Thursday, May 13, 2010

ORDER Out

Earlier this year I made note with some relief that NBC, still smarting from its Jay Leno Show debacle from the fall and desperate to get its development ducks back in a row, had already given a commitment to its stalwart Law & Order for next season.  However, in a pretty shocking and out-of-the-blue reversal, the Peacock has instead decided that this season will be the show's last.

Now in its twentieth year, the original Law & Order (or "The Mothership," as it's known by crew and fans) has been a Rock of Gibraltar for the net's line-up through thick and thin going back to Cheers, Cosby, and the first President Bush.  Next year would have seen it become the longest running drama in TV history, but unfortunately that's one record that will now remain just out of arm's reach for the veteran skein.

Oddly enough, I had what I guess you'd call a premonition of this mere hours ago as I watched last Monday's ep on my DVR.  After another typically strong finish, and the season headed towards its close, I got to thinking about the show's longer-term future.  Specifically, as it relates to the announcement a few weeks back that yet another spin-off would premiere this fall entitled Law & Order: LA.

For the first time in the States, instead of a new Law & Order series focusing on another facet of the police/attorney diad (à la Special Victims Unit, Criminal Intent, and Trial By Jury), it would instead borrow a page from the CSI franchise and transplant the same formula to another locale.  I got to thinking that this was probably the beginning of the end for Law & Order: Original Flavor, allowing NBC to essentially continue the original while wrapping it up in that "new show" smell.

Then, mere hours later, whaddya know.

I've mentioned here already that the show's current cast is the best it's seen in awhile, and creatively it's never been stronger, thus I'm doubly disappointed with this news.  It's not often you can talk with disappointment about a two-decade old show coming to an end (or a show reaching two decades, for that matter), but (assuming producer Dick Wolf can't swing a last-minute reprieve) May 24th's impending Law & Order finale will draw down the curtain on an entire era of television with it.

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