‘Law & Order’ Is Back After A Decade Long Absence, With Storylines Reflecting Changes In Policing And Prosecuting

It’s all about the audience, say the stars of the series. And they seem to be right given that rabid fans of Law & Order apparently spoke loud enough to get the series rebooted.

This fan loyalty is what made it a bit confusing when the popular show was unceremoniously and surprising canceled eleven years ago while in its 20th season. The series ran for 456 episodes garnering critical acclaim and earning 53 Emmy award nominations during its run, including winning for Best Drama Series in 1997.

For the few folks who don’t know, the series is set in New York City with each episode following the investigation of a crime by NYPD detectives and the prosecution of a defendant by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Now, the mothership in the L&O brand is back, with some original cast members as well as some new additions to the team. Returning to their previous roles are Sam Waterston as District Attorney Jack McCoy and Anthony Anderson as Detective Kevin Bernard.

Waterston says that L&O is back because of the persistence and determination of series creator Dick Wolf, saying that Wolf had complete conviction that, “it was a terrible mistake to stop in the first place.”

And, he adds, “The other reason that we’re coming back, I think, is because we stopped making the shows, but the audience never stopped watching them. So, the audience’s persistent appetite for Law & Order is why we’re back.”

Joining Waterston and Anderson, are Jeffrey Donovan as Detective Frank Cosgrove, Camryn Manheim as Lieutenant Kate Dixon, and Hugh Dancy and Odelya Halevi as Assistant District Attorneys.

Wolf gave a little history of the show, saying, “In 1990, [head of NBC] Brandon Tartikoff had a belief in the viability of Law & Order. When Sam Waterston joined the show in 1994, the ratings grew, and the show earned the Emmy Award in 1997. For the next 16 years, Sam was the face of the show. As you know, we were abruptly cancelled in 2010 and [have been off the air for] 11 years.”

He goes on to say that, “It was my dream that one day the show would return. The talks, which [have been] ongoing for the past seven years, heated up in 2020. My first call was to Sam, who graciously agreed to return, and I called Rick Eid, who has a long history with me and is the ideal showrunner. So, not only did my dream come true, I have my dream cast: Sam, Anthony, Hugh, Jeffrey, Camryn and Odelya.

Anderson says that he felt like no time had passed as he stepped back into his role, saying, “And returning to the streets of New York, returning to our sound stages and that squad room and donning Badge No. 1901 was just like sitting in a well‑worn saddle. It gripped you just right and was comfortable. So, it was fairly easy for me.”

For Dancy, coming onto the show was about, “figuring out how this amazing engine works and why.”

Israeli born Halevia says that getting her role on the series, “feels like a dream, because [as] a kid growing up in a foreign country, I’ve been watching the show with my mom and I said, ‘Oh, Mom. I want to be like her. I want to be a lawyer,’ so years later I find myself [as] the ADA on this show that I used to watch every day.”

But it’s Donovan who believes that, “I am actually the biggest fan of this show. I’ve watched almost every episode. I watched it when I was a college student at NYU in the ’90s, and my dream was always to be a guest star on it and now I’m walking on the hallowed grounds of the squad room.”

For Manheim, she explains that, “Well, you know, my first job out of NYU was on Law & Order 30 years ago, [and] I came back as three different characters on [on the show] through the years. So, this is a huge full circle for me to come back and play Kate Dixon.”

Giving a bit of insight about the new series, Manheim offers, “I do want to say that everything has been updated except for the precinct. I mean, the phones are still from, you know, Edison’s time. I just can’t wait for the viewers to see it because we really are bringing back the same precinct, the same courts, the same amazing show with contemporary and really fascinating storylines.”

Speaking of those storylines, L&O is famous for crafting fictional narratives inspired by often polarizing real life stories, an aspect that will continue, says Wolf. “As always, we will be ripping crimes from the headlines while also reflecting the zeitgeist of present-day America.”

Falling under that umbrella are the issues with policing and the justice system that have been called into question by much of society lately.

“The way people police is a lot different now than it was ten years ago, even two years ago,” explains Eid. “I think the same goes with the District Attorney’s office — the way people prosecute cases and try cases is a lot different. They’re aware of certain things they weren’t aware of before. 2022 is a unique moment in time and our stories and our characters reflect what’s happening in society.”

Now that the series referred to as the ‘mothership’ of the franchise has returned, and is anchoring an all Law & Order night, with SVU and Organized Crime airing just after the original, interaction between the characters within the universe could occur, says Eid. “Crossovers have been very successful in the Dick Wolf universe. They’re a fan favorite. So, there’s a chance there will be a three‑part or a two‑part Law & Order crossover somewhere along the way. Anything is possible in this universe.”

Waterston says that he thinks, “one of the appeals of Law & Order is that no matter what you do for a living, this is what work feels like. It’s not, ‘How are you doing?’ and ‘Did you meet a cool person at the bar last night?’ and ‘How is the baby?’ It’s ‘Here’s the job. Let’s go. There’s a lot to do, and you have to answer this, that now, and you need to be in a meeting 20 minutes ago.’ It’s like that. It’s the nature of work.”

Anderson jumps in to add, “I also think the magic of the show is that you [can] pick up this show at any given moment, at any given time no matter where you are, and still be invested.”

And for the perfect summary, especially for this particularly straight forward procedural, he simply states, “[This show is] about the crime. It’s about solving it. It’s about bringing law and order to the world.”

‘Law & Order’ returns to NBC on Thursday, February 24th, at 8 e/p.   

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/anneeaston/2022/02/22/law–order-is-back-after-a-decade-long-absence-with-storylines-reflecting-changes-in-policing-and-prosecuting/