Law & Order | EW.com

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Law & Order NBC's Law & Order is in its 15th year and is ye old reliable of crime shows. This season introduces a new detective, played by that...Law & OrderCrime, Drama10/30/1990 NBC's Law & Order is in its 15th year and is ye old reliable of crime shows. This season introduces a new detective, played by that...2004-10-14Richard BelzerRichard BrooksJill HennessyLeslie HendrixCarey LowellFred ThompsonDianne Wiest
Dennis Farina, Law & Order

(Law and Order: Jessica Burstein)

B+

Law & Order

Genre: Crime, Drama; Lead Performer: Alana De La Garza, Dennis Farina, Milena Govich, Jesse L. Martin, Jerry Orbach, Elisabeth Rohm, S Epatha Merkerson, Sam Waterston; Performers: Richard Belzer, Richard Brooks, Jill Hennessy, Leslie Hendrix, Carey Lowell, Fred Thompson, Dianne Wiest; Guest Performer: Adam Arkin, Christine Baranski, Tom Berenger, Eric Bogosian, Andre Braugher, Dominic Chianese, Chris Cooper, Lindsay Crouse, Claire Danes, Keith David, Guillermo Diaz, Taye Diggs, Edie Falco, Janeane Garofalo, Rudolph Giuliani, Lauren Graham, Mary Beth Hurt, Ice-T, Michael Imperioli, Samuel L. Jackson, Allison Janney, James Earl Jones, Jane Kaczmarek, Catherine Kellner, Laura Linney, Patti LuPone, William H. Macy, Julianna Margulies, Heather Matarazzo, Michael McKean, Chris Noth, Vincent Pastore, Amanda Peet, Faith Prince, Ron Rifkin, Julia Roberts, Sam Rockwell, Peter Sarsgaard, Frances Sternhagen, Jerry Stiller, Elaine Stritch, Aida Turturro, Robert Vaughn; Run Dates: 10/30/1990; Broadcaster: NBC; Status: In Season

NBC’s Law & Order is in its 15th year and is ye old reliable of crime shows. This season introduces a new detective, played by that other old reliable, Dennis Farina, replacing the other old reliable, Jerry Orbach. Orbach (who’ll head up a third L&O spin-off, Law & Order: Trial by Jury) will be missed. His rumpled Lennie Briscoe was the most genuine of detectives. In a way, Farina’s Joe Fontana is the anti-Briscoe — the guy has a cock-of-the-walk manner and clothes to match — and he’s a nice punch to the series.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual: Detective Green (Jesse L. Martin) is still calm and cool; Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) is still indignant; that wry, redheaded coroner (Leslie Hendrix) is still, after 13 years, speaking about three lines an episode; and Serena Southerlyn is, courtesy of Elisabeth Rohm, still pretty wooden. (The actress is leaving midseason; may we suggest Nip/Tuck’s wonderfully bitchy sexaholic Jessalyn Gilsig as a replacement?)

Still humming along, L&O has become the ultimate comfort show: Every week it offers a new crime cut, dried, and shelved, making the series a handy, self-contained alternative to all the serial dramas with their demanding mythologies. Guest stars like Ron Silver and Candice Bergen are so familiar they hardly register as stunt casting. L&O even goes so far as to spell out both sides of any issue — the war in Iraq or the nasty economics of drug companies — in bite-size parcels, so you don’t have to think too hard.

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