Law & Order
Law & Order
TV-14 | 13 September 1990 (USA)
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  • Reviews

    Excellent adaptation.

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    It's hard to see any effort in the film. There's no comedy to speak of, no real drama and, worst of all.

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    Humaira Grant

    It’s not bad or unwatchable but despite the amplitude of the spectacle, the end result is underwhelming.

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    Kaydan Christian

    A terrific literary drama and character piece that shows how the process of creating art can be seen differently by those doing it and those looking at it from the outside.

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    At one point, I saw Sam Waterston asked in an interview why Law & Order was so popular. He seemed a bit surprised by the question and responded that it was the story lines. While he has a point in that they do come up with some unusual twists and turns in their storytelling, the writers had some big problems in how they developed their characters, particularly Waterston's.The premise of the show is that it depicts the criminal justice system from the view of both the police and the courts. Consequently, the shows always start with the discovery of a crime, usually, but not always, murder. We then follow the detectives (Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Benjamin Bratt, Chris Noth, S Epathat Merkerson) as they solve the crime, eventually finding a suspect that they arrest and bring to trial. At that point we go to the DA's office, and follow Executive ADA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), a smug and arrogant man who conflates his desires with the law, and winning with justice, and his assistance of the season (Angie Harmon, Alana De La Garza, Elisabeth Rohm) as they work to bring the case to trial. Occasionally the DA (Dianne Wiest, Fred Thompson) gets brought in on the action. Eventually, the case goes to trial, and in the end, a verdict is brought in, although not always the one expected.This is another show that suffers from some really unpleasant characters. While the police detectives are generally a likable lot, and seem to be doing the best they can, once things get to the DA's office, things take a turn for the worse. In general, the assistants are usually likable and compassionate people, as was DA Nora Lewin (Dianne Wiest). Unfortunately, once Arthur Branch (Fred Thompson) took over as DA, the DA stopped being quite so sympathetic a character. And the writers are to be congratulated in creating the worst villain ever in Jack McCoy. The only problem is, Jack McCoy is the one you're supposed to be rooting for. And his character, as well Arthur Branch's could have easily been humanized by the occasional mention of a family, a hobby, a favorite cause, anything to make them look as though they cared about something other than only winning their case. As it stands, once the crime has been solved, the show becomes painful to watch.By and large, I find the acting to be pretty good. Dianne Wiest did a nice turn in her time as a DA. Jesse L. Martin was especially good as a detective, and S. Epatha Merkerson was wonderful as the head of the detectives. Angie Harmon did a nice job as McCoy's assistant, and Elisabeth Rohm was outstanding in that capacity. Sam Waterston's Jack McCoy is a puzzle to me, as Waterston is perfectly capable of creating a likable character, even when the character's actions aren't necessarily likable, e.g. in Finnegan Begin Again. However, there is absolutely nothing likable about Jack McCoy, and I'm inclined to think that is the fault of the writing, as I think Waterston could have pulled it off. Worst however, was Fred Thompson, who clearly was playing Fred Thompson. His departure from the show was a blessed relief.Clearly the show was successful, and spun off several equally successful series. I just can't help thinking how much more successful it could have been had they worked a little harder to make the main characters people that you wanted to follow week in and week out.

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    Jennifer (LadySailor1975)

    Until Anderson was added, this show was awesome.The best detectives were Lenny Briscoe, Ed Green, and Nina Cassady. Briscoe was caring, compassionate, and some comic relief. Ed was also caring and compassionate, but was more businesslike. He did have 2 complaints of excessive force, but he was never suspended. Nina was the newbie, shoved into the detective job after obtaining local celebrity status as a hero. Though she started off on the wrong foot (mainly with her mouth and impulsive behavior), she was gradually improving and gaining better control of herself. I felt that Lenny was a great addition to the show. However, I don't see why so many cop shows have these cops with adult kids who hate them. Why does every cop show do that? Come on, that's getting old. Lenny retired and later died (Jerry Orbach died shortly after leaving the show). Ed was not married and had no kids. He was able to devote his every waking hour to his work. Ed decided to leave after he was investigated for the death of a suspect, which was later deemed justified. Nina was a beautiful woman and she knew it. She hated when suspects or witnesses would hit on her. Her nickname of Detective Beauty Queen was not something she wanted and she loathed when people brought that up to her. She wanted to be the best detective she could possibly be. No reason was ever given for her departure (as opposed to reasons given to ALL the others). The best DA's were Jack McCoy, Abbie Carmichael, and Alexandra Borgia. Jack was always determined to get the suspect and sometimes even crossed the line. Nothing angered him more than seeing a guilty person walk out of a courtroom free and clear. I was pleased when McCoy became the District Attorney, now the boss. He still remained fair and stuck to the law. Abbie had the same determination as her boss. She took it personally when the victim of a crime was a woman, especially if that woman had been raped. Abbie later left when she was offered a better job with the US attorney's office. Abbie was a great DA and she could have taken Jack's place when he became the lead DA. Alexandra could have been Abbie's twin sister with that same attitude. Her anger is especially visible when she is investigating the cover-up of a rape of a twelve-year-old girl. She would do anything to see this person pay. Alexandra was later killed while investigating fake DEA badges. I personally wish she had stayed another season or even until the show ended.The final season was not very good at all. Anderson is a lousy actor who couldn't act to save his own life. What was Dick Wolf thinking? Did he get kicked in the head by my horse? The others were all superb actors and did a marvelous job. Even if I did not like the actors or characters of the others, they still did a great job.My favorite actors on Law and Order were Sam Waterston, S Epatha Merkerson, Jesse Martin, Milena Govich, Angie Harmon, Jerry Orbach (RIP), Annie Parisse, and Diane Weist. My favorite guest star was Jennifer Beals. She is also a fabulous actress.

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    I served on a jury once, even before Law & Order came on the air. I voted for conviction because no juror will ever disbelieve a prosecutor. Not even people like the ones on the show, who are human only because only a human is capable of such cruelty and viciousness. I am talking mostly about the prosecutors, but also the police who went through the crimes. The names and faces changed, but the stories never did. The cops were always noble and always had a really good reason to break every law known to man that was designed to protect a suspect -- forcing (or just asking) witnesses to perjure themselves was always a good method. I remember one show where a cop coldbloodedly framed a man for a murder the man didn't commit (to get revenge on him for a murder he had committed). All the cop got was a slap on the wrist and an invitation to quit the force, rather than 50 years in a Federal penitentiary for the frame-up. In other shows, the prosecutors, the cops, or sometimes both at once, viciously threatened the suspects (often without their lawyers present, but who cared) and did everything short of a rubber-hose beating to coerce a confession. These people had no ethics of any kind, no belief whatsoever that the suspect was innocent until Proved guilty (and by that standard means beyond any doubt whatsoever), and often forced plea bargains by innocent suspects whom they couldn't convict. NBC should have been on the phone forcing Dick Wolf to make sure at least a third and probably more of the cases ended in acquittals, and it would have made the cast turnover a lot easier just to have another prosecutor caught in another sadistic sociopathic act and sent up the river. The other L&O shows were slightly more balanced except for the bomb Trial By Jury, which would have been a hit ONLY IF the innocent people were given a full chance and almost every case had resulted in an acquittal. As for me, I voted to convict a man I KNEW was not guilty and to destroy his life. I was pressured by the other jurors, and I didn't have enough to persuade all of them or do anything more than meekly cave in to them. No more. If I am called into a voir dire, I will talk to the judge and the entire prosecution team and explain to them that I am a fierce supporter of The Innocence Project and that I favor extremely harsh penalties for prosecutors, judges and even jurors who find an innocent person guilty, and warn them that I would devote my entire fortune to clearing as many convicts as possible if I had a fortune. That might be considered threatening the court, but it is simple honesty -- something no prosecutor has or will ever have.

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    How can people stand this show? It's so unrealistic, formulaic and lacking in emotion and substance. I just can't believe it's lasted so long, let alone become a franchise.People going about their business find a body. Usually that scene has some "social commentary". Detectives arrive at the scene and say something clever. Credits. They interview family members and friends, who are saddened but not much, either because they're talentless actors or the writers realized a realistic depiction of grief every episode would overwhelm the audience. The usual suspect is discarded, then they arrest the unusual suspect. Then arraignment, then a bunch of motions where McCoy has to clean up the detective's mess because every episode they violate someone's civil rights. Then a couple of witnesses testify a whole minute (pleeease!) and then the verdict. That is, of course, after the very realistic and thought-out two minute long closing arguments.Yeah, one episode = one trial. It's not like trials take weeks or months IRL, and apparently the cops always make an arrest within days.And I say, why not make this show realistic and depict what a week in the detective's and prosecutor's life at work would be like (working many cases, which develop at different speed)? Damages appears to be the only realistic legal drama out there when it comes to time. Seriously, if you watch this garbage you're part of the problem.It's time we, as an audience, demand some respect and stop supporting shows that insult our intelligence.

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