May 26, 2010
Series finale of a show I don't watch anymore: Law & Order
"Law & Order" is one of my favorite shows of all time, but I stopped watching it during Dennis Farina's first season. Maybe it's that there wasn't much point watching the show without Jerry Orbach, maybe it's that you can watch reruns of the older, better ones pretty much whenever you want.
But I did see the series finale, or, actually, the last episode they happened to produce which was never intended to be the last one ever, but that's the way it goes.
It was an uncharacteristically action-packed episode, featuring a shootout with a rampaging public school teacher in a school library, with kids getting shot and everything. You can watch that scene here, though the episode's very last sequence was even better.
Lt. Van Buren (above) is in the midst of a cancer scare, and at a party at a bar the other cops throw to raise money for her, she gets a call from her doctor with test results. We only see the back of her head while she listens and reacts emotionally to what she hears over the phone, and it's an incredibly tense, moving moment. It's not until she sighs and says "thank you thank you!" that we know she got good news.
S. Epatha Merkerson had already given her notice, so even if the show had another season, this was it for her. "Law & Order" hardly ever goes into the private lives of its characters, but the rare personal moments like this are amazingly understated and subtle. This scene was one of the best quietly emotional moments I've ever seen on the show, and I'm kind of happy that, of all the big, dramatic TV finales lately, it was this one that got me a little teary.
There's a rumor that NBC will go for at least another few episodes or a 2-hour movie to close the series out properly. Considering that they're making the boneheaded move of canceling this 20-season show in order to create a new L&O in LA (for crying out loud!) they clearly have some money they could use for the original instead. If this really was it for "Law & Order", I like that it ended its long run by slipping quietly out the back door.
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