Friday, May 14, 2010

LAW & ORDER Rests It's Case. It's Canceled After 20 Year Run

After a mere 456 episodes, NBC finally confirmed Friday that the original LAW & ORDER series is being canceled after 20 seasons. The May 24 episode now becomes the series finale. At it's peak, two great NY stage actors, Jerry Orbach And Jesse L. Martin made LAW & ORDER one of TV's greatest police and courtroom dramas of all time. The show's formula involved the first half hour being the police work that led up to the arrest, while great actors like Sam Waterston and former Senator Fred Thompson were prominent in the second half hour's courtroom drama.

Besides sagging ratings, NBC was concerned that the audience for the show continued to age. Nearly 64% of all the program's viewers were the over 50 set. And ratings had tumbled down from a peak of 19 million at one time during the Jerry Orbach days to only about 4.7 viewers. All of this meant that the series was living on borrowed time.

When Jerry Orbach was forced to leave the show when he suffered from prostate cancer, the show began to take a slow slide in ratings. For all intent and purposes, Jerry Orbach was "Mr. Law & Order", with his strong salty character role really lifting the show. Ailing Jerry Orbach was cast in a poorly received spin-off of LAW & ORDER, LAW & ORDER: TRIAL BY JURY that was canceled after a short 13 episode run. However, Orbach only completed just two episodes in the series before having to leave as his cancer worsened and eventually died.

LAW & ORDER also became a revolving door for numerous talented actors such as Paul Sorvino, Chris Noth, Angie Harmon, Benjamin Bratt, Jill Hennessey and George Dzundza. Chris Noth eventually reappeared on the LAW & ORDER spin-off, LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT, while Canadian actress Jill Hennessey went on to star in the excellent series, CROSSING JORDAN.

NBC plans to replace the original LAW & ORDER with a new series, LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES, and LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNITS will continue for another season as well. LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT will also continue to run on the NBC's sister cable channel, the USA Network.

Case closed. (gavel pounds down).


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