The Light from the TV Shows: TV Comfort Food for Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving Eve ’round Bullz-Eye HQ as I write this piece, which means that anyone here who’s still working wants to be doing it about as little as I do. In fact, the biggest reason I’ve waited this long into the evening to get moving on the piece is because I’ve spent way too much of my day watching a marathon of a certain series on the USA Network…which brings me to the premise of this week’s column. Lord knows it’s become a small-screen staple for networks to offer programming which provides the one-two punch of 1) allowing the employees of these networks to do as little work as possible, and 2) inspiring all those TV viewers with Tryptophan surging through their veins to set down their remotes and bask in as many episodes of their favorite show as their holiday weekend downtime will allow.

Now you’re wondering what marathons you can catch this weekend, right? Well, there are a few good ones out there, to be sure:

Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America (Travel Channel, 9am-3pm Thursday)
ALF (The Hub, 3pm Thursday – 3am Friday)
The Andy Griffith Show (TV Land 4pm-9pm Thursday & Friday)
Behind the Music (VH1, 2pm-10pm Friday)
Beverly Hills, 90210 (SOAPNet, 8pm Friday – 1am Saturday)
Breaking Amish (TLC, 11am-9pm Saturday)
Castle (TNT, 10am-11pm Thursday)
Chef Race: UK vs. US (BBC America, 8am-5pm Sunday)
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The Light from the TV Shows: The Current State of “Law & Order”

Is it me, or does it feel inherently wrong that there’s only one “Law & Order” series on the air at the moment?

I’m not saying that it hasn’t been completely and totally warranted to make fun of how many members of the franchise there have been over the years. In addition to the so-called mothership, “Law & Order,” you’ve had “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” and “Law & Order: Los Angeles.” Oh, and lest we forget, there was also “Conviction,” which – although it didn’t feature the words “Law & Order” in front of its title, was a spin-off featuring the character of Alexandra Cabot (Stephanie March) as a Bureau Chief Executive ADA supervising the newest crop of ADAs.

I admit it: that’s a hell of a lot of “Law & Order.” But, dammit, I like “Law & Order.” Even if I’ve never liked the various spin-offs quite as much as the mothership, all of the series still served as TV comfort food, each just different enough from the other to make me happy. All things being equal, I can’t complain that the one “L&O” series left is “SVU,” as that’s the one that’s often been on the verge of overtaking the original series as my favorite, but now that there’s no Stabler, even “SVU” feels…dare I say it?…a little unstable.

Thank heavens, then, that the series has decided to delve into its universe of characters and bring back one from the mothership: Michael Cutter, played by Linus Roache. The relationship between Roache and Sam Waterson on the original series was great, but in his return to the franchise, we’re now going to see Cutter standing on his own, getting to be the big shot this time around. Also turning up on the series is another actor who recently his full-time gig go under: Andre Braugher, late of “Men of a Certain Age.” If you’re a real diehard “L&O” fan, you may remember that Braugher once turned up on the original series, but…well, I’ll let him remind you about it.

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