havers (havers) wrote,

...and let some pretty-boy actor come in and stand obediently two steps behind Erbe at all times...

Ken Tucker

book 0

Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About TV

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (January 13, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 031233057X
ISBN-13: 978-0312330576
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces

~ pp. 217-220 ~

book 1 book 2 book 3 book 4


The Women of Law & Order: A Lamentation

These poor women. These poor, underutilized women. These poor, and in some cases, untalented women. These poor, some of them talented women.
Okay, Kathryn Erbe on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, she's really good, but she's doomed to exist in the shadow of that eregious ham-bone Vincent D'Onofrio. You suspect S. Epatha Merkerson of the original-flavor L&O is really good because maybe you've seen her in other things, but, let's face it, she was allowed to do more acting as Reba the Mail Lady on Pee-wee's Playhouse than delivering the 3,784th variation on "Go check out this guy" order to Jerry Orbach and whomever he's teamed up with, depending on what rerun you're watching.
But the rest - these women are poorly served by the Law & Order franchise. It's been said that NBC told producer Dick Wolf to oust Dann Florek from L&O in 1993 and replace him with a female boss because the series needed to attract more women. If true, Merkerson certainly deserved the work ... it's just that there's so little of it to do. On the flagship show, it's still pretty much 50 percent track-the-criminals, 50 percent try-'em-and-try-to-fry-'em. That's where the female assistant district attorneys come in. And go. Jill Hennessy (1993-1996) - she had to leave to do Crossing Jordan just to prove that she was a bad actress; Carey Lowell (1996-1998) - I'm thinkin', two seasons? probably very little off-camera chemistry with costar Sam Waterston and the producers, too much chemistry with boyfriend Richard Gere; Angie Harmon (1998-2005) - a good-looking person and a wooden actress; and Elisabeth Röhm (2001-2005) - seems to have been recruited by Wolf on one of his infrequent visits to a farm. Oh, calm down - I mean she looks like a healthy farm girl, nothing worse than that. The only semiregular woman I ever thought did a terrific job on L&O was Carolyn McCormick's tight-jawed psychiatriost Dr. Elizabeth Olivet (1991-1997), but once again, too little face time, too much psychobabble substituting for characterization.
Over on L&O: Special Victims Unit, I'm not including Mariska Hargitay because she's a costar. In fact, by the no-personal-life-details rule of L&Os, we know too much about her character. Michelle Hurd played a detective for two seasons but was shunted aside for Ice T's Fin. The big liability on the series was Stephanie March as A.D.A. Alex Cabot, who could occasionally be substituted with a life-sized cardboard cut-out in a courtroom scene without anyone being the wiser. Match got the most dramatic send-off on any L&O show: in the early episode of 2003, Cabot got involved in a gangland case abd was murdered ... or so we thought. Turns out she was put into the witness protection program. Why? No reason that made sense, other than the fact that maybe the writers thought killing her off was too old-school. She's been supplanted by Diane Neal's Casey Novak, a chipper woman who has yet to display much in the way of canny law sense because we don't see much of her, except when she's placed in a subordinate role, for example, acting behind guest star Marlo Thomas, as Novak's former mentor.
This brings the circle back to Criminal Intent's Erbe, a fine, understated actress with a puckish sense of humour, none of which is initially apparent when her gigantic costar is busy waving his turkey-sized hands around, and bending his broad frame into odd positions to unnerve suspects and unsuspecting viewers. Erbe manages to give her line readings a wry, juuuuust-this-side-of-sarcastic twist, signalling to us that she knows she's being upstaged and doesn't really care for it, but what can she do? She's lucky she made it through her real-life maternity leave and still had her job when she came back. A Law & Order paycheck is a good gig, and Wolf could have thrown her to the wolves. Maybe some year, when contract negociations with D'Onofrio go sour, and with that moody big bastard, you know they will, maybe Dick Wolf will have the guts to fire him, make Erbe the real front-and-center star of the show, and let some pretty-boy actor come in and stand obediently two steps behind Erbe at all times. That would be true justice in this criminal justice system ..."

Source: strangevisitor.org and amazon.

I laughed very hard about the last two sentences, but there are also other good lines.
Tags: book, criminal intent, kathryn
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