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Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink the 21st season of Law and Order, considering the two episodes which have aired at the time of recording. We find it to spilt the baby of grizzled procedural and social conscience in half, and amazingly that’s not a good thing.
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I always thought that “the people are represented” in the opening was the same as “The People versus” in a criminal case. It’s the same detachment as not having characters’ interiority. So it’s not the victim or their family represented by two equally important groups, but a larger and less personal.
I’m usually the first person to defend original Law and Order, which has problems, just not to the extent people say. The system often fails. The characters clearly have their own values. Jack McCoy would give his own grandmother the chair.
But these new episodes were totally lacking what is good about Law and Order. Law and Order deals with political issues sometimes and it’s not always done well… but sometimes it is, but always through the twists in the case, and an ending asking “what is justice.” These episodes seemed more concerned with telling me “this is justice” and it actually got in the way of interesting cases. An great old school L&O episode would have had the detectives find out the Elizabeth Holmes character was abused… after she was convicted. Or they would have left it as a question. Or they would have reveled it really was a mugging. Or they would have thrown in a new suspect who killed the guy for a totally different reason.
It’s not what you think. It’s something else entirely!
But you can’t do that while you feel the need to explain to people “this is the right way to think.”
Mostly, it made me think, “wow, The Good Wife is such a better show” (though I tend to think that watching anything). But, really, The Good Wife is a great show about how the system is a mess, from a lot of levels.