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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