TV Review: “Law & Order,” Season 18
Nearly 400 episodes are in the can, and I’ve never seen anything like it: Det. Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) is running down the middle of a street in pursuit of a kidnapping suspect who is fleeing the scene on bicycle. The neighborhood is in the middle of a blackout, so it’s quiet. And he’s periodically blowing a whistle — a beat cop whistle! — as he’s barreling through this neighborhood after the scumbag in question. It’s a nice touch, but it’s not the last one.
Longtime viewers are conditioned to expect this to end soon and move on to the next “card,” but it doesn’t. As Lupo turns a corner, he is joined by a half-dozen other cops, almost in formation, and they keep going, and Lupo keeps blowing that silver whistle. It’s a great scene, an uncommon scene and it was one of many surprises in the double-shot premiere of the 18th season of “Law & Order.”
We don’t expect these surprises, especially from a show nearing its 20th year on television and particularly one that was considered to be in its death throes. But Dick Wolf shook up the snow globe, and given the changes that are in effect on “L&O” this season, it could go on for another five years. As of Wednesday’s premiere, it is no longer my comfort food show, my go-to place when I’m too tired to do anything else. I will be excited to watch how the season unfolds.
Milena Govich, right, as Nina Cassaday, being chewed out by Chevy Chase.
Lupo replaces Det. Nina Cassaday, who was played by Milena Govich, who many Oklahoma City readers will remember for her stage work with Lyric Theatre. Govich is great — she was the best thing going on the short-lived semi-”L&O” series “Conviction” – and I’m sorry to see her go, but Nina Cassaday was not a character. She was a pawn. The show runners’ failure to write a character and just let Govich wander through the season, waiting to contribute, was a disservice to the show and to the actress. She deserved better.
But kudos for the hiring of Sisto, who is spectacular at playing eccentrics — his Billy Chenowith on “Six Feet Under” got under viewers’ skin like no other character on that show. Cyrus Lupo is introduced at the beginning as the brother of an assisted suicide. He comes back to New York to be with the family after a few years in some purposely vague duty overseas: he’s rumpled, unshaven and wearing sweats and aviators when we first see him, and who knows what’s going on with this guy.
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