'Law and Order, Los Angeles' recap: Swimming in the shallow end
In case anyone was still confused or in denial that "Law and Order" had left Gotham and headed west to the promised land of milk, honey and perpetual sun, the Wolf and his pack seemed determined to use the first episode of their reincarnated juggernaut of a show to announce its arrival in Los Angeles.
I just wish they had been a bit less clichéd about it.
I mean, come on. Off all the headlines to rip, the first ones you choose are Lindsay Lohan and the Bling Ring crew? Was an hour on the intoxicating allure of fame and the sad, ultimately empty lives of celebrities really the best they could do for their foray into Los Angeles? And, if they were determined to go that route, did the Wolf pack need to sell it with whiny, ditzy blonds obsessed with couture T-shirts, throw-away references to drug-snorting actors, scripted reality shows and paparazzi?
Maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe this is the only smart, surefire way to ease the housewives of Nebraska into the weird little culture bubble we have out here. But I thought we might actually get some of the grit, ugliness and evocative darkness I think I remember the show cultivating back east.
Instead, I felt like we got a dramatic reading of an issue of US Weekly. Feh.
Was I missing something or was there a real absence of any character worth rooting for or caring about in this episode? Lindsay Lohan, eh, Chelsea? No. Her cougarific, psycho mom? No. The wannabe-actor-cum-burglar who got plugged? Please. I felt something that approached sympathy for the dead kid’s father until he opened his mouth and insulted blue-collar America with his ignorance and naïveté.
(Side note, what’s the over-under on how long it takes the real Lohan camp to issue an indignant retort to the show and threaten legal action? It’s all so meta, it hurts my head.)
As a result, I wasn’t enticed by the sleuthing Rex Winters and his partner, TJ Jaruszalski, had to do, or the legal jujitsu between Morales and the defense attorney. (By the way, what was up with the gusto with which the defense attorney would check things off on his notepad during cross-examination?)
On a positive note, I liked Ulrich playing Rex, Stoll playing his partner and Molina as Morales. If they get some real cases to work, I think they could be fun to watch.
I am not L.A.’s greatest defender, but one thing it does great -– better than NYC -– is crime. Crime out here is weird. Crime out here is gory. Crime in L.A. is fascinating. A day doesn’t pass when a decomposing body isn’t uncovered at the landfill, mummified baby fetuses are found in a locked trunk, a serial killer is nabbed or police shoot a gangbanger wielding an AK-47 (all actual events of the last few months).
Here’s hoping the Wolf pack picks some better headlines to rip in coming weeks.
-- Joel Rubin
Photo: Skeet Ulrich as Det. Rex Winters. Credit: NBC