Law & Order Killer TV No 13

law-300x1401990-2010 NBC

‘I specifically asked for him to be put on suicide watch. Apparently, here at Riker’s, that means that they watch you commit suicide.’ – Detective Lennie Briscoe

George Dzundza, Chris Noth, Richard Brooks, Jeremy Sisto, Paul Sorvino, Linus Roache, Alana de la Garza, Sam Waterson, Jerry Orbach, Diane Wiest, Dennis Farina

Identikit: Police procedural come legal drama split equally between the cops who do the arresting and the lawyers who prosecute.

logosA tight format, with its ‘law’ and ‘order’ segments, gave the series a winning formula for 20 years, taking in Emmy awards and leading to a several major franchise of spin-offs. Telling the criminal-pursuit story and then the trial story meant that plotting and characterisation was extremely pared down, but this didn’t prevent the show from giving us good protagonists and memorable stories about challenging dilemmas. The series, created by Dick Wolf, was similar to a 1963 series called Arrest and Trial and a UK series also called Law and Order, with Wolf injecting a good dose of realism into the dramas and lining up the prosecution instead of the defence to be the heroes. Jerry Orbach, twice turned down in favour of George Dzundza and Paul Sorvino, eventually became a memorable Lennie Briscoe, while Sam Waterston (as assistant DA Jack McCoy), Chris Noth (detective Mike Logan), Diane Wiest (DA Nora Lewin) and Dennis Farina (detective Joe Fontana) all stood out in a terrific, evolving cast. Storylines were often ‘ripped from the headlines’, inspired by real murder, bribery or rape cases, some with complex racial elements. Each 50-minute episode was slick, packed with plot and subplot, and filmed on handheld cameras and snappily edited. The series was cancelled by NBC in 2010, meaning it narrowly missed usurping Gunsmoke as primetime TV’s longest-running drama.


Law & Order: UK with Bradley Walsh and Jamie Bamber

Spin-offs: Special Victims Unit, Criminal Intent, Trial by Jury, LA, and overseas revamps set in Paris, Russia and London.

Classic episode: Savages (season 6) – The death penalty has just been reinstated in New York. When an unlikely suspect murders an undercover cop, prosecutors must decide whether to press for capital punishment. DA McCoy (Sam Waterston) wants it, while Kincaid (Jill Hennessy) argues powerfully against. An excellent episode with a politically charged storyline.

Watercooler fact: When Chris Noth was jettisoned from the show by head honcho Dick Wolf, fans and critics were stunned and disappointed. Wolf had felt there was not enough dramatic contrast between Noth’s Mike Logan and Jerry Orbach’s Briscoe. But years later, Noth convinced Wolf to make the TV movie Exiled to wrap up Logan’s story, and Noth followed that up by returning as Logan for two seasons in Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Law & Order: UK – trailer for ‘Pride’

Big episode on the ever excellent Law & Order: UK tonight (Wed, 2 March, ITV, 9pm), with Harriet Walter returning as Ronnie’s old boss – but now she’s in a spot of bother herself. The episode is called Pride, and in it Ronnie (Bradley Walsh) and Joe (Ben Bailey Smith) are looking for a murderer and find that the accused is a guy called Eddie Stewart (Martin Jarvis), who happens to be ex-DI Natalie Chandler’s father, making it a tough day for Ronnie. Here’s a trailer…

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ITV making new series of Vera, Law & Order: UK and Scott & Bailey

Scott & Bailey. Pic: ITV

• Three recent ITV1 hits are returning for new series – Vera, Law & Order: UK and Scott & Bailey. Series 3 of Vera goes into production with Brenda Blethyn in September for four new two-hour films. Law & Order: UK starts filming in November, but without Freema Agyeman and Harriet Walters, who have other theatre and filming commitments. Scriptwriter Emilia Di Girolamo returns to create a two-part story, with the second part exploring a day in the life of the characters. Suranne Jones, currently to be see in the cop comedy A Touch of Cloth, and Lesley Sharp also return as the hugely popular Scott & Bailey for a third series.

• Vote now for your favourite ITV1 detective duo in the 2012 Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards, to be announced on Thursday, 18 October, at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. The event will again be shown on ITV3.

‘Best Detective Duo’ by Public Vote 
The British public will can vote for their favourite detective duo by phone vote. The phone lines open at noon on 7 September 2012. 

The shortlist is as follows: 
DCI Banks – DCI Alan Banks & DS Annie Cabbot  Call 090 16 16 14 01 
Above Suspicion – DC Anna Travis & DCS James Langton  Call 090 16 16 14 02 
Scott and Bailey- DC Jane Scott & DC Rachel Bailey  Call 090 16 16 14 03 
Lewis – DI Robbie Lewis & DS James Hathaway  Call 090 16 16 14 04 
Whitechapel – DI Joseph Chandler & DS Ray Miles  Call 090 16 16 14 05
Vera – DCI Vera Stanhope & DS Joe Ashworth  Call 090 16 16 14 06

The rest of the Specsavers TV and Film Daggers nominations are: 

      The Film Dagger

Drive (Icon)
The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Sony)
The Guard (Optimum)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Studio Canal) 
The TV Dagger
Appropriate Adult (ITV Studios/ITV1)
Line of Duty (BBC/BBC2)
Sherlock: Series 2 (Hartswood Films/BBC1)
Wallander (Left Bank Pictures, Yellow Bird/BBC1)
Whitechapel: Series 3 (Carnival/ITV1)

The International TV Dagger
Boardwalk Empire: Season 2 (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Dexter: Season 6 (Showtime Networks, John Goldwyn Productions, TheColleton Company, ClydePhillips Productions/FX)
Homeland (Teakwood Lane Productions, Showtime Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Media Group, Fox 21/Channel 4)
The Bridge (Danmarks Radio, Sveriges Television/BBC4)
The Killing II: Forbrydelsen (Arrow Films/BBC4)

The Best Actress Dagger
Brenda Blethyn for Vera (ITV Studios/ITV1)
Claire Danes for Homeland (Teakwood Lane Productions, Showtime Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Media Group, Fox 21/Channel 4)
Sofie Gråbøl for The Killing II (Arrow Films/BBC4)
Sofia Helin for The Bridge (Danmarks Radio, Sveriges Television/BBC4)
Maxine Peake for Silk (BBC/BBC1)

The Best Actor Dagger
Kenneth Branagh for Wallander (Left Bank Pictures,Yellow Bird/BBC1)
Steve Buscemi for Boardwalk Empire (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Benedict Cumberbatch for Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC1)
Damien Lewis for Homeland (Teakwood Lane Productions, Showtime Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Media Group, Fox 21/Channel 4)
Dominic West for Appropriate Adult (ITV Studios/ITV1
The Best Supporting Actress Dagger
Frances Barber for Silk (BBC/BBC1)
Kelly Macdonald for Boardwalk Empire (HBO/Sky Atlantic)
Archie Panjabi for The Good Wife (Scott Free Productions, King Size Productions, Small Wishes, CBS Productions/More 4)
Sarah Smart for Wallander (Left Bank Pictures, Yellow Bird/BBC1)
Una Stubbs for Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC1)
The Best Supporting Actor Dagger
Alun Armstrong for Garrow’s Law (Shed Media/BBC1)
Alan Cumming for The Good Wife (Scott Free Productions, King Size Productions, Small Wishes, CBS Productions/More 4)
Phil Davis for Silk & Whitechapel (Silk: BBC/BBC1)(Whitechapel: Carnival/ITV1)
Laurence Fox for Lewis (ITV Studios/ITV1)

      Martin Freeman for Sherlock (Hartswood Films/BBC1)

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Crime latest – Jamie Bamber to return? Spooks and Morton, In the Line of Duty, The Scapegoat

• Is this the end for Jamie Bamber in Law & Order: UK? His character, DS Matt Devlin, the show’s heart-throb, was shot at the end of series five earlier this year. It’s just been announced that Paul Nicholls will be joining the cast as DS Sam Casey alongside Bradley Walsh (DS Ronnie Brooks). Casey is described as ‘headstrong’ and will help with the investigation into Devlin’s cliffhanger shooting. Stories in series six, to be shown in 2012, will include a shocking crime captured on video, a hostage hunt, cases re-opened and the past catching up with Brooks. Guests will include Tamzin Outhwaite, Toby Stephens, Eva Pope, Luke Roberts and Tim McInnerny. But does Devlin (pictured) survive the shooting? Pic: ITV

• So, Matthew Macfadyen is reprising his role as Tom Quinn in the very last episode of Spooks, which is fast approaching (Sunday, 23 October, 9pm). He left his role as head of counter-terrorism seven years ago (left), but this final series of Spooks could do with an injection of excitement. It’s been trounced in the ratings by the Beeb’s silly decision to schedule it on Sunday nights against Downton Abbey, traditionally the evening when costumes, not action, rule. And the plots, which are always a bit harebrained, have gone totally haywire, with Harry abducting the man from the CIA. So maybe it is time for him to go off with Ruth and have a rest. Meanwhile, it’ll be interesting to see whether the BBC’s next spy series from Kudos, called Morton, which was announced back in January, will be a decent replacement. This was about a female spy called Sam who is running for her life. The script is by X Files writer Frank Spotnitz. Gillian Anderson as a spy, anyone? It’s all very secret, as you’d expect from this genre. Pic: BBC

• Vicky McClure, who stood out for her performances in This Is England and Five Daughters, has been cast in Line of Duty, a thriller about modern coppering. Alongside her will be Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly), Martin Compston (Sweet Sixteen), Lennie James (The Walking Dead) and Gina McKee (In the Loop). The theme is corruption and the five-hour drama will be shown in 2012.

• It’s great news that Garrow’s Law is returning for a third series this autumn. The idea of dramatising fascinating cases from the Old Bailey records involving the pioneering barrister William Garrow was inspired. Andrew Buchan as Garrow along with Alun Armstrong, Rupert Graves and Lyndsey Marshal have taken us a totally captivating tour back in time to the brutal 18th century, exploring the era’s attitude to slavery, homosexuality and corruption. The last series ended with Garrow wrongly convicted of ‘criminal conversation’ – or having sex with another man’s wife. As revolution sweeps France in series three, attempted regicide, industrial sabotage, election rigging and police intimidation test Garrow anew. For a terrific blog about Garrow and the series, click here.

• ITV has commissioned a period dramatisation of Daphne du Maurier’s The Scapegoat, starring Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) and Eileen Atkins. Rhys will play the double roles of John Standing and Johnny Spence, and Atkins will play his mother. Spence and Standing are very different men with one thing in common – their face. When they meet by chance at a station bar, their lives are changed drastically. Coming from the author of Rebecca, The Birds and Don’t Look Now, this could be a cracker of a film if it has Du Maurier’s trademark levels of suspense and twists. Producer Sarah Beardsall says, ‘The Scapegoat will take viewers on a suspenseful journey with the character of John, from friendless anonymity, to the glamour of the big house, and then to the dark reality behind it.’ Director and adapter Charles Sturridge (Handful of Dust, Shackleton) says, ‘It is a daunting challenge to follow in the footsteps of Hitchcock and Roeg in adapting this thrilling and provocative writer for the screen. I loved the story from the moment I first read it and the extraordinary mix of brilliant characters surrounding these mirror image men.’ Filming starts next month in London.

• Watch out for The Case on weekdays next week during daytime (starts Monday, 31 October, 2.15pm). Tony Powell is accused of murdering his terminally ill partner, Saskia, in this courtroom drama. He claims it was not murder, but assisted suicide. However, a video tape he and Saskia made together is missing. It stars Dean Andrews as Tony (pictured), Caroline Langrishe, Ruthie Henshall and Chanel Cresswell. Pic: BBC

• Finally, a treat on BBC Radio 2 for music and crime lovers. Friday Night Is Music Night on 4 November (8pm) is devoted to crime and police themes. The 70-piece BBC Concert Orchestra will be knocking out themes to Van Der Valk, Kojak, Hawaii 5-O, The Sweeney, The Pink Panther and more.

Law & Order: UK series 5 PREVIEW

Jamie Bamber as DS Devlin tracking a suspect at St Pancras. Pic: (C) ITV Plc

Rating ★★★½

ITV1, from Sunday, 10 July, 9pm

CrimeTimePreview has only been knocking around television’s mean streets for 10 months, but in that time it’s already watched three series of this London-based spin-off from America’s longest-running crime series.

In a month that Sky1 starts showing the 20th and last season of the original Law & Order, ITV1 is hurriedly serving up another helping of its reboot of the winning formula – the last having come our way in March.

With a 20-year backlog to call on, ITV can keep remodelling the stories from the skilfully written US series for quite a while yet. And so long as it has its appealing cast, punchy location shoots and well-adapted dramas that are intriguing and often enticingly ambiguous, the show will be worth a gander.

Dominic Rowan and Peter Davison
New team members Peter Davison and Dominic Rowan
Series five welcomes new faces Peter Davison as new Crown Prosecution chief Henry Sharpe and Dominic Rowan as prosecutor Jake Thorne (Ben Daniels and Bill Paterson having moved on).
Rowan has the beefier role, Thorne being a working-class lad who was sharp enough to become a barrister. He’s also a ladies’ man on the quiet, not that we see much of that side of him in the opening episode.
Where Ben Daniels could be a bit earnest, Rowan is grittier and gets off to a good start in The Wrong Man, in which he feels his way into breaking a conspiracy of silence among hospital staff over a higher-than-usual number of untimely deaths.

Freema Agyeman

Breaking the conspiracy of silence
A young woman, Suzanne, is brought into A&E with flu-like symptons, but dies after treatment. A senior nurse blows the whistle to DI Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter), and DS Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) and DS Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) have a hard time trying to work out whether a crime’s been committed, and if so, was it negligence or malicious.

The best episodes of Law & Order are good at showing how hard it is to get at the truth, and this opener – guest starring James Fox as a distinguished doctor – is murky, with faked medical credentials, an alcoholic doctor and misguided professional loyalties.

Once the detectives establish that Suzanne was given codeine, which it was clear would have fatal consequences when mixed with her medication for depression, Brooks and Devlin have their smoking gun.

Gun rampage and a missing toddler
The one false note is when Rowan in court asks the defendant to empty his pockets. This is a nice coup de theatre, but would it happen in real life? Years of watching courtroom dramas teaches us that lawyers shouldn’t ask questions to which they don’t know the answer. Rowan can’t know what the defendant has in his pockets, so he is perhaps being unrealistically reckless.

James Fox

Quibbles aside, it’s a cracking start to the series, and there’s much to look forward to. The partnership between council estate boy Brooks and the educated, dapper Devlin humanises the stories, and lead writer Emilia di Girolamo says this series will delve into their emotional lives.

This series will also see prosecution team Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) and Thorne struggle to get to the truth behind a missing toddler, a gun rampage and the brutal murder of a much loved couple asleep in their new home. It will finish with a major two-parter that di Girolamo promises will be ‘challenging’ and features ‘stunning performances’ from Bradley Walsh and Jamie Bamber.

Cast: Bradley Walsh DS Ronnie Brooks, Jamie Bamber DS Matt Devlin, Harriet Walter DI Natalie Chandler, Dominic Rowan Jacob Thorne, Freema Agyeman Alesha Phillips, Peter Davison Henry Sharpe, James Fox Dr Edward Austen, Frances Tomelty Sister Logan

Brooks and Devlin


Translating Law & Order: UK for Americans

In the week that Cheryl Cole’s US career crashed owing to nobody being able to translate a word she was uttering, how about this for further evidence of the huge culture chasm between us and the Yanks…

Oh, I say, chaps, by the way, ‘knackers’ are not pants… they’re a gentleman’s dangly bits.

• crime zapper •

  Law & Order: UK signed off with another strong, twisting episode on Thursday. How often do you see a drama in which the heroes cock it up and an innocent victim is murdered as a result? A nurse insisted she was the victim of a mystery stalker who threw her down a flight of stairs. Brooks and Devlin thought she was making it up to get the police to take her fears more seriously. When she was then quickly murdered, and Brooks and Devlin ended up giving conflicting evidence in court, it gave viewers a powerful story of shifting moral standpoints. It’s been a cracking series, and happily ITV has already commissioned another 13 episodes. Of course, it is a tried and tested formula and ITV are just reheating stories from the US original series, but the cast – Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber, Harriet Walter, Ben Daniels and Freema Agyeman – are all good, and the stories are absorbing and pacy.

Just finished Stuart Neville‘s The Twelve – for once, the hype was bang on. ITV or the Beeb should drop their obsession with twee period favourites like Poirot and George Gently. This pulverising novel about a former Belfast hitman seeking to placate and avenge the ghosts of the 12 people he murdered is a genre-busting powerhouse of a book, but with moments of tenderness. If made well, The Twelve would be a headbutt in the face of UK television’s cosy crime scene.

What the hell is Lucas (right) up to in Spooks? It goes without saying that he isn’t the man we thought he was – people rarely are in Section D. But series nine is heading for some showdown between Lucas and his boss, Harry. And knowing what a high casualty rate the show has (Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, David Oyelowo, Rupert Penry-Jones and Hermione Norris, among others, all having been fired or murdered), will it be the end of the line for Richard Armitage (Lucas) or Peter Firth (Harry)? ‘Shocking consequences’ are being promised by the Beeb…

Law & Order: UK, ITV1 PREVIEW

Win some, lose some – the Law & Order: UK team (all pics © ITV)

Rating: ★★★★

ITV1, Thursdays 9pm from 9 Sept

CCTV footage of two children leading a six-year-old boy to his murder offers a clear parallel to the James Bulger case. With it, this third series of Law & Order: UK is back with an explosive opener.

From the first scenes, Broken is an emotionally strong episode. There’s the discovery of the body in a derelict South London flat, the tearful police, and DS Ronnie Brooks’ summation – ‘Just when you think you’ve seen it all…’

On this estate of deprivation, where mums work 12 hours a day, the kids are left to babysit each other. Brooks and his partner, DS Matt Devlin, aided by the CCTV cameras, are soon mortified to realise two older girls may be responsible for the shocking murder.

This harrowing storyline was a brave one for the makers to take on. It is sensitively told while not ducking the harsh, sometimes self-interested choices made by police and lawyers.

‘I want that girl in a hospital, not a prison’ 
There’s the ugly legal horse-trading, the careerist barrister and the whole issue of how the law should deal with child offenders.

And it has the courage to wear its convictions on its sleeve, particularly when the mother of the murdered boy says she doesn’t want the girl who is the main suspect, Rose, to be tried for murder. She wants to know who was really responsible for the girl’s atrocious behaviour.

Then, despite the public lynch mobs, tabloid hysteria and the DPP wanting to nail the girl, the director of the Crown Prosecutors, George Castle, announces, ‘I want that girl in a hospital, not a prison.’

It’s a controversial, powerful opening drama for the series, but one that makes me glad the show’s back. When it was imported from the US in 2009, it received lukewarm reviews, but has averaged around 5.9 million viewers an episode.

The US has grown tired of the original after its 20-year run, the plug being pulled by NBC in May.

But here it has hit its stride. At a time when the shambolic The Bill has had to be locked away, Law & Order: UK‘s snappy, assured storytelling and atmospheric location work makes good viewing. The formula, with each episode split equally between the cops and the prosecutors, is as reliable as an old pair of sturdy handcuffs.

Bradley Walsh and Jamie Bamber
And the cast is engaging, with Bradley Walsh as ex-alky and copper’s copper DS Brooks, and Jamie Bamber as the suave Devlin. Bill Paterson (George Castle), Ben Daniels (senior prosecutor James Steel) and Harriet Walter (very believable as the not-to-be-messed-with DI Chandler) all deliver. Even Doctor Who‘s ex-partner Freema Agyeman just about holds down her brief as Alesha Phillips.

The final key to its success is that the stories are intriguing, ambiguous affairs, rarely tied up in a neat solution – and that’s certainly the case with Broken.

Great scene: when Ben Daniels lays into Rose’s callous mother in the dock

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