Case Number 22509: Small Claims Court


Universal // 2010 // 939 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 13th, 2011

The Charge

Meet the new boss...

The Case

Dick Wolf brings his dependable procedural formula to the West Coast and NBC hopes beyond hope this installment of the never-say-die Law and Order franchise will resuscitate its flagging ratings. No dice. After its initial season, the plug was pulled on Law and Order: Los Angeles. But Wolf fans can relive the wonder of the same scenario you've been watching for 100 years just with new faces and a legion of recognizable guest stars.

Those new faces were headlined by Skeet Ulrich (Jericho) as Detective Rex Winters and Alfred Molina (Spider-man 2) as Deputy District Attorney Morales. As is the playbook, a crime breaks out, the detectives investigate, nail the alleged perpetrator, and then the justice system takes over. You know the drill.

What hamstrings Law and Order: Los Angeles is the helter-skelter creative overhaul that shredded the show. Without getting into spoilers, sweeping events take headlining characters out of the universe, with multiple individuals finding themselves written out. Eventually, Terrence Howard joins the cast and splits the workload with Molina. It's a creative tsunami and, while the result is a show with big-name feature film stars always on the screen, the nuts and bolts remain the same.

Which works fine. I've been burnt out on Law and Order for a while now. To be fair, I'm off the crime procedural bandwagon entirely. If you consider yourself a fan of the genre, then you'll find sufficient entertainment here. And if you can't get enough of the Dick Wolf brand, you'll be floating on clouds of warm, liquid gossamer.

Law and Order: Los Angeles' storylines once again are inspired by real-world events, most notably the episode "Hayden Tract," an episode about a psychotic who goes on a shooting spree during a politician's speech. The actors -- regardless of who happens to be drawing a paycheck at any given moment -- bring the typical, furrowed-brow earnestness and gravitas to their roles. The performances aren't memorable (save for maybe Alfred Molina who sports the most charisma), but they get the job done, which is move the story along to its inevitable dramatic court conclusion.

One last question: Is it required in all courtroom dramas that the judges reel off witty one-liners? Does that happen in real life? Because I might just have to get myself arrested more. Those guys are funny!

A utilitarian Law and Order: Los Angeles five-disc set starts with a so-so 1.78:1 anamorphic standard definition transfer and 5.1 Dolby surround mix. It ends with a brief behind-the-scenes featurette and a commentary track on "Hayden Tract" from the episode's writer/director Rene Balcer.

The Verdict

I'm bored with this stuff, but for fans...Not Guilty.

Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile
Studio: Universal
Video Formats:
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)

* English (SDH)

Running Time: 939 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Featurette

* IMDb