Monday, February 7, 2011

UK Television: Law & Order: UK, Introduction

For the past twenty years Law & Order has been one of the biggest and most successful franchises in television history.  The original Law & Order series began on NBC on September 13, 1990 and spawned two popular spin-off's:  Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit (SVU) and Law & Order:  Criminal Intent (CI).  A short-lived summer series, Crime & Punishment, a focus on real cases and real trials, aired in 2002.  In 2005, a one-season series, Law & Order:  Trial By Jury brought the wildly popular Lennie Briscoe character briefly back to television following his departure from the original series.  A new series, Law & Order:  Los Angeles premiered in 2010 after the cancellation of the original series. 

The story lines of Law & Order made the phrase "ripped from the headlines" common television vernacular, the ever-evolving cast kept the series fresh and gave us favorites such as Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) and Mike Logan (Chris Noth).  The flagship of the Law & Order franchise is gone now (and Criminal Intent is soon to be gone as well) but Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit and Law & Order:  Los Angeles remain to keep the franchise alive in North America and around the world.

Because of the popularity of Law & Order it wasn't any surprise when Law & Order:  UK debuted on the British television network ITV1 on February 5, 2009.  The series was created by the same man who brought the original series to North America, Dick Wolf.  Andrew Woodhead, Jane Featherstone, Stephen Garrett, Dick Wolf and Chris Chinball serve as executive producers with Richard Stokes and Terry Cafolla serving as producer and co-producer, respectively.

Law & Order:  UK is twenty-six episodes into its run.  In the United Kingdom, the show is officially in season two.  A full UK season comprises thirteen, one-hour episodes.  The first seven air, then, a few months later, the final six air.  In Canada, the series has officially finished season four.  There aren't any more episodes to a North American season, they simply air differently:
North American Season One:  UK episodes 1.1-1.7
North American Season Two:  UK episodes 1.8-1.13
North American Season Three:  UK Episodes 2.1-2.7
North American Season Four:  UK Episodes 2.8-2.13  (these six episodes have aired in Canada but have yet to air in the UK)

The characters on Law & Order:  UK are as colorful, intriguing and compelling as their North American counterparts.

Detective Sergeant Ronnie Brooks (Bradley Walsh) is a smart and tough seasoned detective with a sense of humor and passion for food.  Ronnie Brooks almost always has something to eat either in his hands, at his desk or on order.  He's always joking about the "next ex-Mrs. Brooks".  Ronnie is compassionate to those left behind after the loss of a loved one.  He gives his partner, Matt Devlin the benefit of the knowledge he's gained throughout his career.

Detective Sergeant Matt Devlin (Jamie Bamber) starts out as a relative newcomer to the sort of investigations he works with D.S. Ronnie Brooks.  Using his partners guidance, Devlin never makes the same mistake twice and quickly learns how to avoid making them in the first place.  Matt is handsome and a charmer and his good looks and charm sometimes come in quite handy in getting witnesses to talk.

Detective Inspector Natalie Chandler (Harriet Walter) takes nothing from no one including her detectives, the lawyers or the press.  She's seen almost everything but there are still some things that can shock even her. 

Senior Crown Prosecutor James Steel (Ben Daniels) is tough and takes nothing from no one.  He wants justice almost at any cost.  He will manipulate the system in order to make sure an offender is put behind bars, however, he holds a strong love of the law and never breaks it, merely bends it to do what is right.  (Sadly, James Steel will no longer be in Law & Order:  UK.  Ben Daniels has moved on to other projects and will be replaced by Dominic Rowan.)

Junior Crown Prosecutor Alesha Phillips (Freema Agyeman) is soft spoken and sympathetic to those who have been hurt or wronged.  She came from a hard background and worked her way up to the Crown Prosecutors office.  After having been assaulted by a doctor, she has a unique insight into what the victim is going through.

Director of Public Prosecutions George Castle (Bill Patterson) has been around long enough to know all the tricks of the trade and is well-respected by his peers.  He has a deep respect for the law and does his best to juggle the politics of justice with the job of carrying it out.

Several recurring characters finish out the cast and bring the series to life:  Angela (Jessica Gunning), Joy Ackroyd (Nicola Sanderson), Teddy (Tariq Jordan), Dr. Roddy Armitage (George Anton) and Judge Hall (Diana Quick).

Robert Glenister serves as the narrator, the "voice" of Law & Order:  UK.  It is Glenister's voice you hear at the start of every episode.  Glenister also appears in Season 2, Episode 6, Honor Bound as D.S. Jimmy Valentine.

Peter Davison and Dominic Rowan will be joining the cast of Law & Order:  UK in 2001 as CPS Director Henry Sharpe and Senior Crown Prosecutor Jacob Thorne respectively.

I'm sure some viewers question why Law & Order:  UK chooses to re-write the American Law & Order scripts rather than choosing story lines from the UK.  Surely, there are crimes in London or elsewhere throughout the British Isles that would make a great Law & Order, right?  I, personally, have no problem with the "recycled scripts".  There are two decades of episodes for the writers to choose from and I have found the choices interesting thus far.  Not one time have I watched an episode of Law & Order:  UK and felt the show was an exact replica of the U.S. script it was based upon.  The UK writers and actors have taken the original plots and made them their own.

While I do like Law & Order:  SVU, I personally believe Law & Order:  UK is the strongest link in the Law & Order brand now that the original series is gone.  Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows how I feel about Law & Order:  Los Angeles.  I'm looking forward to many more seasons of L&O: UK.  With such a fine cast and fine writers, I'm positive the series can continue for years to come.

Law & Order:  UK airs on ITV1 in the UK.
For more information:
Law & Order:  UK
ITV1 Official Site:
Internet Movie Database:
TV Rage:

1 comment:

  1. I think LOUK is probably in the top three for me. I love LOUK, SVU and the original L&O although it was canceled. I'm kind of hoping that it gets brought back on the air because I thought it was pretty awesome. The UK version is doing pretty good for itself and I'm upset that I didn't begin watching it sooner. Now that Ben Daniels isn't on the show anymore, I'm so curious and anxious to see what's going to happen now. Luckily, I was able to watch it in the best quality possible using the HD Free for Life promotion with DISH Network. The promotion allows me to watch all of my favorite shows in the best quality possible and I know that I'll never pay another penny to do so. The promotion is even available on the lowest basic package which is the America's Top 120 so anyone can enjoy this excellent offer. Since I work and subscribe to DISH Network, I am always recommending that people check it out because it's well worth it.