Law and Order SVU really began to create an identity for itself in its second year. The addition of Ice T as Finn is one of the best casting decisions Wolf’s made since Jerry Orbach. I would have liked to see the combination of Munch and Finn used more often. Maybe I’m in the minority, but they are so much more interesting than Benson and Stabler. I think the show was bold and more edgy in year two. Part of the problem in year one was the inevitable comparisons to the original. Unlike the CSI franchise, Law and Order has created a unique vision for each of its shows. It’s not just “same stuff, new faces”. Except for location, any story on CSI Miami could be done exactly word for word on CSI: NY or the original. I applaud Law and Order’s attempt to deliver something else. Of course, the subject matter on SVU has far more potential for controversy, and so far the writers have handled the material with care and class. Don’t look for the series to ever reinvent itself within each show. Law and Order is the poster child for formula, but isn’t that what keeps us coming back for more?
Each episode is presented in a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack. Like any cop drama, this is a completely dialogue driven show. You will be more than satisfied with the quality of the dialogue – It’s always clear. Not much music to speak of here.
Each episode is presented in its original broadcast 1.33:1 full frame format. I found the colors to be rather soft and grainy. These characteristics should likely be treated as intentional styling and not a defect of the transfer. Wolf has always opted for the docudrama grainy look. Still, colors are realistic, if at times grungy. Flesh tones are pretty much reference, and darks are adequate. Overall this presentation is better than the original broadcast quality.
Both Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni get 5 minute interviews called profiles on the set. Both actors are incredibly animated. Hargitay is downright giddy most of the time. There’s some kind of construction noises going on during the later part of Meloni’s interview. “Sex Crimes and Storylines” features most of the cast talking about the seriousness of these particular crimes and the effect it has had on them personally. “Fun Set” is a couple of minutes of some behind the scenes horsing around. “Real SVU” Again all of the actors talk about the research they did with real SVU cops to prepare for their parts. There are deleted scenes for many of the episodes found throughout the three double-sided disc set.
At this rate it’s going to take a lot of years and a ton of cash to collect this entire franchise. You’re going to likely have to set some priorities here. TV on DVD is just now making a bigger splash in the rental market. This might be just the kind of show to quicken that trend. The other trouble is that between USA and TNT there is just too much syndicated Law and Order on television. Since the DVDs offer little in the extras department and are not wide screen there might be little reason to spring for so many of these sets. SVU is available in wide screen on Universal’s HD station. So, as much as I like these sets you might be better off recording them in HD. Universal needs to think about adding a little more bang for the buck to make these collections worth having. Going back to single sided DVD’s… so “how are you going to get your fix?”