TV Review - Law & Order: Los Angeles
|Corey Stoll (left) and Alfred Molina|
in "Law & Order: Los Angeles"
The latest spin-off from the famous Dick Wolf series had a funny and brief life on NBC. Law & Order: Los Angeles premiered in the fall of 2010. It linked itself with the most popular of the spin-offs, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. There were even two crossover episodes to help bridge the two shows. After a couple of months though, the show was taken off the air. At first, I thought it was cancelled, but the network merely put it on hiatus for a whopping 19 weeks. That's about five months, which is one month longer than the summer hiatus that most prime-time network shows get. It was eventually returned, retooled, in April 2011, but, unfortunately, the next month, NBC announced that the new show wasn't coming back for a second season.
I wasn't a fan of this short series, but I'm not going to say that it was a bad show. In many ways, the show was more aesthetically-pleasing than the New York shows, brighter I suppose, but, in other ways, it was more brutal. One episode opened with a woman being shot in the forehead. Another had a man dismemebered by a bomb, and usually these episodes begin with someone stumbling upon a corpse. This show liked to depict the actual killings or crimes. I'm not sure but this may have been a desperate attempt at ratings, but the rest of Law & Order: LA was structured as the other spin-offs. Two cops investigate a murder, arrest someone, question him or her, and then two lawyers come in and prosecute.
Perhaps, people were tired of yet another Law & Order. Last year, Law & Order: UK was also launched. Law & Order: LA did have an interesting and beautiful cast, which included Skeet Ulrich, Oded Fehr, and Alana De La Garza. The acting standouts were Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard. Both of whom elevated the show beyond its material.
It's odd that the material, a lot of the stories, were related or commenting on Hollywood or celebrity. It would be like every other episode of Special Victims Unit or SVU being about Broadway. There were of course stories ripped from the headlines, as is the staple. Some of the headlines were pretty crazy, but the crimes were pretty much straight-forward.
Unlike SVU, it didn't have as many ridiculous twists and turns, which may or may not have been a good thing. What SVU was good at doing that LA wasn't was character development, and not just of the cops and lawyers, but of the victims and the criminals. Last year, when LA was first airing, SVU was airing episodes that proved this point perfectly.
In SVU, Henry Ian Cusick (Lost) guest starred in multiple episodes as a man going after sex offenders and pedophiles, he then turned out to be one himself. His arc throughout these episodes was extremely well-played. Jennifer Love Hewitt (Ghost Whisperer) guest starred as a rape victim who was stalked by one guy for years and over miles. Her wordless performance, as she had a rape kit done on her, was nothing short of powerful and Emmy-worthy.
I only wish I saw something or anything as powerful in the LA series.
Three Stars out of Five.
Running Time: 1 hr.