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

Tele-Tuesday #7 – Spring Cleaning

 

May sweeps used to indicate that the television industry saved the best for last.  The networks broadcast non-stop, action packed, cliff-hanging story lines every night of the week hoping to pull in the largest ratings of the year before announcing which shows would be receiving pink slips.  Times have changed, and today’s May sweeps ultimately means knowing which shows will return, and which shows will be swept away before the season finales have all aired.

Recent years prove that no show is safe: many shows are done after only one season, “One & Done”; some shows make it through the toddler years, a minimum of two or three seasons; some programs have aired for years, even decades with multi-generational loyal followers; and, some are still awaiting their destiny.  Television’s broom was very busy this year….

One & Done

 $H*! My Dad Says, 18 to Life, Better with You, Boston Med, Breaking In, Chaos, Chase, Chicago Code, Dating in the Dark, Law & Order: Los Angeles, Mad Love, Mr. Sunshine, My Generation, No Ordinary Family, Off the Map, Outlaw, Perfect Couples, Persons Unknown, Scoundrels, Skating with the Stars, The Cape, The Defenders, The Event, The Gates, The Good Guys, The Paul Reiser Show, The Whole Truth, Traffic Light, Undercovers

Terrible Twos & Threes

Dark Blue, Human Target, Life Unexpected

Seasoned Veterans

 Big Love, Brothers & Sisters, Entourage, Friday Night Lights , Last Comic Standing, Smallville

And the Answer is (Updated 5/18/11):

Criminal Minds (RENEWED),  Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (CANCELLED), CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (RENEWED), CSI: Miami (RENEWED), CSI: NY (RENEWED), The Good Wife (RENEWED), Hell Cats (CANCELLED), The Mentalist (RENEWED), NCIS: Los Angeles (RENEWED), Nikita (RENEWED), One Tree Hill (RENEWED),

Still Awaiting their Destiny: Flashpoint and Wipeout

On a positive note, not all chivalry is dead: some shows have earned advance notice that next season will be their last.  Thank you networks; thank you for allowing the writers to close out a series appropriately for the loyal fans.  This doesn’t happen all that often, just ask Law & Order.

All My Children – Last episode September 2011

 

Chuck – 13 episodes 2011/2012

  The Closer – Final season begins July 11,  2011

  Law & Order: Criminal Intent -Currently airing on USA

One Life to Live – Last episode January 2012

Seems a bit insane, doesn’t it?  What are the morals of today’s Tele-Tuesday?  Don’t get too attached to freshman television series, and no television show is safe from May sweeps.

The TV world’s information is so very scattered right now, and the networks will undoubtedly continue announcing changes in the days to come.  In the meantime, here are a few websites to check out for more information:

 TV Series Finale

Hollywood Reporter

Which of these cancellations came too soon?  Over the years, what television series has been cancelled that you still mourn?  Which network do you think sweeps the most shows in the trash before giving the audience a chance to watch week in and week out?  I’d love to hear from you!