Thursday, January 3, 2008

Law & Order Season Premier: The Jury is Still Out

The new season of Law & Order premiered last night. I’m on the fence about it. The series is one of the constants in the universe, keeping the world of crime on an even keel. But, I sensed a quake in the Law & Order “continuum” last night.

Maybe my expectations were too high, but both episodes left me wanting. Wanting what, you ask? More drama. More credible story lines. A better partner for Ed Green (Jesse Martin). Better dialog.

The two hour premier contained two separate stories (Called Home/Darkness), which was fine with me because the first episode was rather lifeless and more than an hour would have put me to sleep. Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) enters the show due to the assisted suicide of his brother, a L&O storyline that has been used across the franchise more than once. We get a heavy dose – too heavy – of his family. Law & Order has always been good about only releasing snippets of personal information, and that’s one thing that always appealed to me. More is not always better, so Lupo’s family is one thing I hope disappears in future episodes. I was concerned – make that scared - when the family appeared front and center in the beginning second episode with a reference that his brother's wife was interviewing for a job at the precinct. That does not bode well for their disappearance.

Jeremy Sisto seems to be afflicted with mumbling syndrome. I had to keep turning up the volume to hear him – and my hearing is great. His acting was lifeless and frankly, I felt no connection or concern for his character.

Michael Cutter (Linus Roache), on the other hand, seems to be a better fit. They made a little too obvious references, though, to the age difference between Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Cutter, with the ubiquitous Blackberry for Cutter (McCoy called it a gadget), and references to McCoy’s antique typewriter. OK writers, we get it. McCoy = old, Cutter = new. We are not that stupid and don’t need to be hit over the head with it. I also wish that I hadn’t been told prior to the premier that Linus Roache is faking his accent, because I find it annoying. I would have found it less so had it really been his own. But, despite the fact that Cutter is acting like a “Padawan”, making newbie mistakes, and McCoy is the old and wise “Jedi Master”, the chemistry seems good. It’s also good too see that they have given Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza) a modern – make that human – look. I swear last season she looked more fit to be on a science fiction show playing an alien. Her performance also seems energized. Bottom line is things look good in the DA’s office. As long as Sam Waterston sticks with the show, so will I. He’s the one person who seems to bring realism, and life, to his role, and serves as the “duct tape” holding the show together.

At the 2-7 though, things seem off. Ed seems to have lost all knowledge of what he learned from Lennie Briscoe. If Lennie had been in the second episode, he would have found an excuse to get into that building without having to call for a warrant, like saying he heard a scream. It’s a shame that after all these years, Ed “Sit yo’ ass down!” Green still seems to be a bit of a blank slate. It’s a shame, because Jesse Martin could handle the role of Ed in a edgier fashion. And if Cyrus Lupo continues to mumble and brood, I sense that poor Ed will just wither away. I hope that in the coming weeks, Sisto brings something to the table and they will give Ed some better scenarios.

Let’s not forget the story lines. As mentioned earlier, the assisted suicide story seems to be overdone with the franchise. The second story line seemed to lack believability. I was so glad when McCoy stated “The vice president of a power company involved in a kidnapping? C’mon!” It was exactly what I was thinking. I don’t understand why writers must make the rationale for some crimes so complex. I also was amused at how the court seemed to be in complete disarray from a power outage. I would like to think that the New York City would be able to handle things just a little better. And what exactly was the value of the scene in the street during the power outage when that woman came on to Lupo? It added no value to the story.

So while I’m not thrilled with how the season has started, I’ll hold my verdict for a little while longer. But like any jury, I won’t hold out forever.

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