Law & Order

1990

Seasons & Episodes

  • 22
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7.8| 0h30m| TV-14| en
Synopsis

In cases ripped from the headlines, police investigate serious and often deadly crimes, weighing the evidence and questioning the suspects until someone is taken into custody. The district attorney's office then builds a case to convict the perpetrator by proving the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Working together, these expert teams navigate all sides of the complex criminal justice system to make New York a safer place.

Director

Producted By

Universal Media Studios

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Trailers & Clips

Reviews

Plantiana Yawn. Poorly Filmed Snooze Fest.
Solemplex To me, this movie is perfection.
Actuakers One of my all time favorites.
AnhartLinkin This story has more twists and turns than a second-rate soap opera.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU The interest in these rather old (more than twenty years old) seasons is in the obsolescence of so many things that do not exist anymore or the absence of what is common today. This is TV archaeology. Thus you have the big monstrous PCs, the old dial telephones, the old enormous cars, and no smart phones, no portable phones, no tablets, and even practically no bikes. The traffic is practically fluid and you can park your car anywhere easily. Security is light, the presence of cops and even thieves is light too. The police force is hardly racially integrated, definitely very little at investigating police level and same thing at justice, DA and court level. This vision of the world in New York in the early 1990s is amazing. Do you remember it? Or rather can you imagine it?The second element is typical of US American-centered vision. Every episode starts with the sentence: "In a criminal justice system," wrongly quoted as "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," by http://lawandorder.wikia.com/wiki/Law_%26_Order, because it is not true of any criminal justice system in the world and the use of "A criminal justice system" implies the universality of the remark. I checked I do not know how many dozens of episodes and it was always the same, the use of the American-centered indefinite article. What is shown in this series is purely American. In many other systems in the world investigation means looking into what the prosecution can use and what the defense can use. The defense research or investigation is not paid by the accused and done by his lawyer but most of it is done by the investigating team under the responsibility of a judge. It is this very justice system of the USA that leads to the worst possible jury decisions that are irreversible because no one can be tried twice for the same offense. . . In other words, they only look for a culprit and as soon as they find one – or they are convinced they have found one – they are satisfied and go to court.The series is very clear about that and many episodes show how tricky it is if the defense does not investigate on their own side. They even actually show cases in which the investigation is wrong, the jury finds the defendant guilty and the judge sends him to prison to serve a 25 to life sentence and yet right away afterwards new elements come up showing that the culprit is another man who was exonerated. They cannot reverse the jury decision. The judge cannot change it at all. They have to find a way to beat about the bush, negotiate the obstacle and use a detour to prove the other suspect guilty without bringing the first convicted one into the picture. Then and only then the first trial can be voided. The least we can say is that it is slightly distorted. Some might say corrugated.That's probably the best side of this series: it does not hide the fact that the American criminal justice system is deeply problematic. In spite of their Miranda warning that states what follows: "You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish. etc.," in spite of that the prosecution will not target both guilt AND innocence but ONLY guilt. And over and over again the episodes show how bungled a case can get when the defense attorney is not diligent enough. This series shows all judicial mistakes come from the basic police work at the root of everything else afterward. The police work is often based on a personal conviction or even belief more than facts. The advantage of the police shown here is that the lieutenant who follows the investigation performed by his or her (in this case her) detectives can challenge them and the facts they bring up and ask them to look in other directions, to check other sides of the situation. But even so, nothing is clear. The main issue – or one of the main issues – is the role of women and in this particularly series the lieutenant is a woman, what's more ethnic, and the assistant district attorney Jack McCoy's assistant, Claire Kincaid, is also a woman. They often bring in a new note, a softening note, at times an alternative approach. But that is not in any way based on truth and the search for truth but on the deep conviction the case of women, or relevant facts that only women can see have been ignored. The next step in this series is the importance of deals reached by the public prosecutor with the defense before the court decision. Such deals are not dealing with justice nor even the truth but only with speeding up the procedure, save on court expenses and most of the time reduce the sentence by reducing the qualification of the crime. And when wrongly accused the duress is so hard in some situations that the innocent person accepts to plead guilty in exchange of a soft sentence, but yet it is fake justice. . . Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU
SnoopyStyle This was an incredibly resilient show. It survived the departure of a multitude of actors and lasted 20 years. That's on account of its reliant not on the characters, but on the stories. It proved to be a winning formula.The show follows a rip-from-the-headlines crime story. The first half of the show concentrates on the investigation of the crime by the police, and the second half follows the prosecution of the crime in court.They reinvented the crime procedural. Scripted show just don't last this long. That's thanks to the structure of the show. If not for the proliferation of all the TV channels and the need for ever more cheaper production, this could have lasted another 20 years.
dwr246 At one point, I saw Sam Waterston asked in an interview why Law & Order was so popular. He seemed a bit surprised by the question and responded that it was the story lines. While he has a point in that they do come up with some unusual twists and turns in their storytelling, the writers had some big problems in how they developed their characters, particularly Waterston's.The premise of the show is that it depicts the criminal justice system from the view of both the police and the courts. Consequently, the shows always start with the discovery of a crime, usually, but not always, murder. We then follow the detectives (Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Benjamin Bratt, Chris Noth, S Epathat Merkerson) as they solve the crime, eventually finding a suspect that they arrest and bring to trial. At that point we go to the DA's office, and follow Executive ADA Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston), a smug and arrogant man who conflates his desires with the law, and winning with justice, and his assistance of the season (Angie Harmon, Alana De La Garza, Elisabeth Rohm) as they work to bring the case to trial. Occasionally the DA (Dianne Wiest, Fred Thompson) gets brought in on the action. Eventually, the case goes to trial, and in the end, a verdict is brought in, although not always the one expected.This is another show that suffers from some really unpleasant characters. While the police detectives are generally a likable lot, and seem to be doing the best they can, once things get to the DA's office, things take a turn for the worse. In general, the assistants are usually likable and compassionate people, as was DA Nora Lewin (Dianne Wiest). Unfortunately, once Arthur Branch (Fred Thompson) took over as DA, the DA stopped being quite so sympathetic a character. And the writers are to be congratulated in creating the worst villain ever in Jack McCoy. The only problem is, Jack McCoy is the one you're supposed to be rooting for. And his character, as well Arthur Branch's could have easily been humanized by the occasional mention of a family, a hobby, a favorite cause, anything to make them look as though they cared about something other than only winning their case. As it stands, once the crime has been solved, the show becomes painful to watch.By and large, I find the acting to be pretty good. Dianne Wiest did a nice turn in her time as a DA. Jesse L. Martin was especially good as a detective, and S. Epatha Merkerson was wonderful as the head of the detectives. Angie Harmon did a nice job as McCoy's assistant, and Elisabeth Rohm was outstanding in that capacity. Sam Waterston's Jack McCoy is a puzzle to me, as Waterston is perfectly capable of creating a likable character, even when the character's actions aren't necessarily likable, e.g. in Finnegan Begin Again. However, there is absolutely nothing likable about Jack McCoy, and I'm inclined to think that is the fault of the writing, as I think Waterston could have pulled it off. Worst however, was Fred Thompson, who clearly was playing Fred Thompson. His departure from the show was a blessed relief.Clearly the show was successful, and spun off several equally successful series. I just can't help thinking how much more successful it could have been had they worked a little harder to make the main characters people that you wanted to follow week in and week out.
Robert J. Maxwell It's pretty original for a TV series. "Law and Order" is the proper title because the first half has a pair of cops investigating a crime and the second half shows us the DA's office prosecuting the wrong-doers. The writers seem to know something about their subject too, which is a refreshing change. I can't count the number of humdrum police series in which the officers refer to the perpetrators as "crooks" and use other lingo lifted straight out of comic books. This one is different. The cops deal with criminals matter-of-factly, shoving them around once in a while, but shrugging and wisecracking over corpses. And the episodes stick to their subject, without dragging in a lot of time-consuming personal problems and dreary romances. There's very little in the way of a musical score -- mainly that sforzando PLONK PLONK of a chord when there's a significant change in scene.Of course the show has been going on for many years and there have been a lot of cast changes. It's important because we get to spend a lot of time with the two investigating detectives and the two or three people in the DA's office, so, over time, we get to know them rather well.Some of the cast changes has been improvements. As the police lieutenant, S. Epatha Merkerson is probably better than Dann Florek, who appeared in the earlier episodes. As the Assistant DA in charge of the cases, Michael Moriarty and Sam Waterston are equally good. As their chief assistant, Richard Brooks was replaced (to good effect) by a series of babes: Jill Hennessey, Cary Lowell, Angie Harmon, and Elizabeth Roehm. The assistants that followed were barely adequate.The original detective team was George Dzundza and Christopher Noth and both were fine. Dzundza was replaced by Paul Sorvino and then Jerry Orbach, both equally good. I can't imagine why Chris Noth was let go (suddenly and without warning) because he seemed ideal in the part.The stories haven't declined in quality much, but the signs of exhaustion are apparent. Earlier episodes were often borrowed from real-life high-profile cases and it was interesting to watch them spun out in fictional form. And they tended to reflect what anyone would think to be the experiences of ordinary detectives. The plots took the cops into the ghettos and crummy back alleys and louche places where junkies and miscreants hung out. And, again, both the characters and settings were convincingly projected. That's changed. More often now the cops work in middle-class or high-end milieus, as if the show itself were losing touch with its roots.And, to an extent, it is getting lost. It jumped the shark a few years ago, after Jerry Orbach left the cast. No satisfactory replacement has been found. Too many of the cast are beginning to look like rich actors rather than like the characters they play.Lately, my impression is that, like all systems, it suffers from creeping entropy in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics. From it has sprung forth so many spinoffs that the format is finally feeding on its own flesh. I don't bother watching the show any longer. And I always wished that the producer, Dick Wolf, would have ditched that corny wolf howl at the end of each show.At it's best, though, "Law and Order" is one of the most gripping and convincing police shows that has appeared on TV.