NBC launched its â€œOops, weâ€™re sorry we yanked your show on the eve of its 20th year. Cookie?â€ conciliatory offering to Dick Wolf, also known as Law & Order: Los Angeles, last night.
So, is it radically different from any of the L&O predecessors? No. And yes. Sort of. The theme songâ€™s been discoâ€™d a bit and the titling occurs over a map of Los Angeles. The casting was ridiculous with recognizable guest stars, and weâ€™ll find out soon enough if thatâ€™s going to be a regular thing because, well, in LA, the farm team is generally recognizable. But, I hope, since itâ€™s shooting in LA proper, it will also give some on-camera jobs to the up and comers who need them. Also, points for showing off the architecture and views.
The show is headlined by Skeet Ulrich, who I never think of for cop roles, but heâ€™s very sincere here as Rex Winters, a dad to a preteen and a newborn (assuming by different wives given the age difference but I donâ€™t recall explicitly whether they said that). His partner, Tomas “TJ” Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll), doesnâ€™t make reference to a family, so he may or may not have one. Wanda de Jesus is their captain. The DAs in this rotation are Alfred Molina and Regina Hall, who also do very good work. Itâ€™s pretty standard A to B to C L&O storytelling, with solid performances all around and a scoche of plot misdirection, but no really, truly big surprises.
The plot is lifted straight from the tabloids with the merger of a daughter starlet/stage mama combo and the teen-orchestrated celebrity burglary spree that went on last year in LA. In the events of the episode, a similar robbery ring has been ongoing, but the L&O team is brought in when the girlfriend of an up-and-coming wannabe A-lister is attacked during a break-in. At the time, said wannabe was in a club with the current reigning starlet, the daughter in the above mentioned combo, Chelsea Sennett (Danielle Panabaker), who seems to always be with the robbery victims when their homes are targeted. Thereâ€™s some back and forth investigating of other victims and then one of the robbers is shot dead in the Sennett home by mom, Trudy.
Things unravel from there. It turns out that mom not only had a booty call relationship with her victim but was also driving the whole robbery ring as a side business. That hat is tipped by Oded Fehr, playing a club owner and Trudyâ€™s husband (on paper only). Trudy pleads not guilty until the DAs threaten to reveal in court that she pimped Chelsea out to a reality douche by encouraging her to date him for six months. She canâ€™t have that, so she takes a 15-to-life deal on the shooting.
Chelsea is painted here as more of an unwitting pawn than manipulative monster party girlâ€• sheâ€™s a naÃ¯ve girl whoâ€™s been manipulated and managed personally and professionally. When Trudy is carted off to jail at the end of the episode, Chelsea stands blank-faced outside the courtroom, unsure where to go or what to do without a minder. Rex finds her in the hallway and gently ushers her out, away from the press; the elevator doors close on her terrified face.
Other guest stars were Shawnee Smith as Trudy (still processing her as a mom to a twentysomething because we’re the same age) and Supernatural‘s Jim Beaver as the shooting victim’s clueless pop from Houston. The alternate DA team in episodes to come will be Peter Coyote and Terrence Howard, so I’ll keep watching. The episode repeats tonight on Oxygen and is available on NBC.com.
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