As USA unfurls another "Law & Order: SVU" Tuesday, it occurs to me that this network actually doesn't air enough "Law & Order".
I'm not kidding.
Pretty much every time I am not watching something I Tivoed, I am wishing that SVU or CI* was on**. A lot of the time, I luck out. Too often, however, I am left out in the cold, jonesing for some Stabler and Olivia crime-fighting action, or lately some weird Goldblum-being-Goldblum detecting.
*I am going to drop the formality of putting SVU and CI or any other television series in quotes for the rest of this post. Let me assure you that I know they're supposed to be in quotes, but I would rather write a couple long sentences preemptively detailing why I'm dropping the quotation mark charade for a post than actually hit "Shift - Apostrophe" multiple times.
**This being largely because Frasier is not in HD and not on an HD channel, and I've seen every episode of House, many of them multiple times. Those are my other syndication mainstays.
There are so many reasons to love these shows, which is certainly an odd description for two shows that focus on rape, murder, and sexual abuse, but I guess I'm an odd dude.
For starters, it seems like there is at least one great guest star in every episode. Right now, Ellen Burstyn is playing Stabler's bipolar mom. In the last episode, we got a de facto Sports Night reunion of Dan Rydell and Rebecca Wells as Josh Charles and Teri Polo guested as a strained couple who were parents of potential child molester. I can't think of a single member of the cast of The Wire* who hasn't been on an episode. Yesterday, Namond Brice (I know, his real name is Julito McCullum) was a bespectacled bully on an episode of CI. Luke Perry and Julie Bowen were on an episode earlier as a married couple, who... wait for it... wait for it... got married after (unbeknownst to her) her raped her. Oh, and Dylan McKay totally raped Darlene Conner in that episode, too. What a crazy fucking world we live in!
*(Anyone who has not seen Season One of The Wire should not read this italicized paragraph) Speaking of The Wire, Wallace is all grown up now. Holy shit. He looks like a MAN on the season premiere of Friday Night Lights. Weird aside: I was driving up Red River past the campus, look over at the sweet convertible next to me and there's Michael B. Jordan! It's like The Wire is in my hood now, too, only a bizarro universe of The Wire in which Wallace wasn't offed, he simply relocated.
But past the sweet guest stars, the real draw to SVU is the cast. Everyone loves Ice-T, and Belzer, reprising his role from Homicide (see how I'm sticking with the non-quotes?), is clearly the shit. Christopher Meloni is great and manages to always project that essence of being on the edge of flying off the handle. His simmering intensity adds an element of tension that isn't present in OG Law & Order (but is alive and well in the person of our modern-day Orson Welles, Vincent D'Onofrio in CI, but CI is really another entry, so I'll avoid too much exposition on that subject matter).
Perhaps most importantly (at least from a male/lesbian standpoint) is the sexy Mariska Hargitay. Working as the small-screen version of Diane Lane, the womanly star is sheer tasteful sex appeal with a badge. The fact that both Olivia and her partner are emotionally damaged people in a Mulder/Scully sexually charged partnership certainly doesn't hurt, either.
Regardless, I could watch SVU any time of the day, and today I've gotten to watch non-stop.