie Ross leaves at the end of S08 (just as we're getting used to the character), but that's par for the course with the show. And, as I've said in previous posts - the regular cast changes definitely keep the show "fresh" and is a good approach for the series.

A general comment about the show:

I had mentioned in another thread years ago that Homicide: Life on the Street was my #1 favorite crime drama. Well, after now really delving into this original L&O series - I'm going to modify that comment: L&O is now definitely my all time favorite crime drama, period. Not only do I find it the superior L&O series (when compared to all of the spin-offs), but I find it an excellent show in & of itself. It's compelling, the story-lines are well-written & the episode(s) are extremely well-edited, numerous episodes are based on real cases, and the cast is top-notch. It's definitely one of the best TV series ever made.
 
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The Drifter

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After starting S09, soon after I watched Exiled: A Law and Order movie (1998). This is a stand-alone TV film that chronologically takes place early in S09, and features detective Mike Logan. He is now "demoted" and working in Staten Island, after punching out a politician at the end of S05.

I had heard a lot of negative things about this. However, despite it's flaws - I'm glad I saw the movie. It wasn't nearly as good as a regular episode of the show, but IMHO was still worth checking out - at least once. And, it is part of the L&O series mythos & features many of the regular characters (Briscoe, Curtis, Van Buren, Profaci, etc.) My review:

The good:

-Compelling story involving Logan taking the Staten Island Ferry?! to work one morning, and seeing a body being pulled out of the harbor. In typical Logan fashion, he bull-dogs his way into the investigation by claiming that the body is under his jurisdiction (which is a lie), so he can have justification to work on/solve the murder.

The investigation leads to the son of a well-known mafia don, and a cover-up involving the authorities.

I didn't see the end coming: As Logan & company go to arrest the son at the mafia don's large home, the don willingly turns his son over to the authorities. In retaliation, the son suddenly & unexpectedly kills his father - and then is arrested & taken away.

I was surprised that Profaci was implicated in the cover-up. One of the most poignant scenes in the film was when he was explaining/justifying what happened (to Logan) and how he got pulled into helping cover up the crime - and asks Logan for help. The events in this film explain his subsequent absence on the regular series, where he had been a semi-regular up to this point.

In addition to the regular L&O cast, this also featured Dabney Coleman, Ice-T, Dana Eskelson (as Logan's new partner), Costas Mandylor (who reminded me of a young Michael Pare), etc.

The bad:

-The production values were cheap. This was a made-for-TV movie, and it showed. The score was forgettable, and the editing was poor. It would have been a lot better if this had been a regular, 2-hour special episode of the show with the iconic intro., music, excellent editing, etc.

That all being said, if this had not been connected to the L&O series, I may have been more forgiving.
 
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JohnnyLancer

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Finished S08 of L&O & have started on S09. As always, excellent season. Some of the many highlights:

"Thrill" - Briscoe & Curtis investigate the murder of a delivery driver, and look for a motive. Soon after, they realize that there was no motive, and that this was a random "thrill" killing. This type of crime is especially disturbing, given that the victim was essentially an "innocent bystander", and there was no warning ahead of time.

"Navy Blues" - After a body is found in a park, the investigation leads to a Navy ship that is docked in the harbor & a decorated Navy flier.

"Baby, it's You" - The murder of a teenage model in NYC leads the investigation to Baltimore, where the family has ties. The two-parter is concluded on an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. As always with these cross-over episodes, it was interesting to see the two investigative teams from both cities having to work together to solve the case. And, the banter between Munch & Briscoe was obviously one of the best elements of these episodes ;)

It's too bad that L&O only featured one more cross-over episode with Homicide (in S09), but that was inevitable given that the latter series ended in 1999.

"Expert" - Two people are shot in the bathroom of a crowded restaurant, and it is initially unclear who was the actual target(s). Excellent & complex episode.

It's unfortunate that Jamie Ross leaves at the end of S08 (just as we're getting used to the character), but that's par for the course with the show. And, as I've said in previous posts - the regular cast changes definitely keep the show "fresh" and is a good approach for the series.

A general comment about the show:

I had mentioned in another thread years ago that Homicide: Life on the Street was my #1 favorite crime drama. Well, after now really delving into this original L&O series - I'm going to modify that comment: L&O is now definitely my all time favorite crime drama, period. Not only do I find it the superior L&O series (when compared to all of the spin-offs), but I find it an excellent show in & of itself. It's compelling, the story-lines are well-written & the episode(s) are extremely well-edited, numerous episodes are based on real cases, and the cast is top-notch. It's definitely one of the best TV series ever made.
Homicide life on the street is so underrated its almost criminal I feel. Shame peacock hasn't got it for streaming so more people can discover it. Especially those who liked "The Wire".
 

The Drifter

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I recently finished S11 of L&O. As always, incredible season. And, while some episodes were better than others - I felt they were all solid & well-done.

Interesting that Dianne Wiest is the new Interim D.A. Norma Lewin, replacing Adam Schiff (Steven Hill). Coincidentally, both Wiest and Waterson were in several Woody Allen films in the '80's and early '90's.

One of the many great elements I like about this show is the realism. I.e., each episode starts with a "slice of life" where you see people arguing, talking, etc. prior to finding a homicide/beating victim; usually, these people nothing to do with the case(s) themselves, and they're not seen again after the intro. Two of my many favorites in S11:

- A grandfather?! and his grand-son are good-naturedly arguing about the merits/pitching skills of the iconic baseball player, Babe Ruth - right before seeing a horrible car accident.

-In the evening, a young couple leave a restaurant where they just finished having dinner with the man's parents. The young woman is stressed because she doesn't think that the man's mother likes her, etc. Then, they find a body.

I also like the realism re: showing the main characters eating lunch/dinner while working (on a regular basis), which is something you don't always see in other crime dramas. I.e., while Green & Briscoe are out doing their investigations, they will sometimes eat lunch at delis/street vendors, and/or eat at their desks. And, you will also occasionally see one or both of the Lawyers (Jack & Abbie) eating at high-end restaurants, or eating take-out at their desks when working late, etc.
 
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