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Law & Order

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Jerry Orbach as Detective Lenny Briscoe and Sam Waterston as Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, two of the longest running characters in the seriesEnlarge

Jerry Orbach as Detective Lenny Briscoe and Sam Waterston as Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, two of the longest running characters in the series

Law & Order is the longest-running drama currently on American television (2004). A police procedural and courtroom drama series, it first screened on the NBC network in 1990.

Created by Dick Wolf, award-winning Law & Order is syndicated on other US networks and worldwide.

The show follows a small team of New York City detectives who investigate a serious crime (usually a murder). Generally, about halfway through the hour-long program the focus shifts from the investigation of the crime to the prosecution of the offender, which is always handed over to the same small team of lawyers from the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

The series has a number of distinctive stylistic touches. The show is made on location in New York City, and is known for its extensive use of local color. The cold open usually shows a slice of New York life unrelated to the main story. Many scenes are preceded with a card indicating the location and date of the events portrayed. Perhaps best known is the musical sting which accompanies scene changes.

The show's cast of police and lawyers are portrayed as basically honest professionals, very rarely straying from the boundaries of accepted procedure and usually solving crimes by hard slog and attention to detail rather than hunches and personal whimsy. Their private lives are rarely mentioned, and usually only in passing or if they intrude on their work. Perhaps the scenes involving lawyers stray from reality a little more, with a far higher proportion of cases going to trial than in real life (although plea bargaining plays a far greater role than in other series), trial lawyers acting as pseudo-detectives, and an unusually high number of twists near the end of trials. In contrast to detective shows of the 1950s such as Perry Mason, the protagonists of the program do not always win their cases, and many programs have resolutions in which the case against the offender is won, but justice is still not fully served.

Most Law & Order episodes are self-contained, with only a few exceptions over the many years of production.

Many of the storylines on the show, particularly in later seasons, have been widely regarded as thinly-disguised fictionalizations of recent real criminal cases that have been reported in the news media. Some of these episodes are even promoted as being “ripped from the headlines.”

Law & Order is noted for its revolving cast—many actors only stay with the show for a few seasons before moving on. This continual replacing of actors has not appeared to harm the program's popularity. In fact, it has been speculated that this has contributed to the series' long run since the regular turnover of cast members has allowed cast salaries to be kept relatively low. The four long-serving exceptions are Steven Hill (19902000) as District Attorney Adam Schiff, Jerry Orbach (1992–present) as Detective Lenny Briscoe, S. Epatha Merkerson (1993–present) as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren and Sam Waterston (1994–present) as Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy.

The show's popularity has resulted in the creation of two other television dramas: and . These shows focus more on the police drama. A third spinoff, is planned for fall of 2004.

The pilot episode "Everybody's Favorite Bagman" was produced for CBS in 1988. Law & Order crossed-over with another NBC show . There was also a TV movie Exiled which features what the fate of Mike Logan (played by Chris Noth), one of the popular characters who departed the series.

The producers have also crafted a reality television series, Crime and Punishment, which focuses on actual trials. The producers of Law & Order also produced an updated version of the series Dragnet which was not successful.

The ever-growing number of spinoffs to Law & Order prompted one episode of The Simpsons to lampoon the series with a brief clip of Law & Order: Elevator Inspectors Unit.

Table of contents
1 Cast
2 Recurring Supporting Castmembers
3 External link

Cast

Law

The Old Cop

The Young Cop The Captain

Order

The Assistant District Attorney

The Executive Assistant District Attorney

The District Attorney

Recurring Supporting Castmembers

For a brief period, Carolyn McCormick also had star billing as a psychiatrist, Dr. Elizabeth Olivet. This was intended to address criticism of not having any actresses in the show. J.K. Simmons's character Emil Skoda later became the staff psychiatrist. There are several other recurring characters, among them John Fiore as Det. Tony Profaci, Lorraine Toussaint as Defense Attorney Shambala Green, Tovah Feldshuh as Defense Attorney Danielle Melnick, Leslie Hendrix as Medical Examiner Elizabeth Rodgers M.D., and Josh Pais as Assitant Medical Examiner Borak.

Because the show is filmed in New York City and requires a large number of guest stars for each episode, many 'repeat offenders' return in different roles. Jerry Orbach played a defense lawyer in the second season and later returned to the show as a Detective Lenny Briscoe who intensely dislikes defense lawyers for protecting the "scum of the earth." Also, several actors appeared in episodes before they were well known; Cynthia Nixon, Dylan Baker, and Edie Falco are among them.

External link