Monday, May 24, 2010
Law & Order
Set and filmed in New York City, the series follows a two part approach: in the first half hour, the investigation of a crime and apprehension of a suspect by New York City police detectives is shown, followed by the prosecution of the offenders by the Manhattan District Attorney's office in the second half. Plots are often based on real cases that have recently made headlines. The show has been noted for its revolving cast over the years. Its current season stars Jeremy Sisto as Detective Cyrus Lupo, Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard, Linus Roache as Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter, and Alana de la Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa.
The success of the series has led to the creation of additional shows within the Law & Order franchise, a television film, several video games, and international adaptations of the series. It has won and been nominated for numerous awards over the years, including a number of Emmy awards. On May 14, 2010, NBC announced that it had canceled Law & Order and would air the final episode on May 24, 2010. Wolf has since stated that he is trying to find a new home for the show to continue as a weekly series. Should all efforts to find a new home for the show fail, Wolf is also considering a "last resort" plan to conclude the show with a two hour TV film to air on NBC.
History and development
In 1988, Dick Wolf developed a concept for a new television series that would depict a relatively optimistic picture of the American justice system. He initially toyed with the idea of calling it Night & Day but then hit upon the title Law & Order. For the first half of each episode, the show would follow two detectives and their commanding officer as they investigate a violent crime. The second half of the show would center around the District Attorney's Office and the courts as three prosecutors attempt to convict the criminal. Through this, Law & Order would be able to investigate some of the larger issues of the day by focusing on stories that were based on real cases making headlines.
Wolf took the idea to then-president of Universal Television Kerry McCluggage, who pointed out the similarity to a 1963 series titled Arrest and Trial that lasted one season. The two watched the pilot of that series, in which a police officer, played by Ben Gazzara, arrested a man for armed robbery in the first half, and the defense attorney, played by Chuck Connors gets the perpetrator off as the wrong guy. Wolf discovered this was the formula of the show every week, and decided that, while his detectives would occasionally be fallible as Gazzara's was, he wanted a fresh approach to the genre that would go from police procedural to prosecution with a greater degree of realism. In addition, the prosecution would be the hero instead of the defense, a reversal of the usual formula in lawyer dramas.
Initially, the show was ordered by Fox for thirteen episodes with no pilot based on the concept alone. The decision was reversed by then-network head Barry Diller, who loved the idea but did not believe it was a Fox show. Wolf then went to CBS, which ordered a pilot, "Everybody's Favorite Bagman", written by Wolf, which centered around corrupt city officials involved with the mob. The network liked the pilot but did not order it because there were no breakout stars in the show. In the summer of 1989, NBC's top executives, Brandon Tartikoff and Warren Littlefield, screened the pilot and liked it, but were concerned the intensity of the series could not be repeated on a week by week basis. However, there was enough faith from executives that the series was innovative and could appeal to a wide audience that the series was ordered by NBC for a full season in 1990.
The series is shot on location in New York City and is known for its extensive use of local color. In recent seasons, New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, attorney William Kunstler and Bronx Congressman José Serrano all have appeared on the show as themselves. Local personalities also have had recurring cameos as fictional characters, such as Donna Hanover and Fran Lebowitz as judges. On September 14, 2004, in New York City, a road leading to Pier 62 at Chelsea Piers (where the series is mostly shot) was renamed "Law & Order Way" in tribute to the series.
Music and sound effects
The Law & Order "clang" sound
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The music for Law & Order is composed by veteran composer Mike Post. The music is deliberately designed to be minimalist to match the abbreviated style of the series.Post wrote the theme song using electric piano, guitar, and clarinet. In addition, scene changes are accompanied by a tone generated by Post. He refers to the tone as "The Clang," while Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker has referred to the sound as the "ominous chung CHUNG" and Richard Belzer as "the Dick Wolf Cash Register Sound." The tone consists of only two notes and was generated electronically combining six or seven different sounds to get just the right deadbolt effect. Post has noted one of the sounds the interlude incorporates the sound of "five hundred Japanese men stamping their feet on a wooden floor. The sound has become so associated with the Law & Order brand that it was also carried over to other series of the franchise.
Casting and characters
The twentieth and last season cast of Law & Order; from left, S. Epatha Merkerson as Van Buren (which she has played for 13 seasons), Jeremy Sisto as Lupo, Anthony Anderson as Bernard, Sam Waterston as McCoy, Alana de la Garza as Rubirosa, and Linus Roache as Cutter.
For the 1988 pilot, George Dzundza and Chris Noth were cast as the original detectives, Sergeant Max Greevey and Mike Logan. Among others, Dzundza was up against Jerry Orbach for the role, and the producers felt that Dzundza would be a perfect senior police officer as he was someone the producers felt they could see themselves riding along with in a police cruiser. Noth and Michael Madsen were candidates for the role of Logan. Madsen initially was considered the perfect choice for the role, but, in a final reading, it was felt that Madsen's acting mannerisms were repetitive, and Noth received the role instead. Rounding out the police cast, Dann Florek was cast as Captain Donald Cragen.
On the prosecutor's side, Michael Moriarty was Dick Wolf's choice to play Chief Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone. The network, however, preferred James Naughton, but, in the end, Wolf's choice would prevail, and Moriarty received the role. As his ADA, Richard Brooks and Eriq La Salle were being considered for the role of Paul Robinette. The network favored La Salle but, once again, the producers' choice prevailed, and Brooks received the role.As their boss, Roy Thinnes was cast as District Attorney Alfred Wentworth.
Nearly two years passed between the pilot and production of the series. The producers held options on Dzundza, Noth, Moriarty, and Brooks. Each was paid holding money for the additional year and brought back. Florek also returned. Thinnes, however, was starring in Dark Shadows and declined to return. In his place, the producers tapped Steven Hill to play District Attorney Adam Schiff, a character loosely based on real-life Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau. Hill brought prestige and experience to the show and, as such, the producers allowed Hill to give insight on the direction he thought the character should go.
Dzundza was disappointed when he realized the show would be more of an ensemble show than a show starring him. Though the cast liked his portrayal of Greevey, they increasingly felt uncomfortable around Dzundza, who was also under stress due to the constant commute between New York City and his home in Los Angeles. Dzundza quit after only one season on the show. Dzundza was replaced on the show by Paul Sorvino as Detective Sergeant Phil Cerreta, who was considered more even tempered than either Greevey or Logan. Sorvino was initially excited about the role, but would leave after twenty-nine episodes, citing the exhausting schedule demanded by filming of the show, a need to broaden his horizons, and the desire to preserve his vocal chords for singing opera as reasons for leaving the show.
Also introduced on a recurring basis in the second season was Carolyn McCormick as Dr. Elizabeth Olivet, a police psychiatrist brought in on a case-by-case basis. NBC had been pushing for the producers to add female characters to the all male cast. She was added to the opening credits as "also starring" in seasons three and four but, despite the attempts of the producers to include her in as many episodes as possible, it was found to be difficult to incorporate her into the show due to the format leaning heavy on the police and prosecutors. She was removed from the credits in season five.McCormick stayed with the show on a recurring basis, but believed that the character had become less profound and complex, and that her role had been reduced mostly to "psychobabble." She left to star in Cracker after the eighth season.After the cancellation of Cracker, she returned beginning in the thirteenth season and has appeared occasionally since.
Jerry Orbach was initially hesitant about starring in an hour long drama after witnessing the exhausting effect it had on his friend David Janssen on The Fugitive, but changed his mind as he got older. He had twice before auditioned for the role of the senior detective in 1988 and 1991. When Dzundza and Sorvino were picked instead of him, he made a guest appearance as a defense lawyer in the season two episode "The Wages of Love." While there, Orbach heard Sorvino raving about the quality of the show and how Sorvino believed he had found a winning series to do. After Sorvino's departure during the third season, Orbach decided to audition a third time and was given the role of Detective Lennie Briscoe.
By the end of the third season, network executives still felt the show did not have enough female characters. On the orders of Warren Littlefield, new female characters had to be added to the cast or the show would face possible cancellation on its relegated Friday night time slot. Wolf realized that, since there were only six characters on the show, someone had to be fired. He choose Florek and Brooks, and later said it was the hardest two phone calls he had ever made. Though producers initially claimed the firings, especially Brooks, who was said not to get along with Moriarty, were for other reasons, Wolf confirmed that the firings were on the orders of Littlefield. To replace Florek, S. Epatha Merkerson was cast as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren. Jill Hennessy replaced Brooks as Assistant District Attorney Claire Kincaid.
Meanwhile, Moriarty's behavior both on and off the set became problematic for Wolf. After a public statement in which Moriarty called Attorney General Janet Reno a "psychopathic Nazi" for her efforts to censor television violence, Moriarty engaged in a verbal confrontation with Reno at a dinner in Washington, D.C. Wolf asked Moriarty to tone down his comments, and Moriarty responded by quitting the show the next week. To replace Moriarty, Sam Waterston was Wolf's first choice to join the cast as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, a character markedly different from Moriarty's Stone in that McCoy was conceived as more emotionally stable and having more sex appeal than Stone.
Wolf fired Noth when his contract ended at the end of season five because he felt that Briscoe and Logan were too alike and the writers were having trouble finding ways to write them since they agreed on everything. Noth had been disgruntled with the show since the firings of Florek and Brooks, and remained embittered against Wolf, who he felt was not a friend to his actors. The decision to fire Noth was extremely controversial with fans and critics alike, who felt that Noth's absence left a void on the show that was never filled. Noth was replaced by Benjamin Bratt as Detective Rey Curtis, who was hired in an attempt to find an actor even sexier than Noth to join the cast.
Hennessy chose not to renew her three year contract at the end of the sixth season to pursue other projects. She was replaced by Carey Lowell as Assistant District Attorney Jamie Ross. Lowell remained with the show for two seasons until the end of season eight, when she left the show to spend more time with her daughter. Lowell was replaced by Angie Harmon as Assistant District Attorney Abbie Carmichael, who was conceived as being much louder and outspoken than any of her predecessors. Harmon auditioned with eighty-five other women, including Vanessa Williams, for the role, and was picked after Wolf heard her Texan accent.
Bratt left the series at the end of the ninth season, stating it was an amicable departure and he expected to eventually return for guest appearances. He was replaced by Jesse L. Martin as Detective Ed Green, who was conceived of as more of a loose cannon in the mold of Logan than Bratt's Curtis had been. In 2000, Hill announced he was leaving the series at the end of season 10. Hill, who was the last remaining member of the original cast, said his departure was mutual with the producers. He was replaced by Dianne Wiest as Interim District Attorney Nora Lewin. The following year, Harmon departed the show after three seasons and was replaced by Elisabeth Röhm as Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn.After two seasons, Wiest left the show at the end of the twelfth season and was replaced by retiring Senator Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch, whose character was conceived of as being much more right leaning than his predecessors in the DA's office, and was a direct reaction to the September 11 attacks.
After twelve years on Law & Order, Orbach announced in 2004 that he was leaving the show for the third Law & Order spin-off, Law & Order: Trial by Jury. At the time, Orbach would not state the reason for his departure. In December of the same year, however, Orbach revealed he had prostate cancer and Wolf said the role on Trial by Jury was designed to be less taxing than his role on the original series. Orbach was only able to film two episodes of Trial by Jury before succumbing to his cancer on December 28, 2004. Orbach was replaced on Law & Order by Dennis Farina as Detective Joe Fontana.
The fifteenth season would also see the departure of Röhm mid-season. Röhm had never been popular with fans, and her departure has been called the worst in the franchise's history, with Southerlyn implying to McCoy and Branch that she is being fired because she is lesbian, a fact never cited before her departure. Wolf said Röhm's departure was unexpected, and she exited the show in January 2005. Her replacement was Annie Parisse as Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Borgia. Later that season, Martin departed early for the season to film Rent. During his absence, he was temporarily replaced by Michael Imperioli as Detective Nick Falco. Parisse left the series at the end of the sixteenth season when Borgia was killed, and Farina announced shortly afterwords that he was leaving Law & Order to pursue other projects.
By this point, NBC executives believed the franchise was beginning to show its age as ratings for the show had dropped 15 percent from the previous season and 30 percent over the previous three seasons.Farina had never been popular with fans when he replaced Orbach, and it was felt that the cast just did not seem to mesh well together. In an effort to revitalize the show, Wolf brought in Alana de la Garza as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa to replace Parisse. Martin's Green was promoted to senior detective, replacing Farina, and his new partner was Detective Nina Cassady, played by Milena Govich, who had worked with Wolf on the short-lived series Conviction, and served as the show's first female detective. Govich proved to be even more unpopular with fans than her predecessor, however, and she only stayed with the show one season and she was replaced the next season by Jeremy Sisto as Detective Cyrus Lupo. Around the same time, Thompson announced he would leave the show in order to seek the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Waterston's McCoy was promoted to Interim District Attorney and Linus Roache joined the cast as Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Cutter.Sisto in particular received praise for his portrayal of Lupo, with critics saying he was an improvement over Govich. Ken Tucker sees the relationship between McCoy and Cutter as "a nicely overstated case of oedipal conflict. McCoy sees in Cutter his younger, more impetuous self, while Cutter sees an aging father figure he wants to vanquish by proving he's smarter and more daring than the old coot. It makes for some superfine debates over points of law that also carry personal, emotional weight for the protagonists, an approach the Law & Order mothership has rarely taken over the years." Other critics said the line-up was the best in years, with the chemistry finally seeming just right after years of cast members who did not seem to fit well in the cast.
Despite critics' praise, the line-up was short-lived. Martin announced he would leave the show near the end of the season to pursue other endeavors. He was replaced by Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard. In 2010, prior to the show's cancellation Merkerson announced she would leave the show at the conclusion of the twentieth season.
"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories."
—Opening narration spoken by Steven Zirnkilton
The cold open, lead-in of the show usually is a slice of life in New York (walking a dog in Manhattan, jogging in Central Park, etc.) unrelated to the main story until the character(s) in the scene suddenly discover, witness, or become victims of a crime (usually a murder). The scene cuts to the police's preliminary crime scene examination wherein the featured detectives make their first observations and proffer theories followed by a witticism or two, before the title sequence begins.
The police are represented in the show by the police lieutenant of Manhattan's fictional 27th Precinct and two homicide detectives, a senior partner and a junior partner. The detectives investigate the crime, collect evidence and interview witnesses, then regularly report to the lieutenant. The evidence leads to the arrest of one or more suspects. The matter then is taken over by the prosecutors of the Manhattan District Attorney's office, comprising the executive assistant district attorney (ADA) and an assistant prosecutor, who answer to the district attorney. They discuss deals, prepare the witnesses and evidence, and conduct the people's case in the trial. Both the detectives and prosecutors work with the medical examiner's office, the crime laboratory, and psychiatrists from the police and district attorney offices.
The detectives often have few or no good clues—they might not even know the victim's identity—and must chase several dead ends before finding a likely suspect. Towards the middle of a show, the police begin working with the prosecutors to make the arrest, and an arraignment scene follows. The police may reappear to testify in court or to arrest another suspect, but most investigation in the second segment is done by the assistant DAs, who always consult with the district attorney for advice on the case.
Unlike many legal dramas (e.g. Perry Mason), the proceedings are shown from the prosecution's point of view, with the ADAs trying to prove the defendant's guilt as opposed to his or her innocence. The second half usually opens with the arraignment of defendants and proceeds to trial preparation, including legal research and plea negotiations. Some episodes include legal proceedings beyond the testimony of witnesses, including indictments before grand juries; motion hearings, often concerning admissibility of evidence; selections of juries; and allocutions, usually as a result of plea bargains. Many episodes employ motions to suppress evidence as a plot device, and most of these end with evidence or statements being suppressed, often on a technicality. This usually begins with the service of the motion to the ADAs, follows with argument and case citations of precedent before a judge in some setting, and concludes with visual reaction of the winning or losing attorney.
In many episodes, the crime first investigated is not the one that goes to court (a person related to the deceased kills the killer, someone else is found to be involved, evidence of a separate crime is discovered, etc.). This other crime then becomes the focus of investigation.
"Ripped from the Headlines"
Often the plot of an initial portion of an episode resembles a recognizable aspect of an actual case. In early seasons, the details of these cases often closely followed the real stories, such as the season one episode "Subterranean Homeboy Blues", which had a woman shooting two attempted muggers and paralleled the Bernhard Goetz case. Another early episode focused on a racially charged rape case that mimicked the Tawana Brawley case. Later seasons would take real life cases as inspiration but diverge more from the facts. Often this would be done by increasing the severity of the crime in question, usually by adding a murder. This "ripped from the headlines" theme is reflected in the opening credits sequence that evolves from newspaper halftones to high-resolution photos. The rest of the plot, however, usually diverges significantly from the actual events that may have inspired the episode. Promotional advertisements of episodes with close real-life case parallels often use the "ripped from the headlines" phrase, although a textual disclaimer, within the actual episode, emphasizes that the story and characters are fictional. This format lends itself to exploring different outcomes or motives that similar events could have had under other circumstances. Some real life crime victims have felt used and exploited, with one lawyer, Ravi Batra, going so far as to sue the show in 2004 for libel.
Law & Order premiered September 13, 1990 and is currently airing on NBC, with 455 episodes having been produced.
On May 13, 2010, reports surfaced that Law & Order might be canceled after 20 seasons on the air, preventing it from unseating Gunsmoke as longest running American primetime drama unless another network picked it up.By May 14, 2010, The New York Times, Daily Variety and the Los Angeles Times reported official cancellation of the series. Continuation of characters on spin-off series — including the forthcoming Law & Order: Los Angeles — has been mentioned as a possible means of providing closure beyond the series finale.
On May 14, 2010, NBC officially canceled the show, opting instead to pick-up Law & Order: Los Angeles for a first season, and renewed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for a twelfth. The cancellation was announced after last-minute talks between NBC and Dick Wolf to extend the series failed to lead to an agreement.
The chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment, Jeff Gaspin, stated: "The full measure of the collective contributions made by Dick Wolf and his Law & Order franchise over the last two decades to the success of NBC and Universal Media Studios cannot be overstated. The legacy of his original Law & Order series will continue to make an impact like no other series before."
Angela Bromstad, President, Primetime Entertainment, NBC and Universal Media Studios, said, "Law & Order has been one of the most successful franchises in the history of television, which is why it is so critical that we continue this important brand and our relationship with Dick Wolf and his team with L&O: LA and Law & Order: SVU."
Following the cancellation announcement, Wolf announced that he still hoped to continue the series, and stated that he was seeking "other offers" from potential outlets to air the series. Wolf also discussed the possibility of airing a two hour TV film on NBC to conclude Law & Order, but said that such a plan had been delayed until he had exhausted every other possibility for continuing the series. Wolf did not specify whether NBC had already offered to air such a movie.
Dick Wolf stated that, "The flagship series is in a medically induced coma, waiting for a live-saving medicine." Wolf's pressuring the series's producer NBC/Universal Media Studios to make a TNT deal for originals if an acceptable license fee can be bargained. Talks between the two will start up after upfronts.
Spin-offs and adaptations
Law & Order (franchise)
The longevity and success of Law & Order has spawned a number of series and a television film that all use the name Law & Order. Although there were fears initially that the failure of such shows could hurt the original series, it was felt the brand name was needed because of the commercial desirability such a brand name creates To differentiate it from other series in the franchise, Law & Order is often referred to as "The Mother Ship" by producers and critics.
Exiled: A Law & Order Movie
The firing of Chris Noth in 1995 was, at the time, one of the least popular cast changes among fans. Noth remained popular with fans after his firing and received so much fan mail as a result that he had to hire a personal assistant to help him handle the volume. Although Dick Wolf defended the decision to fire Noth, he decided in 1998 to produce a television film that would explore what happened to Noth's Detective Mike Logan after he left the series. Originally titled Logan in Exile, the film's title was changed to Exiled: A Law & Order Movie during production. The film shows Logan as an officer on Staten Island assigned to domestic crimes. He takes on a murder case in the hopes of it leading to a return to his old Manhattan beat and is teamed with Detective Frankie Silvera (Dana Eskelson). The case soon leads to his old precinct, however, and the possibility that one of his old colleagues may be taking bribes from the mob. The movie was criticized for not measuring up to the standards of the series and for placing Noth in a blatantly dominant role in the story. Wolf had planned to make Exiled the first in a series of films in the franchise, but the film was less successful than expected and, as a result, future plans for films were eliminated. The movie also marks the final appearance of John Fiore in his recurring role as Detective Tony Profaci.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Haunted by the murders of Robert Chambers, Dick Wolf planned a new television series to focus on the investigation of sexually-based offenses and serve as a mechanism for addressing complex issues through the context of popular culture. Originally titled Sex Crimes, the show was renamed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to take advantage of the popularity of the original series. Starring Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler and Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson, the series premiered on September 20, 1999 and is currently in its 11th season. Also reprising their roles are Dann Florek as Captain Donald Cragen, a role he originated in the first three seasons of the original series, and Richard Belzer as Detective Sergeant John Munch, a character originally featured on Homicide: Life on the Street that also appeared in three crossover episodes for Law & Order. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has become the highest rated show of the franchise and has won and been nominated for numerous awards, including an Emmy award for Hargitay as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series during the 2005–2006 season.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
The second series of the franchise, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, premiered on September 30, 2001. Focusing almost exclusively on the investigation of high profile crimes, the series follows the detectives of the NYPD's Major Case Squad. The show originally starred Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren and Kathryn Erbe as Detective Alexandra Eames. Unlike the other series of the franchise, Criminal Intent showed the crimes from the perspective of the criminal(s) as well as of the police. In season 5, Chris Noth joined the cast, reprising his role as Detective Mike Logan, a role he played in the first five seasons of the original series. He would star in half of each season's episodes, alternating with D'Onofrio and Erbe,In 2007, facing sagging ratings and the possibility of cancellation, new episodes of Criminal Intent were moved from NBC to the USA Network, where the series received a larger audience and has run since. Noth departed the series in 2008 and was replaced by Jeff Goldblum as Detective Zach Nichols. D'Onofrio and Erbe left the series at the beginning of the ninth season in 2010, and Goldblum now stars in all current episodes, along with his partner, Detective Serena Stevens, played by Saffron Burrows.
Law & Order: Trial by Jury
The third series of the franchise, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, premiered on March 3, 2005. Unlike the other series of the franchise, Trial by Jury focused almost exclusively on the prosecution of criminal offenses, and often showed cases from the perspectives of defense attorneys and judges as well as the prosecutors. The series starred Bebe Neuwirth as Assistant District Attorney Tracey Kibre and Amy Carlson as Assistant District Attorney Kelly Gaffney, the first time a Law & Order series has featured two female leads. Also reprising their roles from the original series were Jerry Orbach as retired NYPD Detective-turned-DA Investigator Lennie Briscoe, who was originally planned as a regular but was only able to film two episodes due to his illness, and Fred Dalton Thompson as District Attorney Arthur Branch, playing the role simultaneously on both series. Reception of the new series was mixed, with some critics feeling like it would be a fourth hit for Wolf, while other critics believed the show was unoriginal and put defendants and defense attorneys in an overly negative light. Trial by Jury was canceled by NBC after only thirteen episodes, making it the first series of the franchise to be canceled.
Law & Order: Los Angeles
On January 10, 2010, NBC programming chief Angela Bromstad announced at the winter TCA Press Tour that the network was in talks with Dick Wolf about producing a new series, entitled Law & Order: Los Angeles, and indicated that NBC was seeking to hire writers for a pilot.
Reports in early May suggested that NBC had made the decision to pick up Law & Order: Los Angeles with a 13-episode order for fall 2010, having brought Brotherhood creator Blake Masters on board to co-create the new series set in Los Angeles with Wolf. NBC confirmed the new series order on May 14, 2010. The fall timeslot for Law & Order: Los Angeles will be Wednesdays at 10:00 P.M. (Eastern) on NBC.
The series will be the first series in the Law & Order franchise to be set outside New York and the fifth series in the franchise.
Crime & Punishment
In 2002, Dick Wolf produced a reality series based around the prosecution of cases in the District Attorney's office of San Diego, California. Alternately titled Crime & Punishment and Law & Order: Crime & Punishment, elements of Law & Order were used to take advantage of the franchise including using the same font as the original series' title screen, opening narration similar to that of other franchise shows, and the use of Mike Post's "clang" sound. Each episode followed a different case and a different prosecutor as a case unfolded in the court room. Often the prosecutor was the only fully "fleshed out" character in each episode while witnesses appeared and disappeared without much development and defendants often did not testify in open court. Because of this, many critics felt the series had more in common with shows such as COPS or The Jerry Springer Show than it did with Law & Order.The series ran for 26 episodes between 2002 and 2004.
Main article: Law & Order: UK
Law & Order: UK, named Law & Order: London in early reports, received its debut airing on February 23, 2009, on one of Britain's main commercial networks ITV. The series stars Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber, Freema Agyeman, Harriet Walter and Bill Paterson, with scripts based on episodes from the US original. It is produced by Kudos in association with Wolf Films and NBC.
Crossovers and other appearances
Law & Order crossed over seven times with other NBC shows.
Homicide: Life on the Street
"Charm City" (Law & Order 6x13), continued in "For God and Country" (Homicide: Life on the Street 4x12)
"Baby, It's You – Part I" (Law & Order 8x6), continued in "Baby, It's You – Part II" (Homicide: Life on the Street 6x5)
"Sideshow – Part I" (Law & Order 9x14), continued in "Sideshow – Part II" (Homicide: Life on the Street 7x15)
While not considered a cross over episode, Chris Noth appears in the before-the-credits sequence of the Homicide episode "Law and Disorder" (ep 3x15). Taking place entirely in a Baltimore train station, Logan hands off a prisoner (John Waters) to Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher). The two detectives engage in some friendly banter about which city is better: New York City or Baltimore. They argue over topics such as Babe Ruth and Dorothy Parker.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
"Entitled – Part I" (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 1x15), continued in "Entitled – Part II" (Law & Order 10x14)
"Design" (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 7x2), continued in "Flaw" (Law & Order 16x2)
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
During the first season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, several cast members from the original series made guest appearances as their Law & Order characters. Dianne Wiest appeared in the first episode of the series, "One", Jerry Orbach and Jesse L. Martin guest starred in the episode "Poison", S. Epatha Merkerson appeared in the episode "Badge", and J.K. Simmons appeared in the episode "Crazy." Leslie Hendrix also reprises her role as Medical Examiner Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers as a recurring character throughout the run of the series starting with the first season episode "The Faithful."
In 2005, Chris Noth reprised his role as Detective Mike Logan for the show's fourth season. This appearance led to Noth joining the cast in the fifth season, appearing in the starring role for half the episodes of the season. Noth remained with the show for three seasons before departing in 2008. Also appearing during the show's fifth season were Fred Dalton Thompson and Carolyn McCormick.
Law & Order: Trial by Jury
Fred Dalton Thompson appeared as a regular in Trial by Jury, reprising his role from the original series.Jerry Orbach was originally planned as a regular but was only able to appear in two episodes before succumbing to prostate cancer. A crossover episode between Trial by Jury and the original series featured the resolution of Ed Green's shooting during the fifteenth season episode of the original series, "Tombstone," and featured Dennis Farina, Jesse L. Martin, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Sam Waterston.Carey Lowell appears in two episodes of Trial by Jury as Jamie Ross, who is now a judge. Also appearing on Trial by Jury were Leslie Hendrix in the episode "Baby Boom" and Carolyn McCormick in the episode "Day."
Carolyn McCormick and J. K. Simmons each made appearances on the FOX series New York Undercover, a series produced and co-created by Dick Wolf, in the psychiatrist roles they originated in Law & Order. McCormick appeared in the show's third season episode "Smack is Back" as Dr. Elizabeth Olivet. while Simmons appeared in the fourth season episode "Mob Street" as Dr. Emil Skoda.Fred Dalton Thompson also appeared in a cameo as District Attorney Arthur Branch in the first episode of the short-lived Wolf-produced series Conviction, which also featured Stephanie March reprising her Special Victims Unit role as Bureau Chief Alexandra Cabot.
Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Law & Order on NBC.
Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps. Season 18 started in January and was held back as a mid-season replacement when NBC announced their 2007–08 schedule in May 2007. The 20th season premiere was on Friday, September 25, 2009 at 8:00 PM (ET) and 7:00 PM (CT) on NBC.
Season Premiere Finale Episodes Timeslot Rank Viewers
1 1990–91 September 13, 1990 June 9, 1991 22 Tuesday 10:00 pm N/A N/A
2 1991–92 September 17, 1991 May 14, 1992 22 N/A N/A
3 1992–93 September 23, 1992 May 19, 1993 22 Wednesday 10:00 pm N/A N/A
4 1993–94 September 15, 1993 May 25, 1994 22 #23 9.6
5 1994–95 September 21, 1994 May 24, 1995 23 #27 11.63
6 1995–96 September 20, 1995 May 22, 1996 23 #24 10.93
7 1996–97 September 18, 1996 May 21, 1997 23 #27 10.47
8 1997–98 September 24, 1997 May 20, 1998 24 #24 14.1
9 1998–99 September 23, 1998 May 26, 1999 24 #20 13.8
10 1999–00 September 22, 1999 May 24, 2000 24 #13 16.28
11 2000–01 October 18, 2000 May 23, 2001 24 #11 17.7
12 2001–02 September 26, 2001 May 22, 2002 24 #7 18.7
13 2002–03 October 2, 2002 May 21, 2003 24 #10 17.3
14 2003–04 September 24, 2003 May 19, 2004 24 #14 15.93
15 2004–05 September 22, 2004 May 18, 2005 24 #25 13.0
16 2005–06 September 21, 2005 May 17, 2006 22 #35 11.2
17 2006–07 September 22, 2006 May 18, 2007 22 Friday 10:00 pm #54 9.4
18 2007–08 January 2, 2008 May 21, 2008 18 Wednesday 10:00 pm #38 10.70
19 2008–09 November 5, 2008 June 3, 2009 22 #62 8.23
20 2009–10 September 25, 2009 May 24, 2010 23 Friday 8:00 pm
Monday 10:00 pm TBA TBA
Awards and honors
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Law & Order
Law & Order has been nominated for numerous awards in the television industry over the span of its run. Among its wins are an Emmy for outstanding drama series in 1997, Screen Actors Guild awards for Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series for Sam Waterston in 1999 and Jerry Orbach in 2005, and numerous Edgar Awards for Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released the first seven seasons of Law & Order, as well as the fourteenth season, for Region 1.
In Regions 2 & 4, the first six seasons have been released on DVD by Universal Pictures, with the Season 7 being released in April 2010.
In Region 2, the first season was released on June 16, 2003, followed by the second on February 28, 2005, the third on November 21, 2005,the fourth on July 17, 2006, the fifth on July 23, 2007, the sixth on February 16, 2009, and the seventh on April 12, 2010 In Region 4, the first two seasons were released on November 7, 2007, with the third a year earlier on August 15, 2006, the fourth on September 19, 2006 the fifth on July 30, 2007, the sixth on March 4, 2009 and the seventh on April 21, 2010.
In addition, there are three computer games of Law & Order in which the player investigates crimes and then prosecutes the resulting cases. There is also a computer game based on Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
Law & Order: Dead on the Money
Law & Order: Double or Nothing
Law & Order: Justice is Served
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Law & Order: Dead Line: When a woman's body is found at the bottom of a hotel air shaft in Times Square, it looks like a routine suicide. Enter Detectives Lennie Briscoe and Ed Green. Something about the woman seems out of place in the tourist trap. Her clothing suggests wealth. No socialite would be caught dead in a place like this. The trail leads to an about-to-be published tell-all novel destined to be a best-seller. Now Briscoe and Green have to find out what's in it that's worth murder.
Law & Order: The Unofficial Companion (Second Edition published 11/99 by Renaissance Books): The Unofficial Companion was written with the cooperation of the show's creator and executive producer, Dick Wolf, and features interviews with the stars, producers, and writers. It is the first-ever guide to this popular, Emmy award-winning police drama. You'll get the inside scoop on: the past and current stars of the show-including Paul Sorvino, Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Chris Noth, S. Epatha Merkerson, Sam Waterston, Carey Lowell, Angie Harmon, and Michael Moriarty; and find out who was fired, who left willingly, and who remains; the show's continued problems with censorship issues and advertiser fallout; the behind-the-scenes anecdotes about cast regulars, including the fights, both verbal and physical, that have peppered the production; how Wolf was forced to increase the estrogen and decrease the testosterone on the show; the detailed history behind the creation and development of the show; and season-by-season critiques of each episode through the entire 1999 season.
Law & Order: Crime Scenes (published 12/03 by Barnes & Noble): written by Dick Wolf and Jessica Burstein describing the setup, and the thoughts that goes into producing the crime scenes.
True Stories of Law & Order (published 11/06 by Berkley/Penguin): chronicles 25 real cases that inspired some of the most popular "ripped from the headlines" episodes of the show. Authors Kevin Dwyer and Juré Fiorillo discuss famous cases including the Bernie Goetz subway shootings, the murder of Jennifer Levin in Central Park, and the San Francisco dog mauling of Diane Whipple, as well as lesser-known crimes such as the death by exorcism of Torrance Cantrell and the tragic murder of Anthony Riggs, a soldier who returned from the Gulf War only to be ambushed by a hitman hired by his wife. The book also includes facts about police and legal procedure.