A Law and Order with Andre Braugher can’t be AWFUL, right?

My disdain of Law & Order is fairly strong. I’ve pretty much always disliked the show.You’d probably stumble across a law blog that talks about television and movies and expect a bunch of words written on Law & Order. Probably in a glowing manner. Nah. Not here. Can’t stand the show.

In short, every time I tune in, I catch myself completely annoyed at the cardboard characters that walk around Law & Order scenes. I’m a lawyer, but, I hate Law & Order.

Andre Braugher, on the other hand, is an actor I’ve almost always enjoyed.

When Braugher was on a real TV show, Homicide: Life on the Streets, he was killing it with consistently awesome performances. His role as Detective Frank Pembleton is one of the best TV cops I’ve seen. He dominated the screen so regularly that Braugher and the show decided something along the lines of, “you know what, this is too good that it might get stale, how about the character has a stroke…you know, just so we can see how your character deals with it.” And Braugher went out and continued to put up good scenes on a great show.

So, it somewhat annoyed me to see him pop up in a Law & Order commercial. C’mon man!

Actually, I can’t blame Braugher. The man fires out fantastic performances on a show like Men of a Certain Age and it gets cancelled after two seasons. Law & Order:SVU isn’t getting cancelled any time soon, I’d imagine. Still, it’s Law & Order. And Law & Order is a couple steps down from the dramatic air in which Braugher usually kicks it.

Braugher’s presence was enough to get me to fire up the DVR. It took several weeks for me to actually bring myself to view the episode, but, I finally got it done.

I can’t say this hour of TV did anything to dissuade my notions of Law & Order as a whole. But, it wasn’t the worst bit of television watching I’ve ever done, so, it has that going for it.

The plot is that a music student in the City gets raped at gunpoint and Braugher is the defense attorney for the accused. Braugher is made out to be the bad dude here because he comes in, speaks quickly, ignores a Detective played by Ice T, and then levels some motions. That is just like Law & Order to bring in Braugher to play a Defense Attorney and then have his bread buttered with motion practice and not cross examination of the victim.

They also have this all play out in like two weeks.

Anyway, I think one of the cops was upset at another cop for not having his back on whether the suspect had a gun or not. But, the characters were so bland I’ve forgotten already. Law & Order is a show designed so that you can watch it any time with or without having seen the preceding episodes. To their credit, they accomplish that. By no means do you turn on an episode of Law & Order and feel like you don’t have a clue what is going on.

But, other shows have done that a lot better.

Braugher manages to make it through the hour without a meaningful court scene. He’s a hot shot defense attorney, but, you don’t get that impression through his work, just tepid snide remarks from the police officers involved.

But, he does speak with the main female Detective after Court. Braugher has just won, and the Detective is taking it hard. Braugher comes through for the first time in the hour, speaking to the Detective about what he does as an Attorney and what she does as a Detective. It’s nowhere near groundbreaking stuff, both in delivery or substance, but, it’s Braugher having a moment that moves a scene forward. Rather than speaking for the moment and moving to the next scene in a disjointed manner, as most Law & Order scenes travel.

Braugher is good in moments where he isn’t attempting to do too much. Which is a good thing, as television shows are built on the small scenes that lead to big moments. Braugher of course dominates those big moments as well, but, for a show like Law & Order, someone being able to progress the story forward to make you want to watch the next episode for the characters is something that has always seemed rare. Maybe you want the next episode to see what headline case they try to rip next, but, it isn’t often for the characters on a show like this.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t DVR the other two Braugher Law & Order episodes that came the following weeks. In my defense, I had no idea he was getting a three show arc.

Some other thoughts,

Ice T has been on this TV show for over TEN years. And, to think, he could have spent that time finding someone to produce a sequel to Surviving The Game. He did nothing of note this episode. Other than get ignored by Braugher.

Who makes the decision to have Richard Belzer on the program and have him not crack a joke in 44 minutes of an episode? There was a nice touch when Braugher walked in and asked Belzer’s character if he knows him. Belzer, of course, played Detective Munch on the much better Homicide TV show with Braugher. U

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