Law & Order
THURSDAY, FEB. 24, 8/7c, NBC
YOU KNOW SOMETHING'S a big deal when a pro like Sam Waterston is floored. I wasn't at all expecting to be bowled over, and I was, he says of his first day back on set for the return of the original Law & Order, almost a dozen years after its undeserved cancellation. was amazed at how great-and strangeit felt to step onto what looked exactly like the old sets, all brand-new, with dear old friends and cool new people.
The actor has signed on again full-time as the beloved district attorney he played from 1994 until 2010's not quite series finale. Says producing titan Dick Wolf: Since day one, Sam has had perfect pitch when it comes to Jack McCoy as a character who both reflects and expands our ability to understand the law. He is the ultimate conscience of the show.
The mothership of this much-spun-off crime procedural franchise doesn't reboot so much as it simply resumes, with Season 21. It couldn't be more timely, and its storytelling is rock-solid as ever, continues Waterston. Voices you can trust to tell all sides are always scarce. If we get it right, people will be back throwing their shoes at their TVs and loving it!
As before, the memorable opening narration explains it all. First, the police investigate the crime and then the district attorneys prosecute the offenders. Chachung! Or as showrunner Rick Eid (a Wolf veteran of the original L&O, Chicago P.D. and two FBI entries) puts it, “The first half is still a murder mystery and the second half a moral mystery.
D.A. JACK MCCOY, WE'VE MISSED YOU!
Still, the series that begot cases ripped from the headlines will evolve to reflect today's society. It's essentially the same show in a slightly different world, exploring modern issues and topics, Eid clarifies. The way people police, the way prosecutors try cases, has changed.”
L&O knows from change. Between 1990 and 2010, 26 different actors played police and district attorneys. Stars such as Jerry Orbach, S. Epatha Merkerson, Jesse L. Martin, Benjamin Bratt and Alana De La Garza rotated in and out, with little damage to the ratings. This main cast follows that tradition, blending returning characters and new additions.
On the 2022 homicide Squad: Lt. Kate Dixon (Camryn Manheim, The Practice) and Det. Frank Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan, Burn Notice), plus a familiar face, Det. Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson, who has a one-year deal to reprise his 2008-10 role now that black-ish has finished shooting).
Amid tension between the DA's office and the NYPD, Eid previews, One of Kate's biggest challenges is to mend fences while keeping [her unit's] morale up. According to Manheim, “She is tough-she's an alpha and they respect her-but fair.
The prosecutorial side welcomes two new characters: senior assistant Nathan Price (Hugh Dancy, Hannibal) and junior ADA Samantha Maroun (Odelya Halevi, Good Trouble). We know little about Nathan yet, but Eid describes Samantha, a Lebanese American, as someone who has endured racism and tragedy and is passionate about getting justice for victims.
Eid has high hopes for the renewed series. We're trying hard to continue the legacy, he says. I'd love for this to last another 20 years.” Law & Order fans-aka every TV watcher ever-would probably say the same thing. - Ileane Rudolph
The sisters (Nixon, left, and Baranski) inhale the scent of old money.
The Gilded Age
MONDAY, JAN. 24, 9/8c, HBO
3 THINGS TO KNOW
IF YOU LOVED Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes' sumptuous depiction of life for an aristocratic family and their servants in early-20th-century England, look no further than his 1880s New York twist on the concept for your next addiction. Welcome to... The Gilded Age.
1. It's like Downton in America-but more upstairs than downstairs! The luscious historic drama is set in the post-Civil War era, when massive fortunes were made by industrial titans, some highly born, others self-made. (Nothing says We're in the money like a glittering chandelier, which coincidentally features in the opening credits for both Downton and Gilded.) The new series focuses on several families of varying wealth and pedigree, including the well-established Brook-Van Rhijns and the absolutely rolling-in-dough Russells.
2. It's a time to embrace change. We only receive the old people, not the new, pronounces crusty widow Agnes van Rhijn (Christine Baranski). Think: an entitled (though untitled) figure à la Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess who's fighting, as Agnes says, to hold back the tide of vulgarians that threaten to engulf us.
That peril would be her new Fifth Avenue neighbors, who built a house opulent enough to rival a French chateau. George Russell (Morgan Spector) may not have a posh lineage, but the ruthless railroad tycoon can ruin any competitor who dares to get in his way. Meanwhile, his wife, Bertha (Carrie Coon), “can only apply her capacities to social striving, charity work and making good marriages for her children, Coon says. Though many in society ridicule Bertha's attempts to gain access, the actress defends her: Today, she might have been a politician or an entrepreneur in her own right.
Fellowes agrees. “Agnes hates change because it is the old system that supports her pretensions. Bertha, a child of the new, sees doors opening-and she intends to go through them.
Coon's Bertha enjoys a rare marriage of equals.
3. The younger generation will test the status quo. Agnes and her sister, sweetnatured spinster Ada Brook (Cynthia Nixon), take in their penniless niece Marian (Louisa Jacobson, Meryl Streep's youngest daughter), who shocks them with her independent, questioning mind. Two men seem to fancy Marian, her late father's earnest lawyer (Thomas Cocquerel) and the Russells' son (Harry Richardson), a good-looking charmer -- but the rules governing the era didn't nurture romance. There was no such thing as a date, and a young couple would not be permitted to be alone until they were engaged, Fellowes notes.
Marian's new friend Peggy Scott (Denée Benton) faces challenges due to her sex and her race: A bright, ambitious product of the Black middle class in Brooklyn, she hopes the world is new enough to accept her as a respected writer. Can the Gilded Age also boast enlightenment? - Ileane Rudolph
SUNDAY, JAN. 30, 10/9c, FOX
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