When I lived in an outer borough of New York City in another era, my then roommate introduced me to the original Law & Order television show. At that point it had been airing on network television for years, and that run would continue for years more. We were mostly catching reruns in syndication, and I've since spottily maintained that tradition as rebroadcasting rights have flitted from TNT to WeTV and even BBC (America). After a dozen years with no new episodes -- not counting spin-off series -- I experienced a pang of unexpected delight when I learned the show was resuming. Not being much of a streamer, I embraced a return to appointment television. Even if that obligation lived only in my imagination, I tuned in last Thursday night.
There it was: a murder ripped from the headlines, albeit dusty ones. The partner detectives sorting out suspects and intertwining a few tidbits of their own character development, terse exchanges around race, questionable ethics in interrogation rooms. Then, law gave way to order, ushering in the staff from the district attorney's office to "prosecute the offenders." A bit more strife in the handling and mishandling of the case, a pivotal cameo from a past cast member, the grey-white shadow over the proceedings cast by Jack McCoy from the wings. And, finally, a verdict, a few minutes past the expected one-hour runtime; the title institutions doing their thing despite signs of crumbling at their foundations.
I've read commentary about the present as a time of "peak TV," with its surfeit of binge-able prestige projects, and I've missed a bunch of alleged must-sees. But last week, I got the peek I was after, from a vantage of nostalgia, edged with a few new twists.