Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Fun With Geography On "Law And Order"

"If that's her address she's living in the middle of the East River."

Heard on a rerun of "Law And Order SVU."

I'm not a regular viewer of Law and Order or its 14 spinoffs, due more to TV fatigue than anger over production crews clogging Manhattan streets at any given moment.

One thing that did always bug me about the shows is address fiction. Every time they go to a new scene and show the address on the screen, it's often for an address that's not only doesn't exist, but if you go by how streets are numbered in the city, if it did exist would be in some body of water, which is actually pretty easy to do in Manhattan (860 West 118th St?).

You'd think they'd get some hapless production assistant to scout locations to ensure a building sounds real, but no. It's easier just to have some co-op floating on the Hudson. Whether the "SVU" writers on the rerun I caught last night on USA used this as an inside joke albeit one that's a little tacky given it centered on a girl nearly beaten to death, I don't know. But such is life -- and near-death -- when your show is done in New York and your writers are sunning themselves in LA.

Watching "SVU" also made me realize how much I missed "Homicide: Life On The Street." Richard Belzer's character John Munch on the latter seamlessly transferred to the former with a tad fewer wisecracks and a slightly softer shell.

For a "Homicide" homey, it was quite a revelation to see him choke up when answering why he pushed so hard on this case. He recounted seeing a neighborhood girl beat up and he did nothing. One day her mother threw her through a plate-glass window.

"I felt like I was letting her down again," the Belz tells a bewildered Mariska Hargitay. The episode closes with him reading to the latest victim, still comatose in the hospital. Therapy, perhaps, and a quality TV moment, though I'm sure John Munch I would have joked his way around the angst.

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