Monday, May 24, 2010
As you may recall (with a bit of help from Wikipedia, perhaps), NBC-TV’s original Law & Order series premiered on September 13, 1990. After establishing itself as the longest-running crime drama on the small screen, the show will end its 20-year run tonight. Yeah, there are rumors that creator Dick Wolf may develop a Law & Order movie follow-up, or try to move the show to another network. But I’m not going to hold out hope. After watching the original series for so many years, I am quite satisfied. It’s gone on long enough. I, for one, am fully ready to move on.
I still miss some of the actors who, over these many years, have come and gone from the program. People such as the captivating Jill Hennessy, who played Assistant District Attorney Claire Kincaid before launching her own series, Crossing Jordan. Or Jerry Orbach, who put in an absolutely fabulous performance as Detective Lenny Briscoe. Or Dennis Farina, the ex-cop and former star of Crime Story, whose Detective Joe Fontana really classed up the joint. Or Annie Parisse, whose ADA character, Alexandra Borgia, wasn’t given sufficient time on the series to show all her strengths. And losing Law & Order means losing, at least for the time being, that superb actor, Sam Waterston, whose role as principled Executive District Attorney (later District Attorney) Jack McCoy helped give the show a strength of character and purpose that it needed in order to connect with viewers.
Even absent from the NBC primetime schedule, of course, Law & Order will carry on in incessant reruns, and can always be watched on DVD. It served as the seed from which a franchise grew (the best of those spin-offs, to my mind, being Law & Order: Criminal Intent), but has fallen out of favor as new crops of less heavily formatted law-enforcement dramas have popped up in recent years. Some of those newer shows aren’t half bad, but they needn’t replace our fond memories of Jack McCoy and the 27th Precinct and the famous cha-CHUNK signal announcing the opening of each new scene in Law & Order. And they needn’t wipe our memories clean of the familiar series introduction, which I’ve embedded above as my last celebration of an old small-screen friend.
Tonight’s final episode, “Rubber Room” (written by veteran L&O scribe René Balcer), will begin at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
READ MORE: “20 Years of Law & Order Opening Credits (Video)” (CelebriFI); “Television Series Finales (or) You Can’t Make Everyone Happy,” by Mercurie (A Shroud of Thoughts); “Law & Order: An Actor’s Paradise,” by Steve Vineberg (Critics at Large).