Law and Order: The Third Year DVD

Film:
DVD:

Created by Dick Wolf
Starring Jerry Orbach, Chris Noth, Paul Sorvino, Dann Florek, Michael Moriarty, Richard Brooks, and Steven Hill

Features:

  • All twenty-two third season episodes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • A Tribute to Jerry Orbach
  • Jerry Orbach profile

Released by: Universal
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; presented in its original 1.33:1 format

My Advice: Own it if you’re a fan; rent if you need to catch up.

Law & Order is arguably one of the very best-loved series to grace the small screen. It’s spawned a number of spinoffs and has logged so many screen hours that you literally can’t turn on a television and not smack into an episode of some flavor of the franchise somewhere. This, the flagship show, as always, deals with a half and half approach. The first half you get the police trying to unravel a crime and then the D.A. office takes up the second half of the show to prosecute. Sound formulaic? It is. But the good news is that the acting, the writing and the pace make up for anything you might feel shaky about for the setup.

The third season is a landmark year. Jerry Orbach joins the cast as detective Lenny Briscoe in the middle of the season, partnering with Detective Logan (Noth) after Ceretta (Sorvino) is injured in the line of duty. The rest of the cast returns: A.D.A.s Stone (Moriarty) and Robinette (Brooks), Capt. Cragen (Florek), and D.A. Adam Schiff (Hill). And if the regular cast isn’t enough for you, there are also guest stars, including Claire Danes, Adam Arkin and Ron Rifkin, and recurring appearances by other noted actors like Needcoffee fave Tovah Feldshuh.

The season is energetic–while Sorvino was no slouch, the chemistry between Noth and Orbach when Briscoe hits the scene is fresh and sardonic. This also marks the last season with the characters of both A.D.A Robinette and Capt. Cragen (though Florek will return later to reprise the role for SVU). The episodes tackle issues ranging from prejudices of gays and deaf people with cochlear implants to Nazi war criminals and animal rights activists.

For the extras, you get deleted scenes from six episodes, which are interesting enough– they add just a little bit of insight to what’s already there, and for hardcore fans like myself (who’ve probably seen every episode thrice over), it’s always nice to watch something you haven’t seen yet. The two Jerry Orbach featurettes are a nice tribute to such revered man. In the Tribute, other cast members, past and present, talk about him and what he contributed to the show, as well as showing clips from the show. Apparently there was a lot of tension between some of the other actors on the set when he joined the show, and Noth and Florek talk about how his presence helped smooth things out after a rocky first two seasons. Other cast members talk about iconic he was to the theatre world and how much he will be missed. They even have folks from Trial By Jury on board to talk about the short time they had with him.

The Jerry Orbach profile has clips of him as Det. Briscoe, as well as an interview with the man himself and more behind-the-scenes footage. He talks about the evolution of the series, the importance of the story and filming in New York, and the dynamics of Briscoe with his different partners over the years. These two bits are small, yes, but they’re a nice tribute to an incredible actor who we miss a lot.

The set is nice–the cases are slim, and the discs double-sided which makes it more compact. And while the features are not outstanding, they are a nice addition to an outstanding season. Even if you’ve seen all of the episodes, the stories about Jerry Orbach alone make the set worth watching, and if you’re a hardcore fan, you’ll definitely want to own this set. Even a bad episode of Law & Order is better than most television that’s out these days.