Friday, November 5, 2010

Law & Order Los Angeles: a surprisingly good TV show

I have a confession to make:  I finally watched "Law and Order Los Angeles" solely for the purpose of seeing how bad it is, so that I could dismiss it as being a superficial, sad resurrection of the original "Law and Order" (New York).

I only know four of the actors' names: Peter Coyote, Alfred Molina, Skeet Ulrich, and Terrence Howard.  Howard was the reason I gave the show a look: I am still stunned by his Oscar-worthy performance in "Crash" as the black husband forced to seethe passively in helpless anger while a white cop gropes his wife.  Crash also forced me to reevaluate Matt Dillon ("Hey!  He can act!") 

As for Ulrich, I decided that he's Robert Ulrich's son, until I remembered that his name was Urich, and not Ulrich.  Whoops.

Enough silliness.  Each episode that I have seen of Law and Order Los Angeles leaves me thinking, "Well, they can't top that.  Now they've shot their screenwriting wad.  They'll never write another episode this good."  Then the following week proves me wrong.  The stories are smart, but not overly-clever; and the acting is intense, but not over-done. 

The thing that I like best about the show is that several of the characters are morally ambiguous--and these are the good guys.  It's like they dragged Tolstoy out of the grave, and told him to write a cop show.  Peter Coyote is the perfect choice for the politically ambitious District Attorney who makes no pretense of caring about the people of Los Angeles County.  His weekly battles with Howard--who keeps forcing him against his wishes to do the right thing--make the show.

As for Howard--wow, what can I say.  I keep waiting for him to either break down in tears, or punch Peter Coyote in the nose.

NBC needs to offer the writers of this show a lot of money to stay on.  I don't want this show to be good the first year, and then sink when they hire less expensive replacements for Season Two.

1 comment:

dwesley said...

Skeet Ulrich is also known as the "poor man's Johnny Depp."