“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 …” If you haven’t seen Law and Order, this is the set to begin with. Season 3 is most notable as the first year for Jerry Orbach. His 11 years in the role of Briscoe gave this revolving door series the kind of stability it needed. The powers that be at Universal added confusion to the mix when it released season 14 following season 2. I suspect the move was intended to deal with the unfortunate death of Orbach. His final season was obviously a “hot” item. Fortunately it now appears the releases will continue again from the show’s beginning.
Detectives Briscoe (Orbach) 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.
The set includes a standard TV Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. 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.
Law and Order is presented in its original 1.33:1 full frame broadcast format. The picture shows marked improvement over the grainy and dark look of the first and mostly second years. Still, there is a bit of grain, particularly under low light conditions. Colors are mostly realistic and neither stand out nor appear diminished in quality.
Universal has once again changed the packaging for the series. This set comes in a box of thin cases. While I find the slim cases an improvement over the cardboard fold-out design, I still dislike the more fragile double-sided discs. I’m also disappointed that a booklet is not included for the first time.
The features are mostly an homage to the late Jerry Orbach. A moving tribute examines his work on Law and Order and some insights into his life. The actor was an accomplished song and dance man long before the Wolf (Dick Wolf) was at his door. Also included is the standard Law and Order profile also dedicated to Orbach.
Law and Order is suffering with the loss of Jerry Orbach. The ratings are now lower than they’ve been in nearly a decade. NBC is struggling with decreased revenue from the show. Like the speculation brought about in the Star Trek universe after the failure of its latest incarnation, there is reason to believe the fans are fatigued with the franchise. It is my hope that this falloff of fans doesn’t translate to a discontinuation of the DVD sets. These Orbach years are truly Law and Order’s glory years and cry out to be preserved on our DVD shelves. If you own no other set, make this the one you buy. It will hook you in for 11 years of this once innovative program. Once again… “These are their stories”.