Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Law & Order Season Finales

Law & Order: SVU and Law & Order: Criminal Intent wrapped up their seasons tonight. Technically Criminal Intent aired their's yesterday, but they now run on Mondays & Tuesdays and I caught it tonight. Albeit by Tivo tape delay regardless. Both shows were good and had some nice twists and SVU had a cliffhanger for next season.

Special Victims Unit is my favorite of the Law & Orders and this finale delivered on a lot of levels. I'm not a fan of Ludacris and although he did a fine job in this role he still annoys me. Steven Webber also guest starred as his attorney but honestly was wasted as Ludacris got all his potential lines. I don't really know why Webber was even there as any actor could have filled his shoes. A murder trial basically opened up everything that's happened during the season. Tons of little side plots come unraveling and screw the whole unit up. To make matters worse Ludacris gets off and everyone's pissed.

It's unclear if Captain Donald Cragen, Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), A.D.A. Casey Novak or even John Munch (Richard Belzer) will be back next season. Hopefully they all return as the cast is really excellent. If I had to lose anyone it would be Novak as her character can be annoying at times. I doubt Munch is going anywhere, but they did seem to plant a seed there. They also added a new cast member which seems like the worst show to add one to. B.D. Wong already makes plenty of cameos and adding a additional detective seems like overkill when they barely found time for Ice-T and Belzer to do anything this season.

Meanwhile on Criminal Intent it was another Christopher Noth episode which I usually don't watch. It's nothing against Noth, but CI runs with two teams A team one week, B team the next. My girl likes Criminal Intent and prefers the wacky ways of Vincent D'Onofrio as opposed to Noth so we rarely watch the B team. Regardless since this was the finale we watched. It was a good episode that showed Noth's Detective Mike Logan's softer side. When his potential new girlfriend is found dead he's certain she was murdered. It turns out she wasn't, but instead she committed suicide after an ex-husband of her raped her. Noth showed a great range for his character which is usually smarky and a tight ass. You have to feel bad for his character who is helpless to avenge this woman whom he barely knew. Detective Megan Wheeler was wrote off for at least part of next season in this episode.

Both finales contained flaws. Special Victims Unit cast Ludacris in a role where he was supposed to be a career street thug, so it seemed out of place for him to act as his own second chair lawyer and basically unravel then entire precinct with his legal savvy. This seemed like something a rich well educated white guy would do, not a not a murderous drunk gang banger. Criminal Intent suffered because the story started out about a local hero/Police cadet being murdered and soon that story was shifted to the back burner to focus on Noth's plot. While Noth's plot was much more intriguing, the cadet's murder just went nowhere and despite them tracking a female serial killer which in itself sounds like a great plot device, felt flat and rushed. Even a cameo by Alexandra Eames (Kathryn Erbe) of the A team to fill in for Logan while he was out searching for his girl's killer, didn't seem to add anything to the story.

Regardless both L&O spinoffs had a great season and ended with grand finales. While Criminal Intent really fleshed out Detective Mike Logan's (Chris Noth's) character, SVU went for a more traditional season ending approach. I guess one could complain that Logan had 5 years or so on the original L&O and didn't need the fleshing out, but he showed more character here then he probably has in all the past seasons alone. SVU gets the nod as the better episode and I'll be eager to see both these shows when they return in 08'. Hopefully budget issues won't see any of the actors get the axe as these shows have become a Tuesday night tradition.

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