Friday, February 18, 2005

Our Long National Nightmare Is Over

Of course I'm talking about Elisabeth Rohm's departure from Law & Order.

Law & Order is perfect episodic television. You can tune in whenever you want; there are no continuing plot lines to keep up with. The writing is fairly smart and the acting is generally top shelf. Few episodes go by without my being dazzled by a 30-second walk-on performance by some New York stage actor playing a building superintendent or a jilted girlfriend. If you want to see quality acting on a regular basis, Law & Order has been the place to go for 15 years.

So you can imagine how difficult the last four years have been with the wooden, super-ennunciating Rohm (when you catch here on the TNT re-runs, listen to her "t"'s) riding shotgun with Sam Waterston, the finest working actor on network television. There have been moments when Rohm's inert obliviousness have been so maddening that I was sure Waterston was going to beat her to death with his eyebrows.

But then Rohm suddenly departed a few weeks ago in a blaze of sapphic idiocy. Her replacement is soapster Annie Parisse, whom I'm warming to already.

So in celebration, I invite readers (and Skinner) to send their nominations for the Law & Order All-Star Squad. I'm thinking of regular cast members, but if you have a special defense attorney or recurring guest star, nominate them, too. To get things started, here's my starting dream team:

Dianne Wiest
Sam Waterston
Angie Harmon

and

S. Epatha Merkerson
Dennis Farina
George Dzundza

Let the festivities begin. As Jar-Jar Binks would say, Weesa free!

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Surely you jest. No one can possibly compile a "best cast" list for Law & Order that does not include Jerry Orbach. It is is simply impossible. He was the best, God rest his soul.

So:

Jerry Orbach
Benjamin Bratt
S. Epatha Merkson

Sam Waterston
Angie Harmon
Fred Thompson

Bizarro Jack said...

Jerry Orbach, no questions, hands down. He makes the beginning half of the show, and Jack McCoy makes the latter. I do miss Steven Hill/Adam Schiff, and also the dude who was on before Waterston was also quite good.

While we're on the subject, Check this Law & Order based art exhibit out. In fact, check out his whole site. It's too awesome for words.

http://www.brandonbird.com/artisticintent.html

Anonymous said...

It has to be:
Adam Schiff (Steven Hill)
Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston)
Jamie Ross (Carey Lowell)

Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach)
Rey Curtis (Ben Bratt)
Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson)

With Emil Skoda (J.K. Simmons) on the couch and Danielle Melnick (Tovah Feldshuh) across the aisle.

Anonymous said...

So glad someone finally said it. Rohn was unwatchable.

Also warming to the new ADA, but clearly the best McCoy sidekick ever was Angie Harmon. The combination of a 5-pack-a-day voice and relentless quest to punish the bad guys, and maybe even some of the good ones, was irresistable.

Angie was so tough that the following is not an implausible Angie Scenario:

Van Buren: "But Abbie, he's just a kid. And a paraplegic! For God's sake, he's in a wheelchair!"

Carmichael/Harmon: "So what? His arms work just fine. Nothing wrong with that trigger finger. BOOK HIM."

Gotta love Angie.

-SL

Duane said...

I suggest an all female cast, a sort of Law & Order meets Baywatch:

Jill Hennessy - Claire Kincaid
Angie Harmon - Abbie Carmichael
Carey Lowell - Jamie Ross

Elisabeth Rohm - No speaking parts
Annie Parisse - Alexandra Borgia
Carolyn McCormick - Dr. Olivet

Anonymous said...

Sam Waterston may be a better actor, but I personally think Michael Moriarty was better suited for the role, so:

Steven Hill
Michael Moriarty
Angie Harmon

Dann Florek
Jerry Orbach
Chris Noth

Anonymous said...

By the way, of course, the paraplegic shooter in question could be no more than 8 or 9 years old. Angie would try and find a death penalty loophole, though. You know. FOR the death penalty.

-SL

Anonymous said...

Man, tough one. I'd go with:

LawJill Hennessy (so, so, so hot in a buttoned-up sort of way, not so much any more on Crossing Jordan)

Michael Moriarity (Waterson's good, but go back and watch the old ones; Moriarity was pretty subtle, although he did have that one gaping-trout expression)

Steven Hill ('nuff said.)

OrderChris Noth (was the soul of the show for so long)

Jerry Orbach (took up when Noth left, although Paul Sorvino & George Dzundza shouldn't be quickly overlooked)

Sally Merkerson (coin flip between her and Dann Florek; both are perfect harassed civil servants)

J.K. Simmons as Dr. Emil Skoda in a squeaker over the beautiful Carolyn McCormick, because he was entertainingly cynical where she was earnest.

And, please, let's not forget John Fiore as Profacci. He was there from the pilot!

On the subject of the pulchritude of female lawyers, Angie "Baywatch Lawyer" Harmon never did as much for me as Hennessy or even Carey Lowell, especially if Carey Lowell wasn't looking particularly wall-eyed at any given moment.

Also, tchüß to Elizabeth Röhm, who came by her umlaut honestly. Not to slander the woman, but does anyone know if she's related to Ernst Röhm, of SA infamy?

--BW

Anonymous said...

Brandon Bird's A Night Away is the best art ever produced.

Don't forget Leslie Hendrix as M.E. Rodgers, and the great sexual tension between her and Briscoe.

Anonymous said...

Sam Waterston

Steven Hill - Meetings with Adam are the high point of the hour

Jerry Ohrbach

I don't get S. Epatha Merkerson at all. It's probably not her fault. I think the scriptwriters do her a disservice. The cops come in to her with the evidence, and she gives orders that no self-respecting cop would not have thought of already: "Did you talk to the widow?" "See what you can find out about the gun found in the victim's hand." Sheesh.

And, any show that has Larry Miller as a guest goes up half a star in the rankings.

alison said...

this is not a question. there is one and only one cast.

law: orbach and noth (did we see his ressurection in criminal intent? still sporting the american flag lapel pin and the second hand brown leather 3/4 coat?)

order: waterston and hennessy (and yes i've read from the source there was an affair going on).

there was no better group. i'd take moriarty with few guest appearences.

what i'd like to know is who the hell wrote rohm's last line "is this because i'm lesbian?" um, no it's beacuse you're a bad actor.

Anonymous said...

Orbach as Briscoe
Noth as Logan
Merkerson as Van Buren

Moriarty as Stone
Harmon as Carmichael
Steven Hill as Schiff (Fred Thompson? Are you nuts?)

Defendant: Zeljko Ivanek as Philip Swann from "American Dream" in Season 4 (ripped-from-the-headlines of "Billionaire Boys Club" guru Joe Hunt.)

Ralphie said...

Orbach collars perp
Sam, Angie prosecute him
S. Epatha nods

Anonymous said...

Law:
Michael Moriarty
Angie Harmon
Fred Thompson

Order:
Chris Noth
Jerry Orbach (any list that omits Orbach is a travesty. On a show that has had a dozen or so lineups, Orbach was a rock and easily the most recognizable character in the show's history)
S Epatha Merkeson

I would have gone with Florek had his character not re-appeared in the formerly strong L&O SVU. Speaking of SVU, Chris Meloni is now the only compelling character from any of the L&O shows now. Waterson now just goes through the motions week to week and Orbach is gone. Meloni is often the moral voice for the L&O shows, empathizing with characters who commit crimes we have often thought of committing, ruthlessly tracking down criminals who commit crimes against children, and occassionally crossing the line during interrogations of the most heinous offenders. Also, Meloni's character on Oz is one of TVs greatest characters. Keller was a badass.

SiliconValleySteve said...

Michael Moriarty owned the role as Ben Stone.

Not a great actor otherwise but unbelievable as Stone. Waterston has always been disappointment in comparison.

growler said...

I would like to point out the reason for Moriarty being essential: He was every bit as bizarre and insane and D'Onofrio is on "L&O Criminal Intent."

Dr. Zarkov said...

Dick Wolf sometimes drives me nuts with some of the things he does with this addictive show. (Don't get me started on that awful Homicide/L&A crossover). Casting models with no discernible acting ability as the DA's No. 2 is one that has always rubbed me the wrong way. For me Harmon was no less annoying than the last placeholder. But let's face it; the role is basically thankless, like being Dr. Who's traveling companion.

Yes, I too weep for the languishing talent of S. Epatha Merkson, but she seems to be satisfied earning that fat paycheck so that she can do theater. And please don't forget poor Jamey Sheridan, another superb actor who deserves his own show and is wasted on L&A:CI.

My wife and I were shocked, too at the thumb-in-the-eye Lesbian revelation, but I think Wolf did that as a clumsy setup for her to return later for a guest shot as a defense attorney for some Gay rights group.

Sign that You Watch Too Much TV:

Me following the Lesbian line broadcast: "I hate it when Dick Wolf does things like that after all his years producing smart TV shows."

My Wife: "Yes, I know what you mean. I remember watching his NYPD Blue when I lived in New York."

Me: "No, dear, that was Stephen Bochco."

My Wife: "It can't be! I remember him tearing that page out of his typewriter at the end of each show."

Me: No, dear. That was Stephen Cannell."

Anonymous said...

Law:
Jerry Orbach (the soul of the show for so long)

Chris Noth (by far the best of the younger men)

S. Epatha Merkerson (because over the years she has made the role of the thankless lieutenant her own in a way Florek wasn't given the opportunity)

Order:

Sam Waterston (a tough pick, but Jack's beaten-down hoarseness beats Ben's rather eccentric "Sir!")

Jill Hennessy (Everyone else has seemed like an excuse for a beautiful woman, even if talented. Truth to tell, I kinda miss "flattop" Richard Brooks.)

Steven Hill (There is no other D.A. Hill made his character utterly believable. Wiest was good, most acceptable because we understood she was a stand-in for whomever came next. Thompson is ridiculous. NYC would NEVER elect a southern bubba who embodies the exclamation, "harrumph!")

When Orbach retired I hoped against hope that Noth would return to be the "older" detective. Farina's good, and Noth is okay on "CI," but Mike Logan belongs back in the 27.

Anonymous said...

Law:
Jerry Orbach (the soul of the show for so long)

Chris Noth (by far the best of the younger men)

S. Epatha Merkerson (because over the years she has made the role of the thankless lieutenant her own in a way Florek wasn't given the opportunity)

Order:

Sam Waterston (a tough pick, but Jack's beaten-down hoarseness beats Ben's rather eccentric "Sir!")

Jill Hennessy (Everyone else has seemed like an excuse for a beautiful woman, even if talented. Truth to tell, I kinda miss "flattop" Richard Brooks.)

Steven Hill (There is no other D.A. Hill made his character utterly believable. Wiest was good, most acceptable because we understood she was a stand-in for whomever came next. Thompson is ridiculous. NYC would NEVER elect a southern bubba who embodies the exclamation, "harrumph!")

When Orbach retired I hoped against hope that Noth would return to be the "older" detective. Farina's good, and Noth is okay on "CI," but Mike Logan belongs back in the 27.

Anonymous said...

So sorry about the double post. I thought something wasn't working. It was.

Anonymous said...

Does S. Epatha Merkeson do anything other than eat and drink? What is the point of her?

Anonymous said...

The BEST TEAM:

Law: Jerry Orbach and Benjamin Bratt: they had incredible chemistry, the banter was fantastic, Benjamin Bratt really held his own and got BETTER and better as he went along: the best best best team (and I really liked Chris Noth, but Benjamin Bratt was better)! Also S. Epatha Markson who can hold her own even though I also liked Dan Florek.

Order: Sam Waterston and Jill Hennessey hands down. She had subtlety, humour, beauty everything. He is marginally better than Moriarity who was a bit of a pain in the butt. And of couurse Stephen Hill, hands down as against Fred Thompson who is a clown. I also liked Dianne Weiss, she grew on me.