Thursday, August 30, 2007

My 'Law & Order' Addiction Now Officially A "Problem"


Why was Jamie always such a wet blanket, anyway?

One of my more embarrassing celebrity encounters occurred a few years ago while I was covering the premiere of M. Knight Shymalan's The Village for the New York Observer. Jesse L. Martin from Law & Order was standing next to me at the after-party and caught me staring at him. I lost it. I began gushing, "Oh my god, I just love Law & Order! It's my favorite show! I watch the three back-to-back episodes every night on TNT!"

He gave me this pitying look and said, "Wow. You must have a lot of time on your hands." Then he walked away.

After that incident, I went cold turkey and stopped watching the series. Even the Law & Order characters thought I was a tool for being so obsessed. I quickly turned my attention to Lost. But then Lost started to suck hugetime and Grey’s Anatomy went on hiatus so I fell off the wagon. They say that a habit becomes a full-blown addiction once it starts to interfere with the way you live your life. I wouldn’t say that it interferes with my life, but that’s only because I’m too busy watching Law & Order to talk to you right now.

I won’t even delve into the brilliance of the program: A Republican show rendered through a Democratic prism, where not getting into the characters’ back stories only makes you love them more.

On weekend nights, I can put away as many as seven episodes. During the week it’s two or three. Sometimes I'll just listen to an episode while I'm getting ready for work. I've found myself lying to friends about my plans. "Tonight? Sorry, I'm having dinner with a friend!" So what if that friend is Sam Waterston and he doesn’t even know that we’re friends?

My television is my dealer, TIVO is my enabler, allowing me to record episodes to watch whenever I want (which is all the time). I recently came back from a trip to Philly to find that there had been a double marathon in my absence and I went on an L&O binge and didn’t leave my apartment for days.

At this point, I know exactly when the ominous "they're about to find the body" music is going to start. I can anticipate the court objections and motions before they’re even filed. “Well, that confession will get thrown out,” I chuckle knowingly to myself. I’m fairly confident I could try and win any case you threw my way with damages.

After awhile, I ran out of episodes and I had to branch out into the spinoffs. I soon tired of Vincent D'Onofrio's histrionics on L&O: Criminal Intent and concentrated instead upon L&O: Special Victims Unit. I have no idea how Dick Wolf managed to get the "How about a show about rape, sodomy and child molestation?" pitch past NBC brass, but it totally works. There’s no one I’d rather have question me about my handsy uncle than Detectives Benson and Stabler.

Plus the writing is always fresh. There are only so many places you can touch a child (and I would know!), yet they still manage to surprise. The episode where they "killed off" ADA Alex Cabot but then it turned out she was just in the witness protection program? Never saw that coming. Then again, I also managed to miss the entire subplot that ADA Serena Sutherland was a lesbian.

I wonder if every time they usher in a hot new assistant district attorney, Sam Waterston thinks, “I’m too old for this shit,” or do you think he enjoys the variety? Why do the ADAs always leave? Angie Harmon, Stephanie March, Elizabeth Rohm. They never go on to do anything else. You’d think they’d learn by now.

And gaysian actor B.D. Wong! I love how his name is also Wong on the series (well, it’s technically spelled “Huang” on the show but it’s pronounced the same.). It's like they looked at him and said, “Yeah, let's be honest, nobody will believe his last name is ‘Chung.’”

Oh, but I’ve said too much. Way, way too much. The defense rests. I swear, at some point I’m going to find a real hobby. I have a lot of time on my hands, you know.

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