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DVD UPDATE: 'Law & Order UK'
March 30, 2010  | By Diane Werts

law and order uk dvd.jpgAmerica's been adapting British series for decades. All in the Family came from Til Death Do Us Part. Three's Company was originally Man About the House. NBC's The Office owes its existence to Ricky Gervais' BBC The Office. Dramas like Life on Mars, Cracker, Eleventh Hour and Queer as Folk started in England, too.

Now it's going the other way. Law & Order finally got British-ized last year, and now Law & Order UK has arrived on DVD on this side of the Atlantic (exclusive to Target at $30; you'll pay more elsewhere online).

Some of the faces are familiar in these first 13 episodes -- Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica) is the younger cop, and Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who) is the Crown Prosecution Service freshman. The procedural format is, of course, its same split self, right down to the essential ka-chunk sound at scene changes. (New theme song, though.)

UK law has its own quirks, whether it's those wigs worn in court or the differently phrased Miranda-style rights readings. So it's interesting how the American series' scripts were adapted to match British legal procedures.

The new three-disc DVD set offers plenty of explanatory extras. L&O creator Dick Wolf is interviewed, and his UK counterparts expand upon their work in their own interviews, as well as three episode commentaries. Agyeman leads tours of the two main sets. Rounding out the bonus features are other cast interviews and deleted scenes.

Also out on DVD this week:

Enjoy two more of those lively globetrotting explanations of human creations from distributor Acorn's Athena line, which delivered Melvyn Bragg's must-see language history The Adventure of English. The new arrivals feature the same useful viewers-guide booklets to walk us through these docu-miniseries. They connect the past to today in personal and fascinating ways -- more crucial than ever now that our own "History" channel seems more interested in Ax Men and Pawn Stars.

Legacy: The Origins of Civilization -- Michael Wood from The Story of India traces the development of history's key societies, in China, India, Egypt, Iraq, Western Europe and Central America. Made in 1991.

The Story of Math -- Oxford's Marcus du Sautoy explores how the patterns of numbers figure into everything from daily life to art to philosophy. Made in 2008. Includes bonus documentary The Music of the Primes -- create your own music with prime numbers here.




Toby O'B said:

I picked up my copy last Tuesday at Target, and Wednesday night some friends and I mixed a few episodes into our weekly all-night Brit vidfest. What we enjoyed was the new version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon - Six Degrees of 'Doctor Who'. Obviously it happens every week with Freema Agyeman in the cast, but each episode we watched had another guest star who appeared in 'Doctor Who'. So far I haven't seen an episode that I've recognized as being adapted from the American version, but then again, it's been around so long it's not surprising I can't remember all of them.

Mac said:

Dunno. I'd rather see Craig Ferguson lampoon US L&O with an Anglican angle. Did you see his Prince Charles bit go daytime the other night? At least, it's the first time I saw him do "Charles", as opposed to "The Rather Late Programme". Complete with Camilla/horse and Queen Mommy joke. L&O (outside of early D'Onofrio CI) is a reason why scripted TV gave way to cheap reality fodder. And I feel cheap when I get pulled in by one and see an hour wasted. I need to pop in an episode of The Wire to cleanse myself.

Jill said:

The Athena line DVDs sound very interesting, but don't disrespect Pawn Stars! :-) We found it by accident, but we love it...

Sarah said:

I don't normally watch the US Law and Orders, but I really want to see Law and Order UK (Love Freema Agyeman). Also with the rumors of Torchwood being Americanized, my thought has been if that happens, the only way it would work is if they did it like Law and Order. New crew, same concept - Torchwood US.

Jim Stegman said:

Why is the UK incarnation remaking US episodes? The last dozen or so plots are identical to American episodes. Why aren't they writing new scripts?

[Diane here: That's generally how it's done. The US has used the British scripts for The Office and other 'cross-the-pond adaptations, too, before creating their own. Seems they're afraid to get too far away from the original until they've got their feet under them. Then they start crafting distinct stories.]

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