Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Disturbing L&O Trend

There isn't much better than the brilliant consistency of Law & Order. Not the sex one, not the one starring Lilith from Cheers that isn't on TV anymore, not the one with that guy from Full Metal Jacket, but the original L&O originally starring Michigan native (and graduate from my high school) Michael Moriarty. I think according to L&O lore he is actually hiking through the mountains in Nepal or something like that right now (and astute TV watchers know that he was returned to earth on the show The 4400 and was given the ability to make minor earthquakes). A few months ago I wrote about a developing personal plot line in the series regarding one of the characters (played by S. Epatha Merkerson who is ALSO a Michigan native) and her ficitional battle with cancer in the show. This still remains a troubling part of the series because the show is attempting to veer into the personal character interest side of things that they have typically glossed over in the past via occasional mention (McCoy slept with an assistant lawyer who he later married and then divorced, Detective Curtis cheated on his wife with Julia Roberts [see correction in the comments section on this point] and later his wife was diagnosed with MS , Detective Briscoe had a drug addict daughter who was killed by a drug dealer). This cancer component is still a regular component of the show and I mentally tune out when we're forced to watch Lieutenant Van Buren in the doctor's office. If I was a good blogger, I would place a link here to this original post, but I can't find the original post in my history so I'll leave it up to my rabid readership to hunt it down (which means no one will ever see it again). update: I found it

After watching the episode from this week, I've noticed an even more disturbing trend in the direction of the conclusion of the individual shows. Going back over the past 20 seasons of Law & Order, one of the tried and true approaches of the ADAs has been to trick the bad guy into saying something incriminating on the stand. Sometimes it is a subtle slip up from the defendant, sometimes it is catching the person in a lie, and every once in awhile the perpetrator gets worked up and says something stupid like "I DID IT BECAUSE HE DESERVED IT." This last occurrence is the absolute best because most of the time the defendant carefully crafted the crime, perpetrated the act, and then painstakingly concealed it, but despite this level of planning and intelligence, the New York ADA could fool the criminal into shouting out publicly on the stand in front of the jury and declaring personal guilt.

I accept that sometimes the story writers have written themselves into a corner and there is no other way to cleverly reveal the defendant's guilt, so this is just one fallback solution in the bag of guilt-identification tricks. However, this season, the show is relying far too heavily on this crutch. It's kind of painful to watch 30 minutes of police investigation, 30 minutes of law process, and then Cutter says something to the criminal like "you can't control your girlfriend" and then the criminal says "that's not true, I made my girlfriend have SEX with that one member of the jury because I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT." I love you original Law & Order and I pray that you never leave this world, but endings like this make it easy to understand why it is so easy for some people to poke fun at the predictability and weaknesses in the show. You can do better.


Steven said...

Whoa, back the trolley up a minute. Detective Curtis didn't cheat on his wife with Julia Roberts. He cheated on his wife with some other unknown woman. He later told his wife, they separated, reconciled, and then she got MS. Julia Roberts was involved in another case later, originally as a witness. She and Det. Curtis had to hide out in a hotel for a night, but nothing happened. But when the case turned on Julia Roberts, she made it SEEM as though she and Curtis had slept together in that hotel room, citing his previous philanderings. Really, they had just talked about how hard his wife's life was with MS.

People should vote us into public office or something.

Ken said...

Yup fair point I made a mistake in my haste. Julia Roberts flirted with him in that episode and then accused him of sleeping with her. In actually, Curtis slept with Jennifer Garner after watching the lethal injection. Thanks for keeping me honest.