Still humming along, L&O has become the ultimate comfort show: Every week it offers a new crime cut, dried, and shelved, making the series a handy, self-contained alternative to all the serial dramas with their demanding mythologies.
A few new faces from last season are back, but the formula remains ironclad, right down to the soaring courtroom rhetoric and McCoy's somewhat suspect ethical calculus. This comfort food remains comfortable, indeed.
With relative rookies Jeremy Sisto and Anthony Anderson solving the crimes and scrappy Linus Roache leading the prosecution (with Alana de la Garza) and butting heads with his boss, Law & Order rarely feels like a show entering its 19th season.
Missing here is the complexity that makes shows like "L.A. Law" or "Hill Street Blues" fun to watch. Executive producer Dick Wolf has said Law & Order is not an ensemble show. What it is is a show about police and legal procedures -- and they're recounted in almost documentary fashion. Of course, as with so much TV law, time is collapsed and these complicated procedures are neatly wrapped up by the show's conclusion. [9 Sept 1990, p.H1]
All the masturbation jokes in the world don't help a script that is as inherently stale and as turgidly moralistic as "Dragnet"...This program only makes me want to shut the TV off, not put a foot through the screen. [12 Sept 1990, p.51p]