You Got Your Law, You Got Your Order

Little ditty, 'bout Jack and Diane, two American kids doing the best that they can . . . solving crimes!


In case you didn’t recognize it, that’s the signature sound ofLaw & Order, my favorite TV show and the best all-time thing ever on TV ever. Ever.

Not that I’m a big TV person. I like The Office enough to remember what night it’s on, although I’m iffy on the time.  There are a few others – Boston Legal, 30 Rock and honestly I can’t think of any others right now – that I’ll watch if they happen to be on when I’m flipping through the channels.

But Law & Order . . . ah, where do I begin?

I wasn’t a big fan of this show from the start. But my husband watched it, so I soon found myself joining in. It wasn’t until after Max Greevey bought the farm outside his house in the pouring rain with his wife looking out the front window (“Max!Max!!!!” Man that was awesome.  I’ve seen the reruns), and Ben “Voice Immodulation Sufferer” Stone left, and Paul Robinette quit the DA’s office to become an angry black man defense attorney, that I really started to follow this show.

In the cast, there have three district attorneys, two executive DAs, seven assistant DAs (following Robinette’s exit the New York Bar Association apparently began to churn out super models; this latest one looks like a Grecian statue that would shatter into porcelain pieces if you hit her with a gavel), two police head honchos, and nine detectives.

I wish there was a Fantasy Law & Order game, where you could put together your own cast of your favorite characters and see how they’d solve and prosecute the case. Mine would be: Adam as DA, Jack (of course - we’ll get to him later) as EDA, Abbie “Husky Voice” Carmichael as ADA, and in the cop shop: Anita “Formerly Reba the Mail Lady inPeeWee’s Playhouse” Van Buren in charge, with Ed Green and Lenny Briscoe doing all the actual work.

According to Adam Peterson, a guy in Utah who has a color-coded chart online, there was only one season when my L&O Dream Team was on the screen – 1999, Ed’s first season and Adam’s last. Adam went downhill fast after the tear-jerking episode of him pulling the plug on his wife, the invisible Mrs. Schiff, who we hardly knew except that she was on some committees with the mayor’s wife.

According to Quizzilla, another L&O Web site, I’m Lenny. I know this because I answered questions about my childhood and tastes in clothing. Internet magicians then told me which Law & Order character I am most like. I was told that I, like Lenny, am witty, attentive and dedicated to my work! Regardless of what my age may be, I’m really just a kid at heart!

Similarities notwithstanding, Lenny is one of my favorites. Maybe because I saw him on Broadway in 42nd Street on my honeymoon, or maybe because in the end of Dirty Dancing he actually did not put Baby in a corner, or maybe because in L&O he always does the right thing, even if it’s lying on the stand to lock up a bad guy. But it probably has something to do with his mastery of the quip. The James Bond of the 52nd precinct, Lenny can make a play-on-words with one syllable and his eyebrows.

And then there’s Jack McCoy. Jack . . . Jack, Jack, Jack. Am I the only one who can’t remember anything else Sam Waterston has ever been in? I have a vague memory of him with Kirsty Allie, she has a retarded son, he’s the understanding older boyfriend . . . or did I dream that? I keep hearing he was in Serial Mom, some other movies and was a big theater guy. Who cares? He’s Jack McCoy now and forever. On Law & Order he can grow old and shaky as ungracefully as he wants to.

People who aren’t fans will complain that the show doesn’t reveal anything about the characters’ personal lives. Yes, that’s right! We don’t need to go home with these people. I saw enough of Furillo and Morticia in bed in Hill Street Blues to last me a TV lifetime. I could count on one hand the number of things I know about all 23 characters in Law & Order’s 18-season history:  Ray’s wife had MS and he had an affair; Lenny’s daughter died of a drug overdose; Jack McCoy had some affairs with his ADAs including Claire; Mike’s mom beat him; Max was Catholic; and Captain Cragan’s wife’s name is Marge. Okay, that’s six fingers, which is barely two hands. The point is, that’s all I want to know about these people. I don’t care about their sex lives, what grade their kid is in, or what they wear when they run down to the bodega to buy milk. Just solve the stinkin’ case.

What sets this show apart from all the rest is the fact that I can watch the middle 15 minutes and still enjoy it. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t see the initial dead body discovery or the beat cop’s summary to the detectives. I don’t care who died. I simply like watching these guys in action. 

Predictable? Just a bit. For instance, if you recognize one of the actors early on in the show, he’s the murderer. He could be from a previous show, an old actor from a ‘70s sitcom or Joe Piscopo – if you’ve seen him on TV before, he did it.

There are a few repeat murderers who come back years later as someone else. And there are two cast members who started out as guests: Anita Van Buren was the cleaning lady mother of a dead kid, and ADA Alex took the stand to testify against her drug dealing murdering boyfriend. I realize the fact that I know that makes me the “natic” part of “fanatic.”

Yeah, yeah, whatever. Gotta go. Reruns are on TNT in five.