We recently saw the return of Detective Elliot Stabler in his own Law & Order spin-off. I have mixed feelings about the return. I’m interested in watching the franchise try to tell a different kind of serialized story rather than the villain of the week model, but I’m also pretty disgusted with the handling of Kathy Stabler’s death and the repeated refrain of other cops talking about how Elliot “goes too far” as though this show intends to make any kind of statement about police brutality when we know it’s just a cover for Elliot to continue to go too far. However, while watching the first episode I spotted a familiar face from another crime procedural and wondered briefly if we’d get a full crossover similar to Richard Belzer’s character from Homicide: Life on the Street showing up on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Alas, it was not to be. But let’s think through the possibilities of having Tamara Taylor reprise her role as Camille Saroyan on Law & Order: Organized Crime!
Camille Saroyan was a forensic pathologist from New York when she showed up in the second season of Bones, so the character has a history in New York. When we meet Taylor’s character in Law & Order: OC she’s working as a professor in one of the fake universities that serve as settings in the Law & Order universe. Perfect! It’s very easy to see how someone who ran the forensics lab at the fake Jeffersonian Institute* would go on to become a professor! And Elliot coming into contact with someone with her background would give an easy way for the show to set her up as a recurring character who consulted with the police. But no, she’s playing a completely different character who was married to Dylan McDermott’s weird criminal character and blah. Even that could be explained that she needed to leave New York suddenly to avoid her ex because he’s a bad guy. There were definitely ways to make this work and I am not surprised they didn’t (why would Dick Wolf remind us of procedurals that were not created by Dick Wolf at this point in his career?) but I can be slightly disappointed in the missed opportunity.
That’s not the only missed opportunity for the currently nonexistent Bones-verse in recent memory. Michaela Conlin was in Eric André’s Bad Trip playing the owner of an art gallery and yet NOT playing the character of Angela Montenegro-Hodgins, who was an artist. Of course, perhaps not everyone has a spot of fondness for such a spectacularly graphic, tonally odd procedural that ran for 12 years from 2005 to 2017 and yet left little impression on the television landscape. The less said about the attempted spin-off, The Finder, the better.
*As an actual DC resident there were many things about the DC depicted in Bones that made me cringe, and the name “Jeffersonian” was top of that list.
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