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On American television there are dozens of crime and punishment dramas. Some are good, some are awful, the rest are mediocre. There seems to be no end in sight. These are their stories.

Dong Dong

Law and Order: SVU: Season Two

Series


Ripped from today’s headlines, Law and Order: SVU is undeniably entertaining. Though very similar to the original series, SVU simultaneously widens and shrinks the original formula by breaking the two-act cop and lawyer structure, while also limiting its possible story lines to only sexual crimes. In the end this really changes nothing, as all the Law and Order series are still just the same show, with the same headline ripped stories, and the same D minor electronic bell sounds, just featuring different actors.

Dong Dong

It is the actors that make the series worth the watch. The major players are all more skilled than the show really deserves, and some have since been nominated for and awarded industry accolades. Personally, the cast topper was season two’s inclusion of rapper Ice-T. Yep, the man who ended up the center of mid-‘90s controversy by screaming “cop killer” on a hit single is playing a cop. I know I'm not the first writter to remark on this, but I really had to nonetheless. T and his partner played by comedian Richard Belzer (portraying a character he’s portrayed on both Homicide and The X-Files) were easily my favourites to watch.

Dong Dong

Law and Order: SVU: Season Two
The writing, though solid, suffers from a kind of predictability in its attempts at unpredictability. Guessing the guilty party and the real motive becomes easier with each episode. A fun game to play for those doing their best to pay attention when watching several episode's in a row is the “guess who’s gonna die at the end” game, as nearly every episode seems to end with a cast member getting a phone call announcing the shocking death of one of the episodes victims, suspects, or witnesses (see my screen caps for examples of said phone calls).

Dong Dong

Alone, each episode is better than the average comparable television episode, and even better than most related theatrical releases, but these values do not negate the repetitive nature of the series as a whole. I can recommend the set to fans, but think that others may just want to catch a few episodes on the tube in syndication.


Wrong is Right
Detective Stabler and his daughter find the burning body of a murdered man. His adoptive son is the main suspect, but all is not as it seems…

Honor
An Afghan diplomat’s daughter is found raped and slaughtered. All the clues point towards an act of retaliation from the Taliban due to her American lifestyle, but all is not as it seems…

Closure, Part 2
In a continuation to a first season episode, the SUV detectives investigate a crime with eerie similarities to an older case. The only witness is the victim of an acquitted man, accusing her attacker, but all is not as it seems…

Legacy
When a seven-year-old is found severely beaten, every member of her dysfunctional family is suspect. Deeper and more personal investigation reveals that all is not as it seems…

Baby Killer
Everyone is personally affected when a young Hispanic child shoots a young Black child. Age is nothing but a number to an angered public, but all is not as it seems…

Law and Order: SVU: Season Two
Noncompliance
When a woman is found raped and shot, and a second victim stabbed and in critical condition, only one man can answer the detective’s questions. The only problem is that he is a schizophrenic, and refuses to take his medicine. However, all is not as it seems…

Asunder
What will detectives do when a police officer’s wife accuses her husband of rape? All is not as it seems…

Taken
A 17-year-old is raped and beaten during a hotel’s opening night. The hotel operators try to bury the case with money, and all is not as it seems…

Pixies
A young woman is found, wait for it, raped and murdered. As one of the rising stars in the field of competitive gymnastics, her coach is suspect, but all is not as it seems…

Consent
How can someone not remember the circumstances of her own rape? Why, when all is not as it seems…

Abuse
When a boy dies as a result of his parent’s neglect, the detectives begin to worry about the couple’s daughter. But in the world of fame, all is not as it seems…

Secrets
A respected teacher is found, oh my God, RAPED AND MURDERED. The suspects quickly multiply as her upsetting sexual history is revealed, and all is not as it seems…

Victims
Sex offenders are being murdered, and police officer Eric Roberts is the prime suspect. Is he a new super-hero, or is all not as it seems…

Paranoia
One of the detectives has a mentor who is raped. The crime is linked to her husband’s gambling debts, but all is not as it seems…

Countdown
A serial rapist and killer who kills after the third day of captivity is suspected to have a young girl in his hands. As detectives race to beat the clock, they realize that all is not as it seems…

Runaway
A police officer’s daughter disappears and our heroes chase her into the deep, dark world of underground rave culture, where all is not as it seems…

Folly
The head dame of an all male escort service begins sending her men on deadly woman watching appointments. Why would she do this? Because all is not as it seems…

Manhunt
The Bowery Stalker is a serial killer stalking the city. When detectives look into a recent kidnapping, they find too many links to ignore. Is all as it seems?

Parasites
The scary world of Romanian arranged marriage is turned on its head when a new wife is found dead. An ensuing investigation reveals all is not as it seems…

Pique
In one of two episodes that really should have been at least thirty minutes longer, detectives uncover the very disturbing relationship between a boy and his overbearing mother. Margot Kidder stars as a modern day Mrs. Bates who’s personal motives are not as they seem (?)…

Scourge
The season finale, the other episode that should have been feature length, is a pretty creepy serial killer story with a psychoanalytical twist. Probably the best episode of the entire set, Scourge is surprisingly intense and sad. Oh, and all is pretty much exactly as it seems this time.

Law and Order: SVU: Season Two

Video


For the most part, watching Law and Order: SVU on DVD is akin to watching it on decent cable TV. Stylistically, it is a very dark show, which creates some grain problems. The episodes are stretched over three double-sided discs, and occasionally the over-stuffing causes digital blocking (see the background on the Ice-T screen cap). This is TV though, and there is a lot of information to cover, so this can be overlooked in the interest of keeping the set at an affordable price. I guess.

Audio


The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is effective, and surprisingly spacious. When the detectives walk the beat, the viewer gets the real feeling of being outdoors in New York City. Very satisfying.

Extras


The bonus features are mostly there for show, so that Universal can use them as an extra incentive to buy in the ads. With the exception of the deleted scenes, most of which are pretty unnecessary, the features are fluffy and short. There are profiles (meaning interview apparently) of Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni, both of which are pleasant, but again, unnecessary. The three super-quick featurettes (Fun Set, Sex Crimes and Storylines, and Real SUV) are just tantalizing enough to make the viewer wish for an honest to God documentary on the subject of Special Victims Units.

Law and Order: SVU: Season Two

Overall


A very well made TV show indeed, Law and Order: SVU is, unfortunately just not my cup of tea. That coupled with the fact that watching twenty-one episodes can be a little taxing leads to a pretty lukewarm review on my part. Series fans will most likely already have purchased the set or put it on a future Christmas list. Non-fans should stick with my previous advice and catch a few episodes on free television before plunking down the hard earned cash.


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