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 #8 – New to Summer 2011

Every summer, the major networks pick up at least one new show hoping to break it big with huge ratings success.  With June just a hop-skip-and-a-jump away, here are a few of the programs that might fit your television tastes.  Give ‘em a try!

ABC: The Hot ZoneThe new medical drama

The Hot Zone follows the medical staff, consisting of nurses and doctors from the allied nations (the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia), in Afghanistan as they treat the men and women fighting to protect their country’s freedom.  The show stars a few familiar faces: Elias Koteas (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Shutter Island), Michelle Borth (The Forgotten and Hawaii Five-0), and Luke Mably (The Gates).  Premiers Tuesday, June 21ST

NBC: Love BitesThe new romantic comedy

Love Bites follows a single girl (Becki Newton from Ugly Betty and Guiding Light) dating in New York City while searching for love, and a Venice Beach married couple (Constance Zimmer from Entourage and Boston Legal, and Greg Grunberg from Heroes and Alias). Love Bites plans to feature an array of guest stars including Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer), Lindsay Price (90210 and Eastwick), and Guillermo Diaz (Weeds and Half Baked) just to name a few. Premiers Thursday, June 2ND

USA: Necessary Roughness – The new sports series

Necessary Roughness follows a New York woman attempting to balance her family and her career following a recent divorce.  She accepts a position as a therapist for a professional football team, and is assigned to assist the team’s star receiver in actually catching the ball.  Callie Thorne (Rescue Me and Prison Break) stars as Dani Santino along with Scott Cohen (The Gilmore Girls and Law & Order: Trial by Jury), Mehcad Brooks (True Blood and Desperate Housewives), and Marc Blucas (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Knight and Day).  As an added bonus, the show is inspired by a true story.  Premiers Wednesday, June 29th

USA: Suits – The new legal series

Instructed by a partner to hire another brilliant Harvard Law graduate for his Manhattan law firm, Harvey Specter (Gabriel Macht from Whiteout and Love and Other Drugs) recruits a brilliant new associate, Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams from Friday Night Lights and many other cameo appearances on popular television shows).  But, Mike has a huge secret – he never graduated college, yet alone law school.  The two unconventional minds work together balancing the law and lying to everyone – now that’s a dilemma, right?  Premiers Thursday, June 23rd

Unfortunately, many of the summer shows on the basic cable channels don’t fare well; however, there are a few that return this year including Rookie Blue (ABC) and Flashpoint (CBS).  The USA network, on the other hand, ROCKS the summer broadcasting, and I’m personally looking forward to their new shows this summer!

What shows are you looking forward to checking out this summer? Do you prefer sex, dating, and  marriage comedies, medical dramas, legal series, or sports-themed television?  I’d love to hear from you!