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The Same Show, Only Now the Headlines Are Ripped from TMZ

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 30, 2010 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | September 30, 2010 |

Over the last 20 years, the original “Law & Order” has worked a comfortable groove into a formula that worked for the series longer than any other. I’m not entirely sure why it fell apart or what it was about the original “Law & Order” show that warranted its cancellation other than simple viewer fatigue. Presumably, the “L&O” faithful had seen every lawsuit iteration that could be conceived, and maybe the rotating cast had grown stale. It was like a marriage that had fallen into a monotonous rut, and the weak attempts to spice things up in the bedroom over the years had failed to reignite the spark.

So, what did they do? They relocated to Los Angeles, where the bodies are more fit, the weather is nicer, and the plastic surgery is more pervasive. But it’s still the same show. The faces are different — less weathered, slightly more cheery — but it’s the same comfortable formula, only now it takes place in Los Angeles. But, if you’re a “Law & Order”-phile, the change of scenery is welcome, the sort of thing that can probably reignite interest in the series for another year or so before we fall back into the “L&O” funk. It’s fun to see different faces do the same thing, and Los Angeles opens up a few new possibilities where it concerns murder victims. The first episode, for instance, tracked a believable worst case scenario for Lindsay Lohan-type and her mother (Diana? Della? Dingo?), where the Mom basically exploits the daughter’s fame for her own financial gain, a scam that results in the murder of the mother’s boyfriend/co-conspirator.

But to return to the marriage analogy, it’s not a huge change. You’re still making love to the same person, you’ve just found a couple new positions, you’ve trimmed up a bit, and you’re talking a little dirtier. It’s still two cops (Skeet Ulrich, who hasn’t aged well, though it works here, and Carey Stoll), two deputy district attorneys (Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard, who will be splitting the role, and each will work with another DDA partner), a district attorney (Peter Coyote), and the terrible Los Angelesization of the theme song. Teri Polo, who was not in the first episode, is also in the cast as Skeet Ulrich’s wife, so my assumption is that this series will play a little in the personal lives of the characters, but I wouldn’t expect much of that. It’s outside of the dry, impersonal “Law & Order” comfort zone, and I prefer it that way.

If you’re not into the original “Law & Order,” there’s not much reason to believe you’d care for “L&O: Los Angeles.” But, if you just got bored with the old iteration, the relocation could reignite your passion to a certain degree. It’s not appointment viewing, but if you don’t have anything loaded in your DVR, it’s self-contained, it is the best option in its time slot, and it looks to make for decent Saturday afternoon marathons three years from now on TNT. Bonus: The “Law & Order” franchise probably employs more actors than any other show on television, and now that it’s moved to Los Angeles, it’s only a matter of time before we feature our top five screen grabs from Brian Prisco’s episode of “L&O.” He’d make a great murder victim.