The End of the Original ‘Law & Order’

Posted on May 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I was sorry to hear that the original Law & Order has been canceled by NBC just as it was about to break the record set by “Gunsmoke” as the longest-running live action television series. I can’t help feeling that there have already been so many episodes of the original and its many spin-offs that (a) at any given moment, there is one on cable somewhere and (b) no single person will ever find the time to see all of them. But cancellation of the original means that there will only be one left that is shot in New York. And for me, the greatest pleasure of the show is seeing so many fine East Coast actors. It has been many years since I have read the actor biographies in a theater program without finding at least two or three of them have listed “Law and Order” in their credits. NPR’s wonderful Monkey See blog has a post about the famous actors who appeared on the show and its offshoots early in their careers, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Claire Danes, Amanda Peet, and Lauren Ambrose. Some of my favorites have shown up, too, including Bobby Cannavale, Samuel L. Jackson, John Ritter, Cynthia Nixon, Ludacris, and Martin Short. And I loved Michael Kinsley’s piece on Slate about the challenges of loving women who watch (but don’t necessarily love) “Law & Order.”I look forward to watching re-runs for many years and discovering early performances from more future stars. In the meantime, as the ultimate proof of the show’s impact on our culture, here’s an affectionate tribute from “Sesame Street.”

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8 Replies to “The End of the Original ‘Law & Order’”

  1. Law and Order is, consistantly, the best show on television and I was very upset when I learned that the show had been cancelled. Not so much because it was cancelled, but because it was unceremoniously dumped without being given a proper series finale or any of the fanfare that ER’s final season goAs soon as I found out, I emailed NBC and told them they should be ashamed of themselves. They really need to do a TV movie or even a miniseries to tie things up and give the show the sendoff it deserves.

  2. I’m not really surprised that L&O got canceled, as it hasn’t been the same ever since we lost Jerry Orbach. And then making Sam Waterson the DA — it just started feeling like a caricature of its former greatness. But I do agree with the sentiment that a show that has made as much money for the network as what the L&O franchise has needed a proper send-off, not to be unceremoniously thrown on the trash heap.
    In other news, Special Letters Unit was a hoot (and that actually was Richard Belzer voicing the Munch muppet). When it was first made, I’d read somewhere that there was discussion about making an SLU for every letter of the alphabet, but all I’ve ever seen is the original “M”.

  3. I had no idea that was really Belzer, Dave! How delightful. And agreed about the churlishness of the cancellation. Thanks so much for another great comment.

  4. So do you think they will finally reveal how the iconic opening sound was made?
    We did the TV tour of Manhattan a few years ago. I think they finally shot every possible angle of the neighborhood near the studio where L&O was filmed. Perhaps that is why the end of this show and the beginning of L&O:LA.
    When attending local repertory theaters productions it has become a game to see how many actors have been on L&O, and if we recognize them. A couple of actors have proudly proclaimed they have NEVER been on any L&O episodes (though I bet if a part was offered they would leap at the chance).

  5. My husband and I play the L&O game when we go to the theater, too. I’ll bet that distinctive sound will remain a secret like the Colonel’s spices and the recipe for Coca-Cola!

  6. I do have to ask, though, about the comment regarding only one remaining L&O being shot in New York. Did I miss something? Was either SVU or CI also canceled? Or is one of them shot somewhere else?

  7. CI seems to be on again/off again these days. Now that it’s on USA, they don’t run new episodes with any sort of regularity. They just make a few new ones every so often (or at least they only air new ones every so often). Then again, I don’t pay that much attention because I never liked CI as much as the other two. I did enjoy Trial By Jury though and was disappointed that it only lasted one season. I’m hoping L&O:LA will run longer than that.

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