In honor of Law & Order's upcoming season 18 premiere, here are some frequently asked questions regarding the crime and punishment behemoth:
Why can't I stop watching every freaking Law & Order episode that's on 24/7 on network and cable?
Because the formula is so comforting. Couple of garbagemen or Central Park joggers stumble over a body. The dicks pop onto the scene and look around. Morbid wisecrack. Opening theme music, commercial. The recurrent theme at every scene change keeps you hypnotized, of course. And you can set your watch by Law shifting into Order.
What is that theme, as expressed phonetically?
Clunk clunk. Chunk chunk? Thunk thunk. I've been trying to figure it out for years. Even the actors can't nail it. I recall seeing a promo on USA where Special Victims Unit's Mariska Hargitay (Olivia) and Chris Meloni (Elliot) tried to recreate it verbally. He really screwed it up, giving it something like a "cha-ching." She was closer, but still no dice.
What's with Vincent D'Onofrio's hands in Law & Order: CI?
His hands are the real star of that show. He's got those spider-like, investigatory fingers. You gotta love watching D'Onofrio scratch and sniff those stiffs. That's entertainment.
Why is Sam Waterston as ADA Jack McCoy such a spaz?
I don't know, but he is. He's one herky-jerky mofo and those prosecutorial eyebrows have a life of their own. I bet Waterston thanks his lucky stars he hooked up with this cash cow. I'd hang on for dear life. (And he is, settling into the DA's chair next year.)
What lines do you hear in every episode of Law & Order?
"The defendant is clearly a flight risk, your honor. The people seek remand."
"This conversation is over." (Suspect's lawyer barging into the middle of an interrogation.)
"Yeah, just ask my ex-wives." (Lenny Briscoe, referring to any number of things.)
"That's fruit from the poisonous tree, your honor." (Defense attorneys angling for exclusions of evidence.)
"Nice try, Mr. McCoy, but I have to agree. The confession is excluded." (Various judges, who all seem a lot wiser than real life.)
What makes you watch an episode you've just seen within the past month, over again?
It's a sickness. You just get sucked in. Especially with Special Victims Unit. All that sexual predator-ing bunched so close together...when it's over you feel sordid and dirty, like you'd done some highly inappropriate boning yourself.
Rank Jack McCoy's female assistant district attorneys in their order of hotness.
1. Angie Harmon: Va va voom!
2. Jill Hennessy: I used to dig her, but you see her now on Crossing Jordan? The woman is completely insane and that show is for shit. It's worse than Cold Case, if that's possible.
3. Elisabeth Rohm: Her character revealed herself to be a lesbian on her exit show, where she was shitcanned by Freddy Thompson. "It's not because I'm a lesbian, is it?" "No." "Good!"
4. Alana de la Garza: Incomplete.
5. Carey Lowell: Eh.
6. Annie Parisse: Eh.
Who lives in Law & Order purgatory/limbo?
Early episode stars Michael Moriarity, Richard Brooks, George Dzundza and Paul Sorvino may as well not have even existed. Those guys are relegated to daytime L&O reruns. The other early bird, Chris Noth, is back with Law and Order: CI, but he looks tired and partied out from his Sex and the City days.
What was with the old guy, Steven Hill, who played Jack McCoy's boss, District Attorney Adam Schiff?
I remember him from back in the '60s, when was the first Mission: Impossible boss whose tape self-destructed at the start of each show. What a stud. He's a great old guy. I love seeing him wince and mutter, "Take a plea." Then pour himself a tall scotch.
Is this Dick Wolf's world and we're just living in it?
I've seen the title card "Created by Dick Wolf" so many times I'm beginning to believe that everything was created by Dick Wolf.
Aren't you kind of pathetic with this stuff?
Yes, but I am comforted in knowing that I am far, far from alone.