Monday, January 04, 2010

ORDER From Chaos

My new year got off to a good start this weekend with news that NBC's ever-dependable procedural Law & Order, the mothership of the omnipresent Law & Order franchise, has been picked up for its twenty-first season. This will break the record for longevity by an hourlong scripted show set by CBS' Gunsmoke in 1975 (though not the record for hours produced, as Gunsmoke's 635 episodes is still a pretty big giant to topple).

For some perspective, I was ten years old in the fall of 1990 when Law & Order first premiered. A half hour of cops doing their thing, a half hour of lawyers doing theirs. The formula from producer Dick Wolf was so simple that its kept the show plugging along through countless cast changes, innumerable "ripped from the headlines" plots, and several spin-offs (the UK edition, starring Battlestar Galactica's Jamie Bamber, begins its third season in a few weeks -- though I've yet to see an episode).

Although I didn't jump on the bandwagon right away, by '93/'94 (right around the time Michael Moriarty left and Sam Waterston joined as lead ADA) I was on board for the duration -- the rest of the '90s, the entirety of the aughts, and whatever else may come. Think of it like a security blanket with less quilt and more quips. Two decades later, my three-year old can hear that distinctive "thunk-THUNK" and immediately say, "Law & Order!" That makes me either the best dad in the world or the worst.

With its move to Fridays last fall and the subsequent lowered ratings, for the first time in awhile there was a real danger the show might not survive past the current season (its twentieth -- itself no small feat). Thankfully, the higher-ups at NBC realized that a world without new Law & Order in it is just kind of...sad. Plus, with their continuing downward ratings spiral, now probably wasn't the most appropriate time to drop a proven performer (which the entire Law & Order brand has clearly been for NBC/Universal, given the sheer number of reruns from the various shows that dot the cable landscape).

The current cast, with Jeremy Sisto and Anthony Anderson heading up the "Law" portion, and Linus Roache and Alana De La Garza handling "Order" duties, has provided one of the series' best-ever lineups (believe me, I've seen 'em all), so hopefully they stay put while the show keeps "thunk-THUNK"-ing away for at least a few more years yet.

1 comment:

mr.boy said...

Who the hell do you think you are, S. Epatha Merkerson?!