Not too long after my brother and I moved out on our own (well, kind of), I decided to sign up for Netflix. Before that I watched Hulu, but I found the free version to be lacking a lot of good programming – although if you dug around you could find a few gems, the quality of the shows on there was generally hit or miss. So I signed up for Netflix, and I found that it is ADDICTIVE. This addiction has fueled a lot of my movie reviews on this blog. I’ve not been watching much in the way of horror or fantasy movies lately, or any movies really. So I thought it might be fun to start doing reviews of television shows in addition to my movie and book reviews.
I often find myself going on binges where I watch one show and one show only until I either finish the series or force myself to slow down. I did that with Hoarders, Hey Arnold!, Friday Night Lights, and Jericho. I’m finding myself doing the same with Law and Order: SVU.
But then can you blame me? SVU is a great show! It follows the Manhattan Special Victims Unit, a department of the New York Police Department dedicated specifically to sex-related offenses. Each episode is a stand-a-lone case, although they do often mention things that happened in previous episodes. Sometimes the plot lines are the famous Law and Order “ripped from the headlines” episodes, where the case in question is a thinly veiled retelling of actual crimes. The most recent (for me anyway – I’m in season 6) of these style episodes involved a killer nicknamed “RDK”, who rape, dismembered, and killed his victims. He’d also leave little clues and riddles for the police to solve, which usually pointed to his next victim. He was a thinly veiled rip-off of the BTK Killer, although of course the particulars were different.
Oftentimes the plot of a given episode will revolve around a political/societal issue. These episodes are usually interesting in that they often reflect what was going on at the time – it’s a neat peek into American society at the time (I’m aware the show is still on but, remember, I’m watching old episodes. The show started in 1999 – things have changed a lot since then, obviously :P). It is during these episodes that the one glaring flaw in the show seems to rear its head though. The detectives will often erupt into soundbites when discussing said cases – one taking one side, the other diametrically opposed. There is just something about it that bothers me – the usually taut writing behind the show seems to weaken at these points, and it can feel like you’re hearing pundits rather than the characters. Although to be fair, the viewpoints each character espouses is consistent with how they’ve been developed up to that point.
Speaking of characters, this show wouldn’t be as awesome as it is without the colorful and interesting cast of characters. The two primary detectives the show follows are Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson. Both are very driven, although for different reasons, and both will do just about anything to solve a case. Often, they’ll go too far and their actions wind up blowing up in their faces. And that is what makes the show awesome – it’s real. They don’t always get the bad guy, and even if they do there have been times he has gotten away on a legal technicality. Even if they do get the bad guy, oftentimes it turns out that nobody really wins.
The characters are well done, the stories are well written, and overall the show is well acted. If you like cop shows and you haven’t seen SVU yet, you definitely should! I’ll probably wind up watching another episode tonight myself, actually :).