Posted Mon, 05/23/11
Law & Order SVU has been one of my favorite television programs for many years. I don't watch telly much anymore for a myriad of reasons, but always try to make time for new episodes of SVU.
The show deals with twisted sex crimes, but that's not the reason I like it. I enjoy the often humorous interaction between the main characters, along with their displays of humanity and varied coping skills as they face impossibly atrocious circumstances.
The other day I flipped through a copy of TV Week Magazine, which is one of the supplements included with the Sunday newspaper. A short article about Law & Order SVU caught my eye, located in the "On Tap" segment of the guide. The brief piece was authored by Jacqueline Cutler, entitled Commanding Respect on SVU.
SVU recently wrapped it's 12th season, with the article describing a 13th-year renewal had yet to be announced by NBC.
The following exchange from the article made me chuckle:
"You know that cha-ching sound?" adds Ice-T, who plays Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola. "It's (creator) Dick Wolf's cash register."
They're very different guys, but playing partners all these years has given Belzer and Ice-T a deep bond.
"We don't finish each other's sentences," Belzer says. "We just look at each other, and whole paragraphs are finished."
They've played partners for eleven years, which Belzer notes "is longer than my first two marriages - combined."
Ice-T is convinced they're playing heightened versions of themselves. "Chris is definitely an angry white man," he says of Christopher Meloni, who plays Detective Elliot Stabler.
Munch and Fin are always good for a laugh, despite the serious SVU storylines.
I also have a handful of absolute favorite SVU episodes:
Episode 20: Remorse (2000)
Television reporter Sarah Logan refuses to let her recent rape get her down, and talks about her experiences on the air which leads to the arrest of a young man that the police feel is responsible by Benson and Stabler, as Munch finds himself forming a bond with the brave reporter. My notes: I like this episode because it gives Richard Belzer (Detective Munch) a chance to shine his acting skills, which are much better than some might think.
Episode 40: Manhunt (2001)
The details of a kidnapping are similar to a series of rapes and murders that may link the crime to a serial killer. My notes: Another episode featuring Richard Belzer. Top notch acting – getting the "bad guy" in the end as he crosses the Canadian-American border is quite a triumph, felt through the acting skills alone.
Episode 43: Scourge (2001)
The team searches for a serial killer who justifies his crimes with paranoid religious motivation set on by a rapidly deteriorating medical condition. My notes: The "serial" killer is none other than Richard Thomas ("John Boy" from the Waltons), who is beset by advanced venereal disease gone unchecked and unreported by his insurance company. Thomas' wide-ranging skills are astounding – he is perhaps one of the most underrated actors working today.
Episode 58: Execution (2002)
As an inmate gets closer and closer to his death sentence, Stabler struggles to find out whether that man was the perpetrator of a different crime with an unidentified murderer. Dr. Huang assists Stabler but the investigation goes haywire to mixed results. Actor Nick Chinlund as inmate Nick Brodus is chilling and convincing in his portrayal. My notes: I read an interview with Christopher Meloni after the fact and he admitted that working with Chinlund in character was one of the most "intense" scenes he had filmed on the show to date – in other words, Chinlund was so convincing he was scary in person and on set.
Episode 200: Authority (2008)
An engineer plays a series of mind games with Benson and Stabler. Robin Williams guest stars in the 200th episode of SVU. He plays an engineer who turns to manipulating people into doing criminal acts and then begins playing games with detectives when they investigate. Robin Williams gave a very eerie and chilling performance as an engineer who turns to manipulation and games. My notes: The 200th episode of Law & Order SVU was by far one of the best I've ever seen. Robin Williams guest-starred as engineer Merritt Rook, and the fashion in which the story ended leaves the possibility of him returning to the show again wide open. Loved his performance!
Episode 218: Ballerina (2009)
Detectives believe a murder suspect was thrown out of a window to his death, and their investigation focuses on the suspect's wife, her nephew who lives with them, and their unusual special relationship. My notes: Carol Burnett was mind-blowing in this episode. Her comedic skills are well-known, but her dramatic talents are just as wide-ranging. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role on SVU.
*Episode descriptions copyright TV.Com.
The show is a kicker and I never tire of watching it. It's refreshing to see a program of quality carry on, considering the junk allowed on television these days.
*POSTSCRIPT 05/25/11: Drat! It's been announced actor Christopher Meloni (aka Elliot Stabler) is leaving SVU. More > Christopher Meloni retires from Law & Order SVU after 12 years.