I used to be a big fan of LAW & ORDER, but over the last five years, the show has been going steadily down-hill (even with the addition of Dennis Farina, who I have liked ever since MANHUNTER and CRIME STORY). The 2006-2007 season was an all-time low. The last thing I expected was to fall back in love with it, especially after this seasons flat premiere. But each episode since then has been dramatic, surprising, compelling…and even funny.
I don’t know whether it’s the return of Rene Balcer as showrunner/head writer, or the new cast members, or the revamped sets & lighting & camera angles that have re-energized the franchise, but it doesn’t really matter. LAW & ORDER is back and as good as it ever was.
Oddly enough GUNSMOKE, the only show that’s lasted longer than LAW & ORDER, also had a resurgence in quality in it’s 17th-19th seasons…though that’s not to say LAW & ORDER is on its way out.
(LAW & ORDER may someday match, or beat, GUNSMOKE’s 20 year reign….but it’s not a fair contest. There’s nobody on the cast of L&O today that was on the show it’s first season. By comparison, three of the GUNSMOKE’s four stars… James Arness, Amanda Blake and Milburn Stone… stayed with it for 19 seasons, Arness and Stone to the very end. By that measure, GUNSMOKE will always have L&O beat.)