Monday, May 24, 2010
Law & Order: UK
Law & Order: UK is based in London.
Law & Order: UK (also known as: Law & Order: London in Ireland) is the latest member of the Law & Order franchise, one of the most successful brands in American primetime television. To summarise the premise of Law & Order: UK, its variation on the famous Law & Order opening statement is:
“ In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime, and the Crown Prosecutors who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories. ”
Law & Order: UK is based in London and duplicates the episode format of the original series. The first half focuses on the perpetration of a crime and the related police investigation typically culminating in an arrest, while the second half follows the legal and court proceedings in an effort to convict the suspect. The show dwells little on the characters' back-stories or social lives, focusing mainly on their lives at work.
Law & Order: UK had been a dream of creator Dick Wolf's for a long time. The first 13 episodes are based on scripts from the original Law & Order series to accommodate contractual requirements with his company and to build on the experience with successful storytelling. The episodes were picked by show runner and lead writer Chris Chibnall, who had previously worked on Torchwood, Life on Mars and Born and Bred.
Chibnall delved through the so-called Law & Order bible (a collection of synopses for every episode) and watched the series on DVD before picking 15-16 that would translate well to British television. The final 13 episodes are the favourites of Chibnall and producer Richard Stokes, although one episode had to be replaced due to incompatibility with English law. Stokes considered a 13-episode series to be quite long for British television drama, and described the pacing as "the only real challenge", whereas Dick Wolf was disappointed at the short series, as the American series typically run for more than 20 episodes per season. Wolf further hopes that the show will succeed sufficiently to allow him to push ITV for more episodes per series. The scripts have been updated for contemporariness, and while the difficulties of adapting the scripts for the English legal system exceeded the expectations of the production team, Stokes opined that audiences familiar with both shows would enjoy them for their distinctions. Comparing UK with the original Law & Order, Wolf described the biggest difference as the wigs, "The law is not really that dissimilar and, you know, murder is murder." It is unknown if a possible second series of Law & Order: UK would re-use original Law & Order scripts.
The filming of Law & Order: UK began in January 2008. Despite concerns expressed by star Jamie Bamber and Variety magazine as to the possibility of a second series, it was announced in June 2009 that ITV had commissioned a second series of 13 episodes to be produced in the second half of 2009 and broadcast in 2010.
Sets and shooting
The Old Bailey, Sunday shooting location for
the series (14 June 2004)
Law & Order: UK frequently shoots on-location around London, including some footage taken in the Old Bailey, the Central Criminal Court, on Sundays. The filming of the courtroom interior, the police station, and the CPS offices takes place on sets built in disused Ministry of Defence buildings at Qinetiq, off the M25 motorway around Surrey. The police station's sets were designed with an eye to realism, tchotchkes and personal items adorn the desks, while an ironing board and clean shirts are around for the eventuality of police officers heading to court.
Exemplar Law & Order: UK black-and-white intertitle from "Care"
Many of the familiar hallmarks of the original Law & Order were carried through to this iteration, including the opening music stylings, black-and-white intertitles, and hand-held camera work; Stokes was especially pleased to be able to use Kudos' method of "guerilla filming" on the streets of London. The so-called Dick Wolf Cash Register Sound — "the little 'dum dum' sound"— separates scenes as well.
TV3 began to show the programme in Ireland, one day after its ITV showing, where it is billed as Law and Order: London. Citytv broadcast the first series in Canada starting 11 June 2009. As of August 2009 Network Ten broadcasts the series in Australia.. Other countries to have picked up the series include France
In a December 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jamie Bamber speculated that the show may also be broadcast in the United States, possibly on one of NBC's cable stations. Law & Order creator Dick Wolf also expressed interest in airing the UK version in the United States, believing it would be strong enough to air on NBC on Saturday nights. In a February 2009 interview, Wolf also hinted at the possibility of a crossover episode on one of the two series. Beyond Law & Order: UK, Wolf has mentioned that he would love to have an iteration of the show set in a major Muslim city such as Cairo.
The cast of Law & Order: UK
Detective Sergeant Ronnie Brooks played by Bradley Walsh
Detective Sergeant Matt Devlin played by Jamie Bamber
Detective Inspector Natalie Chandler played by Harriet Walter
Senior Crown Prosecutor James Steel played by Ben Daniels
Junior Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips played by Freema Agyeman
Director of CPS London George Castle played by Bill Paterson
The recurring cast for the first two series' included Jessica Gunning,
Tariq Jordan, Nicola Sanderson, Nicholas Blane
and Gillian McCutcheon.
Guest stars in the first series include Holly Aird, Iain Glen, Colin Salmon, Juliet Aubrey, Sean Pertwee, Frances Barber, Derek Riddell, and Keith Barron. Answering fans' inquiries in February 2009 as to whether Law & Order: Special Victims Unit character John Munch—played by Richard Belzer—will appear on Law & Order: UK, Chibnall joked that he believed it was a contractual obligation.
Series 1 (2009)
Originally planned for a single series, the first run was broadcast as two separate series in the UK, with episodes 1–7 being shown in 2009 and episodes 8–13 in 2010.
# Title Directed by Written by Original airdate Viewing figures Original Law & Order episode
1 "Care" Omar Madha Chris Chibnall 23 February 2009 6.96 million "Cradle to Grave" (31 March 1992)
After Dionne Farrah (Venetia Campbell) leaves her dead nine-month old son at a local hospital, Brooks & Devlin discover that the boy was poisoned by the gas heater in his flat. Fellow tenant Mike Turner (Tony Maudsley) is arrested for sabotaging the heater as a means of getting rid of tenants who refused to vacate their homes for more profitable developers. However, the case is declared a mistrial when it is claimed that the testimony of a French-speaking witness was wrongly translated. Turner's boss, Maureen Walters (Lorraine Ashbourne), is found guilty after the CPS receive testimony that she bribed environmental inspection officials to ignore her tenants' complaints. Patrick Malahide guest stars as the devious and unprincipled defence barrister Robert Ridley QC.
2 "Unloved" Andy Goddard Terry Cafolla 2 March 2009 6.24 million "Born Bad" (16 November 1993)
Brooks and Devlin are emotionally affected by the case of an unidentifiable 13-year-old boy who was kicked to death at Euston Station. DI Chandler holds a press conference which leads to identifying the victim as Danny Jackson who was in foster care. The trail leads to the arrest of another young boy who was also in care at the same house as Danny. Steel and Phillips face an "old flame" from Steel's past in defence barrister Beatrice McArdle (Dervla Kirwan), who attempts an audacious defence of genetic predisposition towards violence: the suggestion that genes could be responsible for aggressive behaviour. This could upset the whole British legal system since other defendants could claim that genes means that they are not responsible for their actions.
3 "Vice" Omar Madha Chris Chibnall 9 March 2009 6.61 million "Working Mom" (26 February 1997
The murder of an ex-vice cop in Paddington leads Brooks and Devlin to investigate both the victim's boss (Sean Pertwee) and a children's clothing store in Barnes (run by Juliet Aubrey and Deborah Cornelius), only to discover that it is a front for a escort girl service. Steel and Phillips face off against "formidable defence barrister" Phyllis Gladstone (Lesley Manville), who presents a case of self-defence.
4 "Unsafe" Andy Goddard Chris Chibnall 16 March 2009 6.24 million "American Dream" (9 November 1993)
The unearthing of a shallow grave aside the Thames forces Brooks and Devlin to reopen a contentious murder case that Steel himself prosecuted eight years prior. As a result, it would appear that Luke Slade (Iain Glen), convicted of the murder of his business partner, is the victim of a miscarriage of justice. Steel himself, however, is far from convinced and, when Slade represents himself in court, it becomes less about the trial and more about the vendetta between the two men.
5 "Buried" Mark Everest Catherine Tregenna 23 March 2009 6.69 million "...In Memory of" (November 5, 1991)
The remains of an eight-year-old boy, later identified as Tommy Keegan, are uncovered, twenty-five years after he was reported missing. His childhood friend, Julia Mortimer (Holly Aird), reluctantly agrees to undergo EMDR therapy and this leads to a history of sexual abuse and abuse of trust. However, Steel soon finds that his whole case rests on a very upset and potentially unreliable witness. Guest-stars Keith Barron as the defendant.
6 "Paradise" Tristram Powell Chris Chibnall 30 March 2009 5.87 million "Heaven" (26 November 1991)
When an arson attack on a Turkish club claims 17 lives, Brooks and Devlin are under pressure to discover just who was behind it. What was first thought of as a racist attack soons turns out to be a lot more complicated and is not helped when a suspect's human rights gets in the way of obtaining crucial evidence. Even when that is overcome, the prosecutors struggle to build a case as a conflict emerges between justice, community relations and racial harmony and Steel himself faces an awkward situation with an old friend.
7 "Alesha" Mark Everest Catherine Tregenna 6 April 2009 6.02 million "Helpless" (4 November 1992)
Phillips accuses respected gynaecologist Dr. Alec Merrick of sexually assaulting her during a routine examination, but Brooks, Devlin and Chandler struggle to find any firm evidence and the team becomes divided. Phillips then resorts to desperate means to obtain justice only to make things worse for herself and Steel is pitted against formidable defence barrister Phyllis Gladstone (Lesley Manville). In a June 2009 interview with Digital Spy, Freema Agyeman (Alesha Phillips) described the episode and its content as "the biggest challenge I've ever been faced with in my career".
Series 2 (2010)
# Title Directed by Written by Original airdate Viewing figures Original Law & Order episode
1 "Samaritan" Andy Goddard Chris Chibnall 30 July 2009 (Canada)
11 January 2010 (UK) 6.51 million "Manhood" (12 May 1993)
When a police constable, Nick Bentley, is shot by drug dealers while on foot patrol it seems like a pretty straightforward case. Brooks and Devlin eventually locate a witness who identifies one of the parties to the drug transaction and he finally tells the police what really happened. The witness also tells them something else: she saw another police constable standing in the shadows while the injured policeman was calling for help. The dead man's partner, PC Ray Griffin, claims to have been several blocks away when his partner was shot and lay bleeding to death but Brooks and Devlin find an anomaly in his formal statement and they decide to investigate. What they learn is that Bentley's fellow constables had recently learned of his sexual orientation and that his partner Griffin is the head of a Christian group of officers that rejects gays. For the Crown prosecutors, the question is whether they can make an argument that Griffin had a duty of care and was obliged to help his dying partner.
2 "Hidden" Julian Holmes Emilia di Girolamo 6 August 2009 (Canada)
18 January 2010 (UK) 6.53 million "Bitter Fruit" (20 September 1995)
Devlin and Brooks investigate the murder of a young girl, 10 year-old Jodie Gaines, who was kidnapped some two weeks before and has now been located, dead, in a rubbish bin. Witnesses on the day of the kidnapping reported seeing a white van in the area and they soon arrest Nick Carlton who is charged with murder. He is no sooner released on bail that he is killed by the dead girl's grieving mother, Kayleigh, a recovering drug addict who is separated from her husband who had formal custody of the child. Crown prosecutor James Steel seeks a murder conviction, even though he knows that Kayleigh will likely have the sympathy of the court. When it appears that Kayleigh is to be set free, Devlin and Brooks uncover a crucial piece of information.
3 "Community Service" Ken Grieve Catherine Tregenna 13 August 2009 (Canada)
25 January 2010 (UK) 6.07 million "Volunteers" (29 September 1993)
The police investigate an attack on a homeless bipolar man who is found severely beaten in a neighborhood park. The investigation reveals that the CCTV cameras had been turned away indicating that the attack may not have been random. They also find that many in the neighborhood are tight-lipped about the incident or about anything that might have happened on the night in question. When they do make an arrest, it falls to James Steel to make the case. Given the homeless man's record of constantly interfering and threatening however, will he be able to convince a jury that the attacker was doing anything but a public service?
4 "Sacrifice" Robert Del Maestro Terry Cafolla and
Nathan Cockerill 20 August 2009 (Canada)
1 February 2010 (UK) 6.06 million "Sonata For Solo Organ" (2 April 1991)
When a man is found lying on the ground with a kidney surgically removed, Brooks and Devlin have a case that they believed fell more into the category of urban myth than real-life crime. They quickly focus on finding the intended recipient of the stolen organ. Transplantation is highly controlled and centralized to prevent queue jumping but they soon find a recent transplantation that was completed from outside the system. They soon uncover a tale of a sick woman, a concerned parent and a greedy, disgruntled surgeon. For James Steel, the question becomes one of which of these to prosecute. When he makes his choice, he finds that his boss, George Castle, will defend the case.
5 "Love and Loss" Mark Everest Terry Cafolla 27 August 2009 (Canada)
8 February 2010 (UK) 6.34 million "Consultation" (9 December 1992)
When 18 year-old Debbie Powell dies from a heroin overdose just as she returns to the UK from a holiday in Thailand, the police learn that she was a drug mule with over 70 condoms of the drug in her stomach. With the dead girl far from being the usual drug mule the police try to understand why a young woman from a reasonably well-off family would get involved in drug smuggling. Her two traveling companions ran away after the girl died but they know she was to meet her boyfriend immediately on their return. When an arrest is made, James Steel and the Prosecution Service not only charge him drug importation but also with manslaughter, arguing that he had a duty of care with respect to the young woman. The man seems to have a history of seducing young women and using them as mules but in court, the Crown's principal witness recants his earlier statement saying the police coerced him. Steel pursues another strategy to ensure justice is done.
6 "Honour Bound" Andy Goddard Chris Chibnall 3 September 2009 (Canada)
15 February 2010 (UK) 6.28 million "Corruption" (30 October 1996)
When an undercover drug buy goes wrong, DS Ronnie Brooks finds himself in a very difficult spot. Brooks and DS Jimmy Valentine are posing as drug dealers when Valentine shoots the dealer claiming the man pulled a gun on him. Brooks was behind their car at the time and saw nothing but has known Valentine for many years and has no reason to doubt him. DS Matt Devlin on the other hand did not see the dead man pull a gun or do anything threatening and is given 24 hours by DI Natalie Chandler to find evidence or shut up. When the Crown Prosecution Service charges Valentine, the dirty cop testifies that Brooks was in on a drug theft. Ronnie has to call on an old friend to testify on his behalf but at a great cost to herself.
Independent writer Robin Jarossi attended a special preview of the premiere episode at the British Film Institute in London (attended to by Wolf, Chibnall, Daniels, and Agyeman) on 5 February 2009. Jarossi praised the uniquely British take on the franchise for balancing the new vision while maintaining the proven Law & Order formula. Jarossi specifically extolled the unexpected casting of Bradley Walsh, the excellent use of their London backdrop, and Chibnall's adaptation of the show. John Boland of the Irish Independent compared Law & Order: UK to the original, ultimately deciding that the former is just as engrossing as the latter, if its tone is slightly more jocular. Boland expects ITV "[has] a winner on its hands." Andrew Billen from The Times expects the series to be successful based on the premiere episode, and TV Times said that "those concerned can give themselves a pat on the back because this really, really works." The Daily Express' Matt Baylis described the new series as "a breath of fresh air [...], and the Daily Mirror said "It’s all highly professional and heroic." Variety magazine called the series a hit, quoting NBC Universal as saying, "'Law and Order' has won its slot every week and is actually increasing its ratings."[
While Radio Times reviewer Alison Graham felt the series' execution was adequate, she criticized its pacing and writing; the former for not matching that of the original Law & Order programmes, and the latter for "[falling] headfirst into a typically British legal-drama trap of the noble prosecutor [...] crusading to bring the guilty to justice while pitted against the louche, self-serving defence barrister." Whereas, on the other hand, The Guardian's Sarah Dempster didn't feel that using the original series' camera work and stylings was appropriate for British crime drama: "Fiddly. And wrong.". However, later on in the series' run The Observer's Kathryn Flytt writes that despite her initial prejudices, the series "seems to have absorbed the pace and energy of the original without looking too tricksily derivative".
In Australia, Melinda Houston commented favourably in The Age on the show's opening series; opining that the fusion between British crime drama and the US Law and Order Franchise is like "a match made in Heaven." The premiere episode which aired on 12 August 2009, only rated 775,000 viewers (compared with the average numbers of 1 million viewers on the major commercial networks) and was outside the top 15 rated shows for that period.
Region DVD Title Includes Release Date Number of Episodes Special Features / Notes
2 Series One Episodes 1-7 11 January 2010 7 Audio Commentary
Care: Alternative Beginning
Vice: Summing Up
CPS Set Tour
Interviews with Dick Wolf, Bradley Walsh,Jamie Bamber and Chris Chibnall
2 Series Two Episodes 8-13 22 February 2010 6 Audio Commentaries
Interviews with Richard Stokes, Harriet Walter and Robert Glenister
Police Set Tour
1 Season One Series 1&2 23 March 2010 13 Audio Commentaries
Care: Alternative Beginning
Vice: Summing Up
CPS Set Tour
Interviews with Dick Wolf, Bradley Walsh,Jamie Bamber, Richard Stokes, Harriet Walter and Robert Glenister and Chris Chibnall
Police Set Tour
This Region 1 release was made available exclusively through Target stores in the U.S.