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Law & Order: The First Year (1990) – DVD Review

Law and Order: The First Year DVD


Created by Dick Wolf
Starring George Dzundza, Michael Moriarty, Chris Noth, Richard Brooks, Dann Florek, Steven Hill


  • The Creation of Law and Order with creator Wolf
  • Law and Order: Dead on the Money game trailer
  • All twenty-two first season episodes

Released by: Universal
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: A must-own for the fan.

[ad#longpost]It goes like this: there’s a criminal justice system, see? And there’s two sides to what goes on within it, two groups of people who are working to keep your ass from getting robbed or killed. You have the police who catch the bad guys and then the district attorney’s office who prosecute the bad guy. Of course, in real life, the bad guy goes to prison, has better cable, living arrangements and access to education than most college students in this country, and can usually get off early especially if the perp has done something as harmless as rape or aggravated assault. But I digress.

This is the first season of the show that is currently slated to keep running through 2005 (!) and has gone on to create both two successful spinoffs and a place for actors to find work in New York City. It’s controversial, it’s engaging, and it follows a pretty basic formula. Two detectives (Dzundza and Noth) go out and investigate…well, anything, really–the detectives on L&O seem to be able to have no boundaries when it comes to the cases they tackle. They do so under the watchful eye of their captain (Florek). They work with the D.A.’s office and a couple of A.D.A.s there (Moriarty and Brooks) to get the perps put away. The D.A. (Hill) is always around for some acerbic comments as necessary.

And the damn thing works. It’s all about the case. Only if you’ve seen multiple episodes, normally over the course of multiple seasons, will you begin to get a feel for what goes on with these characters when they’re not at work. Because, mainly, it doesn’t matter. That’s not what you’re there for. However, it’s not like the cast isn’t given anything to do. They’re doing it and in spades. If I had to name standouts it would be Moriarty’s rolling thunder in the courtroom and Noth’s quick to anger cop.

Like most full-season boxed sets, the extras are skimpy. The only real one is the Creation of featurette, although I must say it’s pretty informative. Coming in late to the whole L&O addiction game as I have, you might not be aware that although the series was extremely popular, advertisers kept pulling their spots from the show due to the consistently controversial episodes.

And this is true: the series has never been one to shy away from “ripping stories from the headlines,” although somehow they manage to do so in a way that never makes the viewer want to gag his or herself with a pool cue. The trailer for the video game is only notable for how startling well the actors from the series have their faces recreated on a game character–so much so that the pixellated rest of their bodies are shudderingly wrong.

The true question is whether or not anybody would want to buy this: I mean, let’s face it–it’s hard to turn on a television, if you have cable, and not find yourself staring down an episode of one version of this show. You can literally watch five episodes a day without even trying. But still, for posterity’s sake, the fan of the show will want to have this set on their shelf. Anybody else should either rent or–like I said–turn on a TV.