Law and Order
A while back, while announcing the season premieres for 'Burn Notice' and 'Royal Pains', I briefly mentioned the reason why these original USA network programs, as well as their other offerings, work so well. As I thought about it some more, I realized that it wasn't just the focus on characters and the mix of comedy and drama that made these shows click with audiences. There was more to it. In fact, three more 'its' to make a TV Squad list. How's that for ironic!
So, if you'll indulge me for a moment, here are the five things that make USA network shows resonate with viewers.
1. Actual character-driven shows -- When USA uses the tag line "Characters Welcome" they aren't kidding. Every original program since 'Monk' has been character driven. They haven't relied on special effects, or musicals, or unanswered questions that, when answered, produced more unanswered questions. It's characters that drive the shows and move them forward.
In this instance, Sam Waterston's Jack McCoy will be appearing on an episode of 'Law & Order: SVU.' Now, while Waterston has appeared on the show twice before in his office, this will be the very first time that District Attorney McCoy will show up in the SVU squad room. It will also be the first time that Waterston works with actor Christopher Meloni. It'll be interesting to see how these two characters react to each other.
This "very special episode" of 'Law & Order: SVU' premieres on April 28th with special guest star Sharon Stone.
Here's tonight's TV lineup (all times Eastern). All shows mentioned are new, unless otherwise noted.
8:00 to 9:00
ABC: 'Dancing With the Stars' -- Results show
The CW: '90210'
FOX: 'American Idol' -- 88 minutes long. See below.
NBC: 'The Biggest Loser' -- Two hours
PBS: 'NOVA' -- Focus on the ever-expanding universe
9:00 to 10:00
The CW: 'Melrose Place'
FOX: 'Glee' -- Starts at 9:28. Stupid FOX!
BBC America: 'Survivors'
Discovery: 'Deadliest Catch'
PBS: 'Frontline' -- Profile on President Obama's administration
TLC: '19 Kids and Counting'
10:00 to 11:00
BET: 'Tiny & Toya'
Bravo: 'The Millionaire Matchmaker' -- Season finale
Food Network: 'Chopped'
HBO: 'REAL Sports with Bryan Gumble'
LOGO: 'The Big Gay Sketch Show'
MTV: '16 and Pregnant'
TLC: 'The Little Chocolatiers'
Travel: 'Food Wars'
USA: 'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'
Bravo: '9 by Design' -- series premiere
Check your local TV listings for more information. After the jump, the late-night talk shows.
Cast departures and changes within the 'Law & Order' franchise are are a dime a dozen these days. So much so that most fans tend not to notice when they occur. The exception is when a long-running cast member decides to step down. Fans take notice then because, frankly, there aren't too many more long-running cast members left in the franchise (except the amazingly stable group at 'Special Victims Unit.'
This time the honor goes to S. Epatha Merkerson, who plays Lieutenant Van Buren in the original 'Law & Order'. After 16 years, the actress has decided to leave the series at the end of this season.
The premise of '187 Detroit' is kind of 'The Office' meets 'NYPD Blue' in Michigan. It's a funny take on a Detroit homicide squad if they were to have a documentary crew following them around on cases. Imperioli will be Fitch, the hot-tempered, veteran detective who boasts an impeccable record for closing cases and catching killers.
The gold medal winning American downhill ski champion, one of the darlings of the Vancouver games, appeared with Costas. At the end of the interview, Bob reminded Lindsey that she's the biggest 'Law & Order' fan in the world. Lindsey didn't deny it. She said it was true and the video they showed of her visiting the set and gushing about the show looked very sincere.
Ann-Margret will appear in the same episode. TV Guide says that she'll play a woman who starred in commercials in the 1970s who gets involved in the case that Stabler and Benson are working on. Smith will play a detective involved in the same case. And if that's not enough beautiful TV women for you, what if we add Susan Anton and Morgan Fairchild to the mix? This episode is shaping up to be more 'Diagnosis: Murder' or 'Murder She Wrote' than 'Law & Order: SVU,' but it sounds like fun.
Well, I don't know if any episode of any 'Law & Order' show can be described as "fun," but this sounds like it could come close.
Perhaps that's jumping the gun, but it's still promising to hear that Jaclyn Smith will do a guest turn on 'Law & Order: SVU.' The actress, who'll never be more famous than she was as Kelly Garrett, one of the original 'Charlie's Angels,' gets to appear on the NBC show as a former police officer.
That's pretty ironic, too, because the whole twist about the 'Angels' is that they were frustrated as policewomen and Charlie plucked them out of going-nowhere careers fling papers and writing tickets to make them professional, private detectives in the thick of the action.
Well, after a dozen years pounding the pavement and fighting the good fight as Elliot, Meloni is interested in doing something else with his career. In an interview Down Under with the Australian Courier-Mail, Meloni said, "I think 12 years is enough." Eight is enough, yes, but twelve?
Anyway, Chris goes on to say that he has interest in doing film projects and returning to the theater. As for the future of Elliot on 'Law and Order: SVU,' Meloni believes he's giving the writers plenty of time to work out a satisfactory exit. He said, "The writers will have fertile ground to figure out how to arc [his way] out to another place, whether it's this world or the next."
As NBC entertainment president Jeff Gaspin explained earlier in the week, the slot will contain a combination of reality and scripted shows, and news. The pleasant surprises: Parenthood is slotted at 10 PM ET on Tuesdays, after NBC's hit The Biggest Loser. It starts March 2. Law & Order
On the reality front, Jerry Seinfeld's The Marriage Ref will air at 10 PM ET after the Thursday comedy block, starting March 4 (it sneak previews after the Olympic closing ceremonies on Feb. 28). And on Fridays, a two-hour Dateline will bow at 9, preceded first by the reality series Who Do You Think You Are, starting March 5, then Friday Night Lights on April 30.
Got it? There will be a quiz later.
Yup, the network wants a Los Angeles-based Law & Order from Dick Wolf to add to the franchise. They're calling the new show LOLA, which is probably what we're all going to have to get used to typing since I'm sure this show will be given the green light and we'll be writing about it in the next year or two. Of course, a Law & Order set in Los Angeles sounds a lot like Dragnet. And hey, wasn't Southland set in L.A.?
Soon, all that will be on TV will be different Law and Order, CSI, and NCIS spinoffs and nothing else. Oh and reality show. Lots of reality shows.
Well, now the star will be returning to the crime genre. Sharon will be appearing on NBC's Law and Order SVU later this season.
Stone will be appearing in a four-show arc, playing a former cop who's become a prosecutor, an assistant district attorney. That means instead of answering questions, she'll be asking them.
Bromstad's vow presumably extends to Law and Order SVU, as well, especially since it does better in the ratings. Of course, nothing on the NBC slate is doing particularly well this season with the exception of the National Football League and The Biggest Loser. All the scripted series have struggled in the Nielsens. The Jay Leno Show experiment has been anything but a boon for the prime time schedule, no matter how NBC spins it.
From a meth-making chemistry teacher to a damaged 1960s ad exec, the guys populating the dramatic actor category in our best of the decade are nothing short of brilliant.
It's hard to choose favorites when you're dealing with the likes of Jon Hamm, Bryan Cranston, Mark Harmon, James Gandolfini, and many others, but the TV Squad team has spoken.
Did your favorites make our list? If not, feel free to add them in the comments below.
This week's episode, titled "Anchor," featured a character who kills children birthed by illegal immigrants in America. His attorney, played by John Laroquette, fashions a defense that the TV and radio talking heads who rail against illegal immigrants are responsible for his actions. He even puts one on the stand, played by Bruce McGill, who seems to be channeling a Warner Bros. cartoon version of Lou Dobbs.
The attorney mentions O'Reilly by name, along with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, as a "cancer spreading ignorance and hate." O'Reilly not only ripped Wolf a new one for working him into his show, but also brought in fellow pundit Laura Ingraham who frankly seemed more upset that she wasn't one of the name smeared in the episode like a jilted prom queen who only scores "Miss Congeniality". Well, darling, there's always Criminal Minds.