Law and Order: SVU Season 5

Law And Order

Law and Order: SVU Season 5 is the opening of the first Law & Order spin off, Special Victims Unit, and it does sum up the more adult nature of the Law & Order series

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"In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories." This is the opening of the first Law & Order spin off; Special Victims Unit and it does sum up the more adult nature of this series. No one would doubt that sexual crimes, especially against children are the worse possible of any offence. This show follows the detectives and prosecutors that bring this lowest form of life to justice. Because of the nature of the crimes depicted here the emotions are much higher and raw than the regular Law & Order. This greater intensity is perfect, fertile ground for the writers and cast to create some of the best drama on television today.

Special Victims Unit focuses on a group of detectives working out of a Manhattan precinct; they catch the cases involving not only sexual abuse but those that are perpetrated against children as well. This broadens the possible themes explored in the series while allowing it to remain on the cutting edge. In this Law and Order: SVU Season 5 DVD set the plot lines cover everything from the forced medication of over active children to a man that attacks his wife only to have arrested for drinking while pregnant. Even more brutal themes as torture, rape and ritualistic killing are all fair game here while almost every other show on regular broadcast television would be reticent to explore.

In all cases presented in this Law and Order series such subject matter is handled with a combination of taste and talent, again, something very rare for most of what we see on the tube. Like the original Law & Order some of the stories are ‘ripped from the headlines’ such as the entertainer that is accused of pedophilia but apparently has paid off the parents of the young victim.

Even the best writing is only as good as the actors that portray the characters. Fortunately for us, the audience, Dick Wolf once again manages to provide us with top notch talent for Law and Order. The two leads are Mariska Hargitay as detective Olivia Benson and her partner Elliot Stabler played to a tee by Christopher Meloni. Each actor gets to bring some emotional depth to the people they portray, for example Benson relates to the victim since she herself was conceived by rape. Stabler as the father of three daughters and a son has a difficult time not bringing the job home, every young victim is a reflection of his own children. Meloni is one of a growing number of alumni from the HBO series OZ to find their way to the Law and Order Universe. The actor who plays the FBI psychiatrist George Huang is played by B.D. Wong and occasional cross over shrink from Law & Order, J.K. Simmons was also an Oz regular. Cross over casting is the rule not the exception for Law and Order. Former stand up comedian Richard Belzer reprises his role from the late, great series Homicide, as Detective John Much. The boss of the squad has a long history with Dick Wolf shows. Dann Florek started his role in Law and Order as Captain Donald Creagan as an Internal Affairs investigator in the original series, then took the same character as the boss of that squad and now heads up SVU.

I enjoy little touches like this that reflect reality; people do change jobs or positions during the course of their careers. The last cop in Law and Order: SVU Season 5 is Odafin 'Fin' Tutuola, brilliantly played by former rapper Ice T. Ironically he burst on to the national scene with his song ‘Cop Killer’ and now has made a nice acting career playing police officers. On the legal side of the cast Law and Order: SVU Season 5 was a transition year. ADA Alex Cabot (Stephanie March) is replaced by Diane Neal as ADA Casey Novak. This offered the writers an opportunity to show just how difficult these cases can be for a lawyer new to the field. There is one almost unsung character that pops up in every variation of Law & Order, Leslie Hendrix. While not known by most you would recognize her in a moment. She plays the medical examiner Doctor Liz Rogers, always being pressed by the detectives for a time and cause of death.

By season five the elements of the Law and Order series have had enough time to really blend together. There has been sufficient time for the back stories to simmer allowing the actors something they can really wrap a performance around. Finn came in as the tough ex-narcotics under cover cop but in Law and Order: SVU Season 5 softer more human aspects of his persona begin to emerge. Stabler is watching his oldest daughter mature to young womanhood yet he is afraid, he knows too well what kinds or perverts there are out there. He meets every father’s nightmare on an almost daily basis. It is these back stories that help us identify with these characters in Law and Order, we understand them and can connect with them on a visceral level. Law and Order is television that can involve the viewer, not just something that we sit in front of staring at the screen to pass the time.

As with the other recent batch of Universal full season sets Law and Order: SVU Season 5 is excellent. The video quality is excellent, presented in flawless full screen. The audio is well balanced; there is good separation between the right and left channel of the Dolby stereo mix. The dialogue is never over whelmed. Even the famous ‘doink-doink’ Law & Order sound resounds through the speakers. If seems that Universal is committed to giving something interesting as extras for there Law and Order season sets. Here there are little profiles of three of the actors referred to as Police Sketches. Included for this treatment are Ice T, B.D. Wong and Dan Florek. There is even a little Law and Order Special Victims alumni featurette to round things off.

In a very unconventional move Universal is releasing the Law & Order series with the most current season of each all at once. While most series are released in chronological order Universal is putting all the most recent Law and Order seasons out at the same time. This is actually a great way for the uninitiated to get up to speed with all three of these excellent Law and Order series.

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