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'Law & Order' Never Said it Would be This Way
December 11, 2018  | By Noel Holston  | 9 comments

Weird. It's like we're all watching Back to the Future in a huge movie theater and a third of the audience is pulling for Biff.

Feeling mischievous and snarky, I posted that analogy on Facebook not long ago. I was hoping to get a rise out of the few Donald Trump supporters I know who haven’t unfriended me yet, but it also reflects my genuine befuddlement about the popularity among a portion of our national population of a graceless crumb bum I can’t imagine anyone wanting for a relative, neighbor or boss, much less a commander in chief.

I haven’t figured out the disconnect, but I think I have come up with another analogy that’s better and certainly more appropriate to this particular website.

It has to do with the TV series I suspect George W. Bush (right) was talking about at his father’s memorial service in Washington when he recalled how aging George H.W. loved watching police show reruns while holding First Lady Barbara’s hand.

It’s (cue the famous sonic clang that evokes a judge’s gavel, a slamming cell door and the finality of Judgement Day) Law & Order.

First off, there’s the matter of Law & Order’s attitude toward wealthy New Yorkers. Almost a decade after it ended its 20-season NBC run, the flagship of the L&O empire is still showing on so many cable channels that there’s an episode available for viewing pretty much every hour of the day. Dick Wolf, the mastermind, is approaching the Vatican in wealth. But Wolf, for all his residuals, either despises Manhattan’s silver-spoon set or figured out early on that he would never go broke making them look smug, selfish and privileged in the eyes of hard-working viewers in fly-over land.

Only a fraction of the murders annually in New York City involve people who live in penthouses overlooking Central Park, but over the years L&O focused dozens upon dozens of times on crimes committed by men and women who wore designer clothes, lived in high-altitude apartments and often treated the NYPD detectives questioning them as if they had tracked dog poop in from the street.

How many times did we see Detective Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach, left) and his younger partner du jour interrupt a dinner party or a board meeting or a political event to lead the upper-crust suspect away in handcuffs? Why make a simple, quiet arrest when you can humiliate?

Though Trump is not currently residing in his Manhattan tower, he’s a quintessential L&O suspect type – ostentatiously wealthy, convinced of his own superior intelligence and lawyered-up since prep school. He’s the kind of guy, on TV at least, nobody wants to see get a walk.

And that’s the other thing. On Law & Order, defense attorneys used every legal trick in the law library to keep their clients out of prison. Like Robert Mueller, the Independent Counsel investigating Trump and his campaign’s concealed, possibly treasonous ties to Russia, Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy had to build solid cases while devious lawyers for the prime suspects tried to quash subpoenas, challenge warrants, and get confessions and other evidence ruled inadmissible – in other words, get their clients off on technicalities.

And if Law & Order viewers – if law and order loving Americans, period – hated anything, it was witnessing crooks flaunt the justice system and get off on technicalities.

But that was then, and this is now, and that was Earth, and this is Bizarro World.

Hunt witch. Collusion no. HAPPY.

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I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blogs really nice, keep it up!
I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later

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Jan 21, 2023   |  Reply
alchemy health and wellness
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Dec 22, 2022   |  Reply
Pam Lester
I watch Law & Order special victims unit all the time and in reruns I just noticed that it's getting a little bit too liberal and that they're always defending sanctuary cities and are against ICE. I am not in agreement with some of your contact
Dec 12, 2018   |  Reply
I watched all the L&O in 2016 to tune out debates and Orange Carbuncle. It helped me keep my sanity.
Dec 12, 2018   |  Reply
I watched the show purely for entertainment...I couldn't care less who was being prosecuted...it was entertainment...but here comes some pompous a$$ trying to tell us why we watched...SCREW YOU... it's not about you or your liberal opinions
Dec 12, 2018   |  Reply
And a very Merry Christmas to you, too.
Dec 19, 2018
My wife and I view lots of L&O,in all its forms,in cable reruns. I'm constantly trying to engage her to make judgments. She usually won't budge,save for an occasional jury decision. Me,I look at these stories like a puzzle,trying to separate red herrings from facts. Then watching the defense jab like Rocky. From my experiences on the couple of real juries that I was part of,I try to weigh the evidence presented but love the judicial chamber visits behind the scenes. So we watch different,but both entertained. As my wife will declare,I am the pompous ass("snotty prep school/college"-exact quote) but I welcome others explaining why folks watch. I'd welcome yours but your conclusion has nothing other than frustration. Opinion backed with explanation-that is criticism,and,yes,I learned that in college. The course seemed easy on the surface;it proved quite difficult but rewarding almost 50 years since.
One thing I learned from L&O-never attend Hudson U. Very dangerous campus.
Dec 12, 2018
The famous "middle aged white male crime wave." Yep, just get that demographic under control and we're all safe. It was less about who you'd root against than where you'd like to set the scenes. Middle America likes to see nice apartments and fancy dining rooms.
Dec 11, 2018   |  Reply
Sandy Matthews
"And if Law & Order viewers – if law and order loving Americans, period – hated anything, it was witnessing crooks flaunt the justice system and get off on technicalities."

And, yet, you don't mention Bill & Hillary as examples of this even once. Shame on you. Stay in your lane and report/critique without your personal OPINION. This is why the Oscars/Grammies and all other award shows are failing. Do your job; we don't care about your political biases of which there are many. I voted for President Obama twice and he was a dismal disappointment and I wanted change and am please about all that President Trump has achieved so far and support him whole-heartedly. If you weren't one of the elites, you might get it. Most of your reporting I support, hence, my subscribing to your site. But when you venture into politics, you lose me (and most of fly-over country).
Dec 11, 2018   |  Reply
Mr. Holston-Glad that you answered. I still remember Rush Limbaugh,though I had to look up the specifics:1/16/09:"I would be honored if the Drive-By-Media headlined me all day long:'Limbaugh:I hope Obama fails'." This,when Limbaugh mattered(made the statement on Hannity,now the King of Right-Wing Media).
Of the Congressional sins committed 2009-16,I would point to McConnell's blocking of at least a debate about Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court as the most grievous. Theft,pure and simple.
Mr. Coulson-Know that Trump's troubles started well before Inauguration Day. Just ask Mike Flynn,who gets sentenced next week for lies to federal inspectors for contacts with a Russian ambassador from Election Day to that day. Trump's history with Russia seems to go well before the down escalator ride in 2015. That onion has more layers and finding out what happened is taking time.
Dec 12, 2018
Corey coulson
Thank you I am pleased with President Trump also
They have been on his ass even before he took the oath of office. All these jerks elected are supposed to be working us to make the USA better but all they do is obstruct the president from getting his promises completed. The Dems and special counsel should be accountable for their actions and the millions spent on this witch Hunt. Shame on those a holes
Dec 12, 2018
Matthew Sanderson
You're a liar. You know it.
Dec 12, 2018
1. Personal opinion is the point of the piece. 2. I was born and still live in fly-over land. 3. L&O had been on the air more than a decade when the Clintons moved there. 4. If you were so upset about the lack of change during Obama's eight years of careful stewardship and dignified behavior, why didn't you vote out all the Republicans who blocked him out of spite and petty partisanship?
Dec 11, 2018
Hoping some L& O expert can compile a Trumpish list of "ripped from headlines" episodes,especially since Wolf & NBC scuttled their SVU take,with NBC proclaiming it "pointless to air". Fogettabout viewer favorite SVU polls on USA;since WE claims all 456 episodes of L&O Unleaded(no "Homicide"crossovers?),this would be one marathon worth viewing.
My dream episode:L&O-The Musical,with Jerry Orbach's Broadway chops front and center(Gotta Sing,Gotta Shoot),Michael Moriarity doing his cabaret act, dancing chaulk lines,ADAs a la Rockettes,jury choruses with so many L&O/Broadway stars guesting-Patty LuPone,Bernadette Peters,Tony Roberts. Songs-Get Me to the Morgue On Time, I Need a Bus,Perp Walk,Riot in Rikers, I Got Those Ka-Chunk-I'm Guilty- Blues, We Both Reached for the Gun and Gee,Officer Krupke(those last two are real ones).
Dec 11, 2018   |  Reply
Noel-Thanks for mentioning what I assume is Jesse L. Martin,who played Det. Ed Green,Lennie's partner,later Fontana(Dennis Farina) and senior partner to Lupo(Jeremy Sisto). I keep my Kindle handy to research episodes and finding fun facts about all involved.
Orbach's footlights footprint included introducing "Try To Remember" from "The Fantasticks",Chuck Baxter in "Promises,Promises"(with the Bacharach/David hit,"I'll never Fall In Love Again") and Billy Flynn in "Chicago". Special mention of his work as Lumiere in the Disney 'toon "Beauty and the Beast",where he got to sing "Be Our Guest",a high-point for the musical. Maybe in my L&O musical,Jerry/Lennie could sing it as he incarcerates a perp and slams a cell door.
Dec 13, 2018
Love your vision of a musical episode. Too late for that, of course, but it could have been something considering that Orbach was a Broadway institution and Jesse Green had musical chops as well.
Dec 12, 2018
Aggh- left out Raul Esparza,from SVU,as he is possibly the best Broadway actor ever to have a regular L&O role. Played piano onstage in "Company",does Shakespeare,off Broadway risk taking and a definite Sondheim disciple. Hey,just have him perform "Being Alive"(not all victims die) from "Company"-mesmerizing!
Dec 11, 2018
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