Law And Order: Season 3

Law And Order: Season 3

Law And Order: Season 3 created by Dick Wolf has become one of the longest lasting television dramas

Law And Order: Season 3

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It can be extremely risky to try to combine two genres in a single television series. The results are typically neither genre is given the proper attention and the series fails.

On notable and extremely successful exception to this rule is the brilliant Law & Order franchise. This series created by Dick Wolf has become one of the longest lasting television dramas, combining police and court room story lines. Another television rule of thumb this series has broken is the adage that once the original cast is changed the series dies. Throughout the long one the entire cast has rotated out but the series continues to thrive. Season three, now on DVD was a transitional year for Law and Order. Sgt. Phil Cerreta (Paul Sorvino) is shot during a case and takes a desk job, off the streets. His partner Detective Mike Logan (Chris Noth) has to learn to deal with his new partner, the far more laid back Detective Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach). This was also the last season for squad commander Captain Donald Cragan (Dann Florek) and Assistant District Attorney Paulo Robinette (Richard Brooks). This switching the cast around served the series very well. It not only kept the show fresh but it better reflected life in a major city’s police department and district attorney’s office. In reality people change jobs, especial in jobs involved with law enforcement. People retire, get promoted or just change jobs. While some of the changes where not explained for several seasons they came across as part of the natural order of things.

Another part of the formula that made this series work so well is the ‘ripped from the headlines’ stories. None of the plots are so close to real events to cause the lawyers at NBC any worries but anyone that reads the papers will recognize them immediately. In one episode presented in this third season box set the infamous Navy ‘Tail Hook’ scandal serves as the basis for the action. A young female office is raped and killed leaving Cerreta and Logan at odds with the naval investigators. For those with sharp eyes there are some notable guest stars here. Look for stage actor Len Cariou and ER’s Julianna Margulies in featured parts. Speaker of guest stars this series was the training ground for many actors that have gone on to bigger things. In the first episode of the third season Claire Danes is featured. The producer’s use of talented actors in even the smallest roles just demonstrates the commitment to quality this series provided.

Law And Order: Season 3 also focused on some of the conflicts that occur between the two halves of the justice system, the police and the lawyers. In one episode Cerreta and Executive Assistant District Attorney Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty) find themselves on opposite sides concerning a case of a store owner killing a man. Naturally the storekeeper claims self defense with the officer can understand but Stone sees a more criminal act. This season was well enough alone to allow the writers more freedom in scripts like this, displaying two sides of an issue, both supported by the ‘good guys’.

In another episode of Law And Order: Season 3 the police ad DA’s office close ranks to help someone they consider one of their own. Doctor Elizabeth Olivett, a psychologist often used by the DA is raped by her gynecologist. The problem comes in when it is discovered that she taped the event and the defense claims that she was acting as an agent of the government. Little technical twists in the law are well used in Law And Order: Season 3. While the law is adhered to justice is not always served.

Law And Order: Season 3 sported an excellent cast. This was still in the all male phase of the Law And Order series before actresses would take their place as regulars. During these early days of Law And Order Chris Noth was considered the soul of the show. He connects well with the adoring female audience members; after all he was Mister Big in Sex in the City. He also had the guy next door look that helped the males in the audience see him as a regular Joe that they could have a beer with and watch a game. In some ways it was a shame that Paul Sorvino felt it necessary to leave Law And Order. He has always been one of my favorite actors, able to play a police officer with the same flair as a mob boss. He always comes across as cultured and in control. Still, life and Law And Order go on and his replacement came to be one of the standard bearers of Law And Order, Jerry Orbach. When he took over mid-season the writers address the problems that Logan would naturally have with any officer sent to replace his friend and mentor. Orbach gave us a Lenny that was seasoned, a man committed to being a police officer. Yet, he was not perfect. He saw nothing wrong with taking a free meal or cup of coffee. Biscoe came from a time where a pass on a restaurant check was a matter of respect not a bribe.

When Dann Florek and Richard Brooks left after Law And Order: Season 3 they would not just disappear. Florek reprised his role as Don Cregan in the spin off Law And Order: Special Victims Unit while Brooks would once again return as Robinette in a later season. Dick Wolf is an extremely loyal producer. He is constantly hiring from the same pool of New York based actors. He realizes that the talent is what matters. He also respects the audience enough to give us credit that we can accept the same actor in different roles. He sees talent in the guest stars or bit players and often winds up offering them regular characters in recognition of their abilities. Wolf is a born and bred New York City inhabitant and it shows. He has a love for the City (also the city of my birth) and he is not ashamed to show it. New York City is more than a backdrop for the action; the city is an active character, a constant participant.

Universal has taken a novel approach to presenting this ground breaking series on DVD. After releasing the first two season box sets of Law And Order they jumped to the release of the most recent season. Now, they have returned to pick up where they left off with the release of Law And Order: Season 3. While this was done for marketing reasons it is good to realize that they have not abandoned the fans of Law And Order and are paying attention to the earlier episodes. The technical quality of the DVD is up to the excellent standards of Universal television box sets. The audio is crisp and clear, the famous ‘thonk-thunk’ will boom throughout your living room. The video is also well balanced showing every detail. Even though this series is constantly in syndication Law And Order: Season 3 is well worth having in your collection.

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