Law & Order: Blackmail

Look at me posting twice in one weekend!  As I previously posted, my renewed fondness for L&O isn’t so much my eternal love for a long-standing crime show but more for the emerging ship of Mike and Connie.  We didn’t get much between them this past episode, if anything at all.  I’m not a crazy shipper who insists that hints of smiles or glances means they have full-blown feelings for each other.  That type of stuff is so subjective.  The way Law & Order restricts the information about the character’s personal lives, I think it quite possible we won’t get anything definitive for quite a while, and certainly nothing obvious like “For the Defense.”

This past Friday’s episode, a long time coming, was a standard, formulaic episode.  They remained consistent to their “ripped from the headlines” plot devices, this time tackling the Letterman blackmail story, except in this case it was a lesbian affair the host wanted to cover up.  The first half of the episode was stronger than the second half as the big twist for the cops was Jack McCoy showing up before the 15 minute mark, declaring that their prime suspect (the TV host) had approached McCoy that she was a victim of a blackmail scheme.

Immediately, as a longtime L&O viewer, I doubted this story, but as the show went on, it turned out to be true.  The blackmailer was revealed as the murdered victim’s editor/lover.  Once Cutter and Connie get involved, the whole thing begins to unravel where the blackmailer is being blackmailed by his accomplice.  McCoy then decides to then blackmail the TV host to force her to testify against blackmailer #1 so he would turn on blackmailer #2.  Confused?  Really it was just a bit convoluted.  I do want to thank the writers for at least not making the estranged husband be the obvious suspect, as I’ve grown quite weary of that typical scapegoat on this show.

However, what led me to write-up this post, was more on something I’ve only paid attention to on occasion: the telltale TITLE cards that introduce new date/segments of the show.  They intrigue only because crime dramas play loosely with time lines, especially when lab tests that usually take days will seem to take merely hours or even minutes (I’m looking at you CSI: Miami).  L&O has been using them for years, though to be fair, DNA evidence was not something they relied so heavily back in their early days.  What got my attention this time was the fact that this all came down during the week of Thanksgiving. I know, because my birthday is on November 22nd.  That day was a Sunday and I noticed when the cops were questioning suspects on Monday, November 23rd.  They got that part right, and I knew that Thanksgiving was that Thursday.  Sure enough, after the arrest, Connie arraigned DiPalma on Thanksgiving day, when you know court is NOT in session, and Cutter/Connie were following up with witnesses on Black Friday.  Now the next time we see Connie and Cutter, they are in jeans* in his office so I imagine that was to be Saturday though no title card officially declared it.

I know, I’m analyzing this to the point of lunacy, but it irritates me because obviously they have some sort of calendar program they plug here.  The “‘jeans” for Mike* and Connie to wear had timed to fit on Saturday so the title cards could work with that.  In this day of computers, why not plug-in national holidays as an added bonus of realism?  Just a suggestion.

Now my other problem with this episode was the “stakeout” where police waited for the blackmailer to approach Vanessa (the TV host).  Detective Lupo couldn’t have been more obvious if he had worn NYPD blues and shouted a megaphone ordering her around.  It was in his body language and in his manner while looking for anyone approaching her.  Thank GOD DiPalma was a moron himself and not only failed to notice Lupo staring at him on his approach to Vanessa, but in the fact he failed to recognize him as the investigating officer of his employee/former lover.

Since this episode was basically just average, the issues above stood out like two sore thumbs.  Something else that seemed random but was coming for awhile was Van Buren’s dressing down of Lupo and Bernard’s shoddy bearded look.  Apparently the real NYPD frowns upon their policemen, especially detectives, walking around with 5 o’clock shadows, and Lupo’s especially was looking pretty grubby.  The Internet rumor provided by Anthony Anderson is that Dick Wolf’s own wife had issue with their beards and told to shave them.  I find that hilarious,  even leading actors on a TV show will be subject to the whims of eccentric owners (like former companies I worked for).

Now we have to wait for two more weeks to see what comes next, which looks like a really good episode.  Hopefully it won’t disappoint.

*I know I asked the show to incorporate more realism when it comes to using dates on this show, but having Mike Cutter in jeans is something that can help the inaccuracy go down much smoother.  Perhaps McCoy could issue some casual Fridays for his DA’s, and Mike show up in t-shirts soon?  I understand New Yorkers are quite fond of spring.

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