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October 13, 2015

Review: 'Law & Order: Los Angeles' Gets a Face-Lift, But Was It Worth It?

by Maureen Ryan, posted Apr 11th 2011 11:15AM
'Law & Order: LA' (Monday, 9PM ET on NBC) has gone through some very public growing pains in its first season. The show was abruptly yanked from the air late last fall, and it soon became apparent that 'L&O' creator Dick Wolf was intent on radically rejiggering the cast and/or stripping the show for parts as he tried to keep some version of the underwhelming drama afloat.

He may well have wanted to just present those changes (which include the departure of Skeet Ulrich and a job change for Alfred Molina's character) as done deals upon the show's return, because the implementation of those changes in Monday's first episode is so clunky, stilted and inelegant that it's like watching a desperate matron get plastic surgery.

The second half of Monday's two-hour return is better, but it's hard to see how things could have gotten much worse. 'Law & Order: LA's' transitional episode is, frankly, difficult to watch.

It seems designed to maximize the opportunities for Molina's Ricardo Morales character to grandstand about government ineptitude and express outrage over the handling of a high-profile case. Any attempt at ambiguity is steamrolled by a contrived plot and a script that allows characters to utter lines like, "Don't you dare lecture me about the law!" Somewhere, Sam Waterston is wincing.

In fairness to Molina, he does an excellent job in Monday's second episode, especially in a long interrogation scene. But nothing about the rearranged 'Law & Order: LA' feels all that fresh or interesting, and it's still an open question as to whether Los Angeles is a viable host organism for this long-running cops-and-lawyers procedural (of all the problems 'L&O: LA' had, I never thought Ulrich was one of them). It may be time for Wolf to consider the idea that this particular transplant just may not be working.

Even if we eliminate Monday's first episode from our minds (and believe me, I've tried), it's not as if the second episode signals the arrival of a potentially classic 'L&O' lineup. Despite a good performance from guest star Tim DeKay, Monday's second episode follows the ups and downs of a fairly standard ripped-from-the-headlines case, and, more importantly, the new ensemble still doesn't feel fully formed.

Molina and Corey Stoll, who plays detective T.J. Jaruszalski, are individually strong actors, but we'll need more time to see where their partnership ranks in the 'L&O' Hall of Fame. And despite the possibilities in that arena, when it comes to the revamped version of the show, the D.A.'s office feels particularly weak.

Terrence Howard has never seemed quite comfortable in the role of deputy district attorney Jonah Dekker, and the unevenness he displayed last fall continues here. It's not exactly reassuring news to hear that Dekker will now be in every episode, instead of every other episode.

Regina Hall and Megan Boone are both gone from 'L&O: LA,' and Alana de la Garza joins the show in Monday's second episode, reprising her role as Connie Rubirosa, a deputy district attorney from the 'L&O' mothership. Despite the presence of a familiar face, however, everything to do with the D.A.'s office feels somewhat forced and unfocused.

Perhaps the show will settle into some kind of groove going forward, but at present, this 'Law & Order' seems like a shadow of its New York incarnation.

Molina talks about the show's return here.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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No one ever in the history of the judicial system that has killed 6 people has been offered a plea of less than life. Who is writing your shows now? I enjoyed Law and Order for many years and I am very disappointed in the allowances of continuous unacceptable story lines. Do you need some educated people to help write your shows? I am not available, but I am sure some poor creature out there could.

Jeffrey Freeman

June 28 2011 at 12:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

really like Stoll, Molina, de la Garza and Coyote. I wish someone would pick them up for another 1/2 season or more but the these actors, I'm sure, have other offers and commitments. I hope to see them in other performances. Haven't seen Stoll in "Midnight in Paris" yet.

June 01 2011 at 2:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with the writer that requsted the original L&O be brought back. I think it was great and am really going to miss it. If they can bright back L&O CI, why can't they bring back the original. Actually I didn't think CI was that great.
Also, didn't care much for LOLA in the being, but like it now. Sorry it got cancelled. Really like Molina.

May 28 2011 at 10:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Whitnell

I watched law and order la enthusiatic for the first 8 episodes, and watched the remainder less so...now I have decided not to follow this show. The story line is weak and the actors that are on are less than desired. I fell asleep watching the last episode. I think this show is suffering the same as royal pains, a show that was exciting the first season and became a bore the second. I choose only to follow dexter and the mentalist....Mark

April 26 2011 at 1:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

In my opinion, I think some casts just don't mesh well, I don't know what it is, but when I heard about certain people being in a show, I just can't get into it. For example, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, do I need to say more? LOLA is starting to grow on me now because it is trying to get better and I see a huge improvement from what it started from. I hear Khloe Kardashian is going to be on an upcoming episode so I'm going to be sure to tune in. Unfortunately, I work when primtetime shows air so I'll just be watching it from my phone using the DISH Remote Access app. I have my Sling Adapter synced with my phone so I can watch live and pre-recorded shows and I don't even have to be at home. There's no restrictions and if the channel is in my package, then I will be able to watch it. When I began working at DISH Network, I had no idea there was this much value and believe me, now that I know about all of the products, I am always recommending that people check out DISH Network and experience a value unseen by any other provider!


April 24 2011 at 8:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Im done watching now that winters is gone...ruined a good show..

April 17 2011 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I live in Los Angeles, and I hate this show. It's NOTHING like LA. I hope it gets canceled.

April 16 2011 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I live in Los Angeles, and I hate this show. It's NOTHING like LA. Everything about it is all wrong. I hope it gets canceled.

April 16 2011 at 11:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was hoping that Skeet Ulrich charactor would be coming back.
I have decided not to watch the show..I thought he was the best
actor on the show... cute too....you ruined the show with his kiss off.

April 15 2011 at 2:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David P. Graf

Please bring back the original Law & Order. LA is just the wrong setting for this kind of show.

April 12 2011 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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