|Law & Order|
|Alternate Title(s)|| L&O, |
Law & Order: Mothership
|Format|| Crime Drama|
|Picture Format|| 480i (SDTV),|
|Running Time||40–45 minutes|
|Created by||Dick Wolf|
|Narrated By||Steven Zirnkilton|
|Opening Theme||by Mike Post|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original run||13 September 1990|
|Finale||24 May 2010|
|No. of seasons||20|
|No. of episodes|| 456|
(As of present)
|List of episodes||Law & Order episodes|
|IMDB profile||Law & Order|
|TV.com summary||Law & Order|
|related shows||Law & Order franchise|
- "In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories."
Law & Order is a television series that originally aired on NBC, premiering on 13 September 1990. Filmed on location in New York, the drama showcases the sometimes-complex process of determining guilt or innocence, while lives hang in the balance.
The show follows a crime, often loosely based on real crimes that have received media attention or as the series calls it Ripped from the headlines, the plots highlight legal, ethical or personal dilemmas to which people can relate. Shown from two separate vantage points, thus usually splitting episodes into two halves. The first half ("Law"), followed two New York City Police Department Homicide Unit detectives investigating a crime. This crime was not always a homicide or attempted homicide, especially in the first nine seasons of the show, and before Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered sometimes the crime would involved a Rape or kidnapping. The second half of the show ("Order") focused on the Manhattan District Attorney's Office trying to convict the suspect in court.
On May 14, 2010, NBC announced that it will cancelled Law & Order and would finished airing after Season 20, which finished 24 May 2010. As of February 2015, rumors have started stating NBC has talked about bringing back Law & Order for ten episodes. (citation needed • edit)
History and Development
In 1988, Dick Wolf developed a concept for a new television series that would depict a relatively optimistic picture of the American criminal justice system. He initially toyed with the idea of calling it Night & Day but then hit upon the title Law & Order. The first half of each episode would follow two detectives (a senior and a junior detective) and their commanding officer as they investigate a violent crime. The second half of the episode would follow the District Attorney's Office and the courts as two prosecutors, with advice from the District Attorney himself, attempt to convict the accused. Through this, Law & Order would be able to investigate some of the larger issues of the day by focusing on stories that were based on real cases making headlines.
Wolf took the idea to then-president of Universal Television Kerry McCluggage, who pointed out the similarity to a 1963 series titled Arrest and Trial, which lasted one season. The two watched the pilot of that series, in which a police officer (Ben Gazzara) arrested a man for armed robbery in the first half, and the defense attorney, played by Chuck Connors gets the perpetrator off as the wrong guy in the second half; this was the formula of the show every week. Wolf decided that, while his detectives would occasionally also be fallible, he wanted a fresh approach to the genre, to go from police procedural to prosecution with a greater degree of realism. In addition, the prosecution would be the hero, a reversal of the usual formula in lawyer dramas.
Initially, Fox ordered thirteen episodes based on the concept alone, with no pilot. Then-network head Barry Diller reversed the decision. Although he loved the idea, he didn't believe it was a "Fox show". Wolf then went to CBS, which ordered a pilot, "Everybody's Favorite Bagman", written by Wolf about corrupt city officials involved with the mob. The network liked the pilot but did not order it because there were no breakout stars. In the summer of 1989, NBC's top executives, Brandon Tartikoff and Warren Littlefield, screened the pilot and liked it; but they were concerned the intensity of the series could not be repeated week after week. However, by 1990, NBC executives had enough confidence that the innovative show could appeal to a wide audience that they ordered the series for a full season.
The series was shot on location in New York City and is known for its extensive use of local color. In later seasons, New York City mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg, attorney William Kunstler and Bronx Congressman José Serrano all appeared on the show as themselves. Local personalities also had recurring cameos as fictional characters, such as Donna Hanover and Fran Lebowitz as judges. On September 14, 2004, in New York City, a road leading to Pier 62 at Chelsea Piers (where the series was mostly shot) was renamed "Law & Order Way" in tribute to the series.
The following characters are the police who investigate crime:
District Attorney Characters
The following characters are the District Attorney's who prosecute the offenders:
Other Main Characters
|Roy Thinnes||New York City, Manhattan District Attorney (DA)'s|
Office, Manhattan District Attorney (DA)
|Carolyn McCormick||New York City Police Department (N.Y.P.D.) /|
New York City, Manhattan District Attorney
(DA)'s Office, Psychologist / Psychiatrist Doctor
Elizabeth "Liz" Olivet
|Seasons 3 & 4|
(Recurring throughout the rest of the series)
Note: DA Wentworth appeared only in the original pilot, "Everybody's Favorite Bagman".
Recurring Guest Stars
- For a list of recurring characters, see L&O recurring characters.
Law & Order episodes are typically segmented into two parts, roughly at the halfway point; the first part follows police and detective work, and the second follows the legal and courtroom proceedings of the case. The show dwells little on the characters' back-stories or social lives, focusing mainly on their lives at work.
The Police Portion
For most of Law & Order's run, the cold open or lead-in of the show began with the discovery of a crime, usually a murder. The scene typically began with a slice of everyday life in New York City. Some civilians would then discover the crime victim, or sometimes the crime would occur in a public place and they would be witnesses or a victim of a crime. The only exception to this is in the early seasons, mostly Seasons 1 & 2, the crime would usually be discovered by a pair of patrol officers or beat cops or in later seasons when the cold open was replaced with rapid cuts of the victim's final moments, similar to Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
The police are represented in the show by the New York City Police Department 27th Precinct homicide department. In the show, it is common that the detectives also investigate other cases other than homicide or attempted homicides like kidnappings and rape, the latter especially in the first nine seasons of the show before Law & Order: Special Victims Unit premiered. However, in the real world, these cases are handled by other units and divisions.
The viewers are introduced to two homicide detectives, a senior detective (usually a veteran cop) and a junior detective (usually a young but capable detective), who report directly to their boss at their precinct (either a Lieutenant or a Captain). When they first arrive at the crime scene they are met by the first responding officer or a Crime Scene Unit (CSU) forensic technician, who will inform the two lead detectives on everything known at that point. It's during they're preliminary crime scene examination, that the featured detectives will make their first observations and will come up with some theories followed by a witticism or two before the title sequence begins.
The detectives often have few or no good clues—they might not even know the victim's identity—and must usually chase several dead ends before finding a likely suspect(s). They start their investigations at the crime scene by talking to any witnesses at the scene while the CSU technicians start processing the scene by collecting forensic evidence.
The Crime Scene Unit assists the two detectives in the processing of the crime scene as well as determining the proper routing of evidence between the Medical Examiner's office, the Crime Lab and the NYPD Property Clerks office. The CSU has many tools at there disposal to process a crime scene including the materials needed to develop fingerprints, cast footwear and tire impressions, follow the trajectory of bullets fired through windows and the chemicals necessary to observe blood under special lighting conditions that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. The unit is also trained to process a crime scene in a hazardous environment, for example following a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.
The medical examiner (M.E.)'s office will also be shown to collect the body from the crime scene. As well as appear to do an on-site investigation into manner and cause of death; identification of remains. Later the medical examiner will perform an autopsy on the victim(s), offering more clues to the victim's cause and time of death (sometimes obtaining the victim's identity from dental records or fingerprints and other crime evidence collected by the Police Department for DNA extraction and typing;) which the detectives will read about in the M.E.'s autopsy report and by talking to the M.E. who performed it.
When the detectives know the victim's identity they will inform their relatives or loved ones of their death and attempt to get more information on the victim's life and possible suspects. The detectives continue their investigation by interviewing witnesses and possible suspects, all the while tracing the victim's last known movements and victim's state of mind (by talking to the victim's family, friends and co-workers). Sometimes they will have someone they suspect of the crime and in checking their alibi they will trace the last known movements and the state of mind of the current suspect by talking to the people in the person(s) life until they are either ruled out or dead certain of the guilt of the person they suspect. They also visit the crime laboratory to submit and view evidence (e.g. fingerprints, DNA and ballistics, etc.), they may also look into any background information such as financial details and criminal history on both the victim and lead suspect. In some instances, psychologists and/or psychiatrists are called in for insight into the criminal's behavior or modus operandi. All the while, the detectives report to their commanding officer, keeping them informed and being advised on how best to proceed next.
When the detectives are certain they have the right suspect(s), the police will take the case to their boss, who decides if there is enough for a search and/or arrest warrant (though sometimes the commanding officer will consult with the New York City District Attorney's office to see if the case is strong enough) and whether or not any backup (such as uniformed officers or an armed tactical team) is needed. The detectives will then arrest the suspects(s), with the police sometimes having to chase the accused through the streets of New York. The scene then shifts to the interrogation room where the detectives interrogate the suspect(s) until they ask for a lawyer, their defense attorney shows up and asks the suspect not to talk anymore, or the Assistant District Attorney from the D.A.'s office decides they have enough to press charges.
The Trial Portion
Towards the middle of a show, the police will begin to work with the prosecutors to make the arrest, though sometimes the Assistant District Attorney will appear earlier to arrange a plea-for-information deal or to decide if the detectives have enough evidence for search or arrest warrants before arresting the suspects. An arraignment court scene will follow, in which the defendants plead (usually not guilty) and bail conditions are set.
The matter is then taken over by a pair of representatives from the New York County District Attorney's Office, an Executive Assistant District Attorney and an Assistant District Attorney. They discuss deals, prepare the witnesses and evidence, and conduct the People's case in the trial. The District Attorneys work together and with the Medical Examiner's office, the crime laboratory (including fingerprint analysts, DNA profilers and ballistics analysts), and psychologists or psychiatrists (if the defendant uses an insanity plea), all of whom may be needed to testify in court for the prosecution. The police may also reappear to testify in court or to arrest another suspect, but most of the investigating in the second segment is done by the D.A.'s office, in consultation with the District Attorney for advice on the case, as the D.A., being an elected official, sometimes brings political considerations to bear concerning decisions to prosecute the various alleged offenders. If the case is very weak then the police would re-investigate.
Unlike many other legal dramas (e.g., The Defenders, Matlock, Perry Mason and L.A. Law), the court proceedings are shown from the prosecution's point of view, with the regular characters trying to prove the defendant's guilt, not innocence. After the arraignment of defendants, the D.A.s proceed to trial preparation, including legal research and plea negotiations. Some episodes include legal proceedings beyond the testimony of witnesses, including motion hearings, (often concerning admissibility of evidence); jury selection; and allocations, usually as a result of plea bargains. Many episodes employ motions to suppress evidence as a plot device, and most of these end with evidence or statements being suppressed, often on a technicality. This usually begins with the service of the motion to the D.A. team, follows with argument and case citations of precedent before a judge in court, and concludes with a visual reaction of the winning or losing attorney.
Many episodes use outlandish defense scenarios such as diminished responsibility (e.g. "Genetics"/"Television"/"God"/"the devil made me do it" and intoxication defense) and temporary insanity (e.g. "Black Rage"/"White Rage"/"Sports Rage"). Some episodes revolve around moral and ethical debates including the right to die (euthanasia), the right to life (abortion), and the right to bear arms (gun control). Episodes usually end with the verdict being read by the jury foreperson and a shot of both the winning and losing parties. The scene then shifts to the District Attorney's office, where the team is leaving the office to go home while contemplating either the true guilt of the accused, the defense scenarios that were used, or the moral or ethical issue that was central to the episode.
For a list of episodes, see List of Law & Order episodes.
The show premiered September 13, 1990, and ended on May 24, 2010. 456 episodes were aired and produced. The show ran for twenty seasons on NBC. It was NBC's longest running crime drama, and tied for longest running prime-time scripted drama with Gunsmoke. The first two seasons were broadcast Tuesdays at 10 pm. From season 3 through 16 the show aired Wednesday at 10 pm. For season 17, it moved to Fridays at 10 pm. For seasons 18 and 19, the show shifted back to Wednesdays at 10 pm. For season 20 the show was broadcast Fridays at 8 pm, while in the spring it moved to Mondays at 10 pm, where it broadcast its series finale on May 24, 2010.
On May 14, 2010, NBC announced that it will be cancelled the show, opting instead to pick up Law & Order: Los Angeles for a first season, and renewed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for a twelfth. The cancellation was announced after last-minute talks between NBC and Dick Wolf to extend the series failed to lead to an agreement.
Almost exactly one year later, on May 13, 2011, NBC canceled after one season for Law & Order: LA following a decline in the ratings after the show had been retooled and moved to Monday nights.
Awards and Honors
Law & Order has been nominated for numerous awards in the television industry over the span of its run. Among its wins are the 1997 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Male Actor in a Drama Series for Sam Waterston in 1999 and Jerry Orbach in 2005 (awarded after his death), and numerous Edgar Awards for Best Episode in a Television Series Teleplay.
In 2002, Law & Order was ranked No. 24 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. The show also placed No. 27 on Entertainment Weekly's "New TV Classics" list.
In 2013, TV Guide ranked Law & Order #14 on their list of the 60 Greatest Shows of All Time.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The 1st Year||22||October 15, 2002 / June 4, 2013|
|The 2nd Year||22||May 4, 2003 / June 3, 2004|
|The 3rd Year||22||May 24, 2004 / June 3, 2014|
|The 4th Year||22||December 5, 2005 / June 3, 2014|
|The 5th Year||23||April 3, 2007 / June 3, 2014|
|The 6th Year||23||December 2, 2008 / May 26, 2008|
|The 7th Year||23||January 19, 2010 / May 26, 2015|
|The 8th Year||24||December 7, 2010 / May 26, 2015|
|The 9th Year||24||December 6, 2011|
|The 10th Year||24||February 28, 2012|
|The 11th Year||24||November 6, 2012|
|The 12th Year||24||February 25, 2013|
|The 13th Year||24||November 5, 2013|
|The 14th Year||24||September 14, 2004 / February 25, 2014|
|The 15th Year||24||November 4, 2014|
|The 16th Year||22|
|The 17th Year||22|
|The 18th Year||18||May 5, 2015|
|The 19th Year||22|
|The 20th and Final Year||23|