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> Description 
The show follows a small team of New York City detectives who investigate a serious crime, usually murder. Generally, about halfway through the hour-long program the focus shifts from the investigation of the crime to the prosecution of the offender, which is always handed over to the same small team of lawyers from the Manhattan District Attorney's office. The two-tiered format of the program is almost identical to a 1960s series entitled Arrest and Trial, although the similarities are considered to be coincidental.

The series has a number of distinctive stylistic touches. The show is shot on location in New York, New York and is known for its extensive use of local color - NYC Mayors Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg have appeared on the show in recent seasons. The cold open usually shows a slice of New York life unrelated to the main story until the characters in the scene suddenly discover, witness, or become victims of a crime. The scene immediately cuts to the police making a prelimary examination of the crime scene in which the featured detectives make their first observations and theories then make a witty comment before the title sequence begins. Many scenes are preceded with a card indicating the location and date of the events portrayed. Perhaps best known is the musical sting which accompanies scene changes. It has been described as a "dun DUN" sound.

The show's cast of police and lawyers are portrayed as basically honest professionals, very rarely straying from the boundaries of accepted procedure and usually solving crimes by hard slog and attention to detail rather than hunches and personal whimsy. Their private lives are rarely mentioned, and usually only in passing or if they intrude on their work. Perhaps the scenes involving lawyers stray from reality a little more, with a far higher proportion of cases going to trial than in real life (although plea bargaining plays a far greater role than in other series), trial lawyers acting as pseudo-detectives. In contrast to detective shows of the 1950s such as Perry Mason, the protagonists of the program do not always win their cases, and many programs have resolutions in which the case against the offender is won, but justice is still not fully served.

Most Law & Order episodes are self-contained, with only a few exceptions over the many years of production.

Many of the storylines on the show have been widely regarded as thinly-disguised fictionalizations of recent real criminal cases that have been reported in the news media. Some of these episodes are promoted as being “ripped from the headlines.”

Law & Order is noted for its revolving cast: none of the original actors still appear in the series, and many have stayed for a few seasons before moving on. This continual replacing of actors has not appeared to harm the program's popularity. In fact, it has been speculated that this is one of the reasons which contributed to the series' long run. Also, the regular appearance of new faces in the cast has continually changed the show's dynamic, allowing it to effectively reinvent itself repeatedly. The four long-serving exceptions are Steven Hill (1990–2000) as District Attorney Adam Schiff, S. Epatha Merkerson (1993–present) as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, Sam Waterston (1994–present) as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy, and the late Jerry Orbach (1992–2004) as Detective Lennie Briscoe, the show's longest-serving actor to date.

It is widely believed that the Adam Schiff character was based on real life New York County District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau who still serves in the post, aged 85.

The show's most recent cast changes were announced in 2004 when longtime performer Orbach left the series at the end of Season 14 to star in the spinoff, Law & Order: Trial by Jury. Orbach died shortly after producing the first two episodes after a long battle with prostate cancer. Dennis Farina joined the cast as Detective Joe Fontana in L&O. In addition, Elisabeth Röhm, who played Assistant District Attorney Serena Southerlyn for three and a half years, left the series midway through the 2004-2005 season; her successor is Annie Parisse, who plays ADA Alexandra Borgia. In May 2005, Jesse L. Martin, who plays Detective Ed Green, took time off from the show to film the theatrical version of Rent (reprising his role from the Broadway musical of the same name). Soprano star Michael Imperioli, playing Detective Nick Falco, came in to finish the last four episodes of the season, although Martin is still part of the cast and will return for the 16th season.

As of 2005, the show runs little to no risk of cancellation in the near future, barring a drop in ratings, leading to speculation that it may reach the record for longest-running American prime time drama, currently held by Gunsmoke (1955-1975).

Show Description Credit: Wikipedia
 
> Airing History & Information 
Premiere September 30, 1990
Episodes 349
Network NBC
Format/Time Color / 60 Minutes
Country United States
Upcoming Airs Not currently airing
 
> Cast 
Angie Harmon....   Abbie Carmichael ((1998-2001))
Steven Hill....   Adam Schiff ((1990-2000))
Annie Parisse....   Alexandra Borgia ((2005-))
S. Epatha Merkerson....   Anita Van Buren ((1993-))
Fred Dalton Thompson....   Arthur Branch ((2002-))
Michael Moriarty....   Ben Stone ((1990-1994))
Jill Hennessy....   Claire Kincaid ((1993-1996))
Jerry Orbach....   Detective Briscoe (1992-2004)
Dann Florek....   Don Cragen ((1990-1993))
Jesse L. Martin....   Ed Green ((1999-))
Carey Lowell....   Jamie Ross ((1996-1998))
Dennis Farina....   Joe Fontana ((2004-))
Sam Waterston....   John James "Jack" McCoy (1994-)
George Dzundza....   Max Greevey ((1990-1991))
Chris Noth....   Mike Logan ((1990-1995))
Michael Imperioli....   Nick Falco ((2005))
Dianne Wiest....   Nora Lewin ((2000-2002))
Richard Brooks....   Paul Robinette ((1990-1993))
Paul Sorvino....   Phil Cerreta ((1991-1992))
Benjamin Bratt....   Reynaldo Curtis (1995-1999)
Elizabeth Rohm....   Serena Southerlyn ((2001-2005))

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> News (News Archive) (Post a News Story)
‘Law & Order’ creator expects more series
(Posted July 26, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. - "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf said he was jolted by NBC's cancellation of the fourth installment of his crime drama franchise, but is looking forwa ... [More Information]

Source: MSNBC
 

[More News]
 
> DVD Releases & Reviews
Season 14 (Universal Home Video)
(September 14, 2004) Buy It (USA) (Canada)
 


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