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

Tiffany’s Tele-Tuesday #2 – This one? Or that one?

This one? Or that one?

Do you ask yourself these very questions if and when you have a free hour to watch television? 

I realize that most people don’t watch (or DVR in my case) four to ten hours of television a night — so, I am here to help you! 

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation versus CSI: Miami versus CSI:NY

My #1 – CSI: NY.  The addition of Sela Ward this season really helps make up for losing Melina Kanakaredes, and Gary Sinise is always great.  I feel the ensemble cast of NY wins against the other two CSI shows, and New York City is a wonderful supporting cast member.  I also like the NY storylines a bit more than the others CSI shows — the crimes appear to be a bit more believable.  I do hope the remainder of the 2011 season brings more of David James Elliott’s guest appearances as a FBI agent.  Plus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that I have a small crush on Carmine Giovinazzo (Danny Messer). 

 

My #2 – CSI: Miami.  I love the bright colors and shots of Miami throughout the episodes; however, Horatio Caine, his sunglasses, and his one-liners drive me nuts!  Honestly, if it wasn’t for Horatio, Miami may rank above NY.  I must admit though, Horatio and his sunglasses have become a staple for the show.  I love Calleigh Duquesne, and I applaud the show’s attempts at covering Emily Procter’s pregnancy since they chose not to write it into the storyline.  I can’t wait for next season when Calleigh has more scenes, and hopefully the show re-explores the Calleigh/Eric Delko relationship.  Major kudos to Miami for bringing back Adam Rodriquez’s character, Delko.  I liked Eddie Cibrian, but it just wasn’t the same. 

My #3 – the original, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  The Vegas edition has been through a lot in its 11 years on the air.  The original cast has dwindled: Grissom is off the screen even though William Peterson is still involved with the production; they killed Gary Dourdan, aka Warrick Brown, and he was probably my favorite.  The show has tried to redeem itself with the addition of Lawrence Fishburne, and that did help.  The show also brought Jorja Fox back after a brief hiatus.  But, unfortunately, the storylines too often reach far beyond the norm making it last on my list — but then again, it’s Vegas, baby!  You may now think I’m stranger than you once thought, but a part of me watches to support my fellow Red Raider: Guns’ Up – George Eads, aka Nick Stokes. 

The Law & Order franchise – Law and Order: SVU versus Law and Order: Criminal Intent versus Law and Order: LA

My #1 – Law and Order: Criminal Intent.  NBC dropped CI a few years ago, but the USA network picked it right up.  They’ve waffled a bit with characters: Chris Noth, Jeff Goldblum, Annabella Sciorra, Saffron Burrows, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Alicia Witt — all big names, but still not the originals – Vincent D’Onofrio (Goren) and Kathryn Erbe (Eames).  CI returns this May for its final season on USA.  Goren and Eames may be on my top all-time partner list along with Booth & Bones (Bones), Crockett & Tubbs (Miami Vice), and Maddie Hayes & David Addison (Moonlighting).  Goren & Eames’ partnership works, and I’m glad they’re back to close out a solid show. 

My #2 – Law and Order: SVU.  SVU has another great ensemble cast, but showcases gut-wrenching storylines.  The Special Victims Unit works assault and rape cases led by Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), and her partner, Elliott Stabler (Christopher Meloni).  Benson, the product of her mother’s rape, and Stabler, the father of five children, take the cases personally and sometimes they take actions that we as viewers wish we could see more of on television (in other words, they’re not always by the book).  The main characters are joined by Tutuola (Ice-T), also not by-the-book, and Munch (Richard Belzer), who adds a small comedic touch to the otherwise dark story.  SVU loads the guest stars into each season.  So far in the 2010-2011 season, the show has featured Jeremy Irons, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Marcia Gay Harden, Debra Messing, Rose McGowen, and many more.  Warning – the writers don’t sugar-coat things.  If you don’t like watching bad things happen to children, don’t watch! 

My #3 – Law and Order: LA.  NBC rushed LA to make up for the fact they cancelled the original Law & Order without much warning after 20 years.  I shelved my frustrations, and I looked forward to the new cast led by Skeet Ulrich.  NBC aired a few episodes this fall, and then bam, it was gone.  After more than a 4 month hiatus, LA returned last night with a BANG.  Yea, they really did kill off Skeet Ulrich.  I don’t mean to ruin it for anyone, but it aired last night.  A small redemption: former Law & Order cast member Alana de la Garza (also formerly of CSI: Miami) has joined the LA cast.  Now the show is led by Terrence Howard and Alfred Molina, and I’m quite sure they can hold their own.  I’m not giving up yet, but as it stands now, LA is the low-Law and Order on my totem pole.   

Do you battle with This One or That One?  If so, who do you choose?  I’d love to hear from you! 

Tune in to Tele-Tuesday these upcoming weeks for more: Criminal Minds versus Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior; NCIS versus NCIS: Las Angeles; Archer versus Family Guy; Hawaii Five-O versus Blue Bloods; Rizzoli & Isles versus Body of Proof