Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Last Law & Order Standing

This week, Amber West and I are flipping channels over to NBC and sharing our Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday reviews of Harry’s Law and Law & Order: SVU.

For the past twenty plus years, Dick Wolf’s productions have dominated the NBC primetime slots.  He first created the original Law & Order, and then added spinoffs SVU and Criminal Intent, as well as the short-lived Trial by Jury and LA.    

The last of the franchise still standing today is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, currently in its thirteenth season.  Like the original, SVU has a great ensemble cast, and it showcases gut-wrenching storylines. 

The Special Victims Unit is a specialized department that focuses on assault and rape cases in New York City, often times inspired by today’s headlines.   

For the first twelve seasons, the SVU team depends on lead detectives Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni).  Benson, the product of her mother’s rape, and Stabler, the father of five children, take the cases personally and sometimes take actions we as viewers wish we could see more of on television – in other words, they’re not always by the book, and therefore one of the partners is always in trouble. 

SVU’s cast, for the most part, has remained the same for all thirteen seasons, including: Captain Cragen (Dan Florek), and also detectives Tutuola (Ice-T) and Munch (Richard Belzer). 

The original Law & Order split the hour-long program into two parts – “the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.” [t1]  SVU doesn’t follow the exact same formula, but does of course involve the district attorney’s office in each episode (returning favorites in season 13 – Casey Novak played by Diane Neal, Alexandra Cabot played by Stephanie March, and Michael Cutter played by Linus Roache from L&O).   

This season, viewers will see a new cast of characters following Meloni’s departure from the show and Hargitay’s rumored request for a lighter workload.  Danny Pino (Cold Case) joins as Det. Nick Amaro from warrants and narcotics, and Kellie Giddish (Chase) transfers to NYC from Atlanta as Det. Amanda Rollins

In addition to SVU’s fictionalized accounts of current events, viewers can count on a large revolving door of guest stars.  So far in season thirteen, we’ve seen a familiar story line where a hotel maid accuses a foreign diplomat of rape.  In episode two, SVU landed guest stars Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years), Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness), and real-life basketball greats Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.    

This week (tonight actually), Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Sex and the City) and Paige Turco (Damages) guest star as husband and wife in a fictionalized account of a particular politician’s scandal. 

Before rating, I must issue this warning – the writers don’t sugar-coat things.  If you don’t like watching bad things happen to children, don’t watch! 

The past few weeks, the GTV rating has been awarded left and right; but, not today.  While I do watch Law & Order: SVU religiously, I can only award the JFTV ratingSVU is like junk food, particularly like that bag of greasy potato chips – it’s not great for us, but we keep coming back for more. 

SVU is the last of the franchise airing new episodes.  I simply can’t imagine television today without hearing this:

Of course, I am worried that I will soon have to get my Law & Order fix watching reruns only (thank you, TNT!). 

What do you think? Do you prefer the original Law & Order, SVU, or Criminal Intent? Will SVU survive Meloni’s departure, or will this be the last of the L&O franchise?  I’d love to hear from you!

Now click over to Amber’s blog and check out her review of Harry’s Law.  The GTV ratings came to an end over here; will Amber award another top review over on her site?   

Come back next week when Amber and I switch over to FOX and review two supernatural programs – the new hit, Terra Nova, and the returning favorite, Fringe.

Remember to stop by the #watchwed hashtag in Twitter to discuss any of today’s reviews, or to mention any television programs that you’d like to see on future Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday posts. 

A Recap of The WatchWed Review System:

GTV (Gourmet TV): Everything we want and more
MacTV (MacNCheese TV): Guilty pleasure. Not perfect, but is satisfies
JFTV (Junk food TV): It’s not great for us, but we’ll go back for seconds
SSTV (Still Simmering TV): It has potential, but the jury is still out
NIV (Nyquil Induced Viewing): Perfect for that late night television sleep timer
LOTV (Liver&Onions TV): Do we really have to explain? Blech

 [t1]Opening narration spoken by Steven Zirnkilton

24 Replies to “Why It’s Worth a Watch Wednesday – Last Law & Order Standing”

  1. Law and Order has always been welcome junk food in my house, although I was more of a Criminal Intent girl (insert unhealthy obsession with Vincent D’Onofrio here).

    I can’t seem to get behind SVU without Christopher Meloni, though.

    1. I really liked Criminal Intent. Vincent D’Onofrio is amazing. Some of the best episodes were centered around his character, especially with his nemesis (D’abo). SVU did a good job with the new cast of characters. I liked them both on their respective former shows…I’m just not sure it’s good enough to save the last L&O standing.

  2. I’ve always loved this show and the chemistry between Meloni and Hargitay. Sometimes the show can be a bit formulaic, but it’s their characters that I truly enjoyed. I’m not sure the show will be as good without them, but I’m giving it a shot as I do like Danny Pino.

  3. I’ve never watched the Law & Order series, probably for the reason you mentioned. When I see and hear all the bad things that happen to children and people, I lie awake at night with those thoughts churning in my head and a pit in my stomach. I am genuinely grateful for the law enforcement people who deal with these crimes, but I want my TV to help me escape. (Is that shallow?) On that note, I’m looking forward to your review of the sci-fi shows next week!

    1. Why would that be shallow, Julie? Watching crime dramas can definitely get into someone’s head. Take me for example: a great friend made fun of me this week because I never like to go out after dark by myself. Am I scared of the dark? NO! I’m simply trying to avoid the crimes that I see take place on TV, whether it be fictionalized accounts or true crime stories like 48 Hours Mystery. But, regardless of my crime induced paranoias, I can’t stop watching these shows! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I know everyone will think I’m from another planet…but I’ve never watched Law and Order. Not any of them. There’s only so much TV one person can watch!

    My husband watches Harry’s Law, and I caught a few episodes. It’s a really good show. I’ll pop over to Amber’s blog now.

  5. You’re probably going to ban me from your blog. I have never watched the first episode of Law and Order. My parents watch it, but I never got into it. We always like cheering for the bad guys, so we watched The Sopranos, Oz, Dexter, etc. instead of L & O. 😀

  6. Too bad Hargitay didn’t get her mother’s looks. Never really cared for this program. If you’re reduced to watching L&O reruns, Tiffany, they only have about 20 hours a day of them. Have fun.

  7. Ooo Law & Order SVU. This is my older daughters (a future lawyer) favorite show (including a big crush on Chris Meloni (and I mean who can blame her, even as a guy I have to admit he is hot). Great review, Tiffany!

    1. Future lawyer, eh? I’d love her take on the fictionalized accounts ripped from the headlines…do they push the envelope a bit too close for her taste? Wish her luck on her endeavors from me! 🙂

      1. Gene wins the award for my favorite comment. Thank you for admitting that Meloni is hot. It made me giggle. I’ll even forgive you for the coffee wasted as it traveled up my nose.

  8. You know other critics and fans want the original series revived, the short-lived LA spinoff renewed, and Criminal Intent renewed on NBC (w/ Erbe, since D’Onofrio has a new role in a show called “Blue Tilt”)


    facebooks: http://facebook.com/savelawandorderla & http://facebook.com/renewcriminalintent — what is NBC doing with the whack shows like Free Agents and The Playboy Club when they became known as “the Law & Order network”.

    1. To be honest, I would love to see the original Law & Order revived – or maybe just the freedom to wrap the series up accordingly with a miniseries or a few 2-hr long made for TV movies.

      I too enjoyed LA and was especially disappointed when NBC started airing the taped episodes out of order. I knew the show had been cancelled, but when the stories started jumping around I gave up. Ulrich was dead in one episode, and then solving murders in the next episode. Bad planning by the network, in my opinion.

      Criminal Intent was great – Goren and Eames were my favorite of all the L&O duos. I haven’t heard about Blue Tilt. I”ll have to check it out. Thanks for stopping by, Joshua!

      1. Geek time! Brancato (Exec Producer of Blue Tilt) was responsible for the last season of L&O: CI. He ran the show and was the head writer. So, it will be interesting to see what he does with D’Onofrio.

        (Yay for Joshua – he gets TV Geek points)

  9. I don’t watch Law & Order anymore, but thought I’d pop in to tell you I adore your ratings!

    Super fun and always makes me want to check out the gourmet shows! Alas, I have no more free time in my life. But I have you!

  10. Law and Order always had a knack for creating interesting characters, so as long as people give the new detectives a shot, the show can still be good. I hope it stays around.

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