The First Evil (asta77) wrote,
The First Evil

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Law & Order: UK, Episode 1: Care

It occurred to me that not yet having posted a review might imply I didn't like Law & Order: UK, which isn't the case. Granted, it's no Battlestar Galactica, but it's also no Ultimate Force (Thank God!). My intent was to post Tuesday afternoon, but I became distracted by the now famous Peta ad featuring Jamie. That was followed by two nights socializing with people (in real life...eeeee!) and a podcast recap that had to be shared. Now, with new BSG tomorrow night to consume my attention, I figured I'd better get my thoughts posted.

"We're not just pretty faces, you know?"

Matt Devlin to Alesha Phillips

No, Jamie, you're more than a pretty face, but, damn, it's sometimes hard to get past it. I'll get the shallow out of the way first. Jamie looks incredible in this series. In his first few scene it was hard to focus on anything but him. Not that he doesn't look good on BSG, but the show is so dark, both in terms of the filming as well as subject matter, it was nice to see him outside, under the sun and sky, and for him to have the opportunity to joke and to smile. While the show deals with serious crimes, it's not bleak and it was a joy to see a lighter side to Jamie.

I must mention the opening credits. I'm a fan of credits that show you the actor along with their name on screen. It's particularly helpful with new shows to be able to put a name with a face. I never had an issue with BSG not doing it because it was the rare show that used their credit sequence to help tell the story. So I was geeked to see Jamie's face and name together. It's also nice to see him progress up the credit ranks. ;)

I've read some, in my opinion, overly critical reviews. Perhaps the Law & Order franchise and procedurals in general will not translate to the British audience. One critic was put off by the touches of humor during the investigation of a murdered baby. While I feel humor is used as a coping mechanism for those that have to deal with such horrific cases on a daily basis, it's also in keeping with the other Law & Order series. (And Matt's insistence that he didn't kill a goldfish he was given, it was ailing when he received it, cracked me up. :) I also suspect that some people are just unhappy with importing American shows to the UK.

Is Law & Order:UK as good as it's predecessor? Right now, I'd say no. Most network and basic cable series have had to deal with shorter run times to make way for more advertising. Long conversations between characters are rare. And shows such as Law & Order that need to present and solve a crime in under 44 minutes have to move at a brisk pace. The UK version I felt took that to the extreme. The 'Law' portion was a series of quick cuts and rapid fire scenes, many lasting less then a minute. Even the characters seemed to talk faster than would be considered the norm. It was very difficult to follow the investigation and I became confused as to who they were talking about unless the character was on screen. The 'Order' side moved at a slower pace and was easier to follow. Is the series progresses, I hope adjustments are made in the scripting and editing.

Dick Wolf has hope that 'UK' will be added to the NBC lineup, possibly Saturday night. Even in that relative TV dead zone, I don't see it happening. While the look is very similar to it's American predecessor, from the hand held cameras to the iconic music and black screen that takes you from one scene to the next, there is enough that is too different. People will have a hard time grasping the concept of a detective without a gun. And the wigs! Even I had a hard time not being amused by them. (To be honest, I don't understand why they are still in use. Maybe someone can explain it to me.) And I've watched quite a bit of British TV and film over the years, I'd say more than the average American, yet some British terms still escaped me. I do feel the series could find an audience in the U.S., but on a cable network where expectations would be smaller.

As for the plot of 'Care', I didn't find it particularly interesting or compelling which is odd because, usually, a story involving a dead child would really get to me. Part of the problem was the guilty parties had the minimum of character development and weren't particularly well acted. You could pretty much tell who was going to be arrested thirty seconds after being introduced to them. And I felt the defense attorney was too nice on cross examination, but perhaps British attorneys (I should probably be using barrister?) are more civil.

I had several smaller quibbles. The teaser was confusing. Given recent terror attacks, I understood the two police officers fear and hesitation in opening the bag left outside the hospital, but shouldn't their job have been to just secure the area and call in the bomb squad? Unzipping the bag slowly and hoping for the best seemed a poor way to handle the situation. Jamie's accent was a bit inconsistent (as it was in the BSG mini and got better). I'm not a fan of the theme music, but perhaps that is an American bias since it seemed in keeping with other British TV shows I've seen. And I found it hard to buy that Matt and Ronnie have been working together for years, yet Matt is just discovering Ronnie can speak French.

As for the cast, they were all good. Freema Agyeman I thought would be the weak link, but I found her to be a stronger actress than some of her U.S. counterparts.
Tags: l&o uk

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