It's Law and Order, But What Are They Wearing on Their Heads?
By Nancy Wurtzel on August 19, 2011
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I've long been a Law & Order fan. I got seriously hooked on it two decades ago when gritty cop shows were more of a novelty. The original series with its signature bum bum tones has always been my favorite. Thanks to syndication, I've seen every episode at least three or four times.
So, it was truly a sad day when they canceled it last year. Oh, there was still SVU and Criminal Intent, neither of which are my top choice, but certainly better than much of what is on television these days. NBC even tried to appease us die-hard fans with Law & Order: Los Angeles, and while I liked the characters, the story lines just didn't cut it. I guess viewers agreed as this latest Law & Order franchise was recently canceled after just two seasons.
With the original Law & Order closed down for good, I've been adrift for most of this viewing season. Feeling sad, unfulfilled -- as though something important was missing from life.
Then I saw a small article online about a new Law & Order incarnation that is now available on BBC America-- Law & Order: UK.
Courtesy BBC America
With great anticipation, I tuned in one Friday evening. The British version is actually quite similar to the original Law & Order, and the scripts are smart and vaguely familiar. The reason for this is that the producers evidently recycled some of the best original Law & Order story lines reworking them for the British audience. It's worked well and the show is very popular with viewers across the pond.
Initially, I only understood about every third or fourth word. When watching the UK version, it's best to keep in mind that while the actors are speaking English, it is not American English. A person in charge is called guv, for example, and a truck is a lorry, while a policeman is a copper. And they talk FAST! Here's a sample of a sentence in Ameri-speak: "The guy used his cell phone to call his girlfriend at her apartment." Here's the same sentence in Brit-speak: "The bloke used his mobile to ring his bird at her flat."
You get the idea. In spite of the challenges of following the dialogue, I really love the UK version. Like the original Law & Order, it's sharp, focused, timely and loaded with some nice twists and turns to keep the viewer on her toes.
The big difference is that when the English characters appear in court as barristers and judges they wear really bad wigs and rather severe black gowns -- which they have evidently done in Britain for many centuries. Like a car crash, you just can't look away.
There is no getting around it: I still miss the the original Law & Order. But the wigs do help.