“In the criminal justice system the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the District Attorneys who prosecute the offenders …” Law and Order is an example of a bygone day in network television. In the 1990-1991 season this first year program ranked 62nd of all television programs. In addition to its poor performance, NBC lost revenue from countless sponsors pulling their advertisements because of the controversial nature of t…e subject matter. (AIDS, abortion…) The pilot, filmed in 16mm for a gritty documentary style, was deemed not up to broadcast standards. Today any one of these black marks would doom a fledgling program before even one season was finished. NBC showed rare patience and renewed Law and Order. Now there are 3 hours of Law and Order programming each week. It is the longest running drama currently on prime-time. Law and Order has captured one of the largest Emmy collections in TV history. Recently NBC renewed the show for an additional record 5 years.
Detectives Greevey (Dzundza) and Logan (Noth) investigate crimes under Captain Cragen (Florek) Assistant District Attorneys Stone (Moriarity) and Robinette (Brooks) prosecute the cases under New York D. A. Schiff (Hill). Each one-hour episode is broken into two parts. The first half hour follows the police investigation. The remaining time concentrates on the trial.
This set includes a standard TV Dolby 2.0 track. There is good news and bad news here. The good news is the recording on most episodes is pretty sound. Dialogue is out front and music is subtle. Highs and lows while not dynamic are of decent quality. The bad news is there is no consistency. Some episodes are much more solid than others. By disc 5 things seem to have leveled out.
Law and Order: The First Year is a 1990 TV program; therefore it is presented in “full screen” format. Like the sound, some episodes look better than others. The pilot was filmed on 16mm and is very dark and grainy. With all of that said, most episodes are faithfully transferred and look at least as good as they did originally.
There is really only one feature: “The Creation Of Law And Order” is mostly an interview with series creator Dick Wolf. The other so-called feature is a preview or ad for an upcoming PC game based on Law and Order.
I would have really liked to have had at least a couple of episodes feature a commentary track by Wolf or cast members. Universal has really missed a great opportunity to give fans a taste of the history of an historic show.
The menus are simple and easy to navigate. The theme gets annoying if you let it roll too long.
Law and Order: The First Year is very much the same as in 2003 and also dramatically different. The last original cast member left three years ago with Steven Hill. The formula is still very much the same, and that probably explains the longevity more than anything else. The stories are usually so “ripped from the headlines” that the show displays a disclaimer before and after many episodes warning that the story is indeed fictional. Many shows grow weaker over the years as stories become more contrived and the characters too tired. Law and Order has only gotten better. Quality TV. “… These are their stories.”
Special Features List
- “The Creation Of Law And Order”
- Game Preview