Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Year Seven (2005)
|Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Mystery|
|Universal || NR - 935 minutes - $59.98 || July 29, 2008|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-08-30|
Writer(s): Dick Wolf (created by)
Cast: Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Richard Belzer, Dann Florek, Ice-T, B.D. Wong, Diane Neal, Tamara Tunie
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CBS may have the “CSI” franchise but for my money I think the “Law & Order” series on NBC is better on the whole. “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” was the first spin-off followed a couple years later by “Criminal Intent” (plus a couple others that never took off: “Trial by Jury” and “Conviction”). “Law & Order: SVU” is the darkest of the bunch dealing with sexually based offenses including rape and follows Detectives Elliot Stabler (Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Hargitay). Although the show features very dark stories, the acting is also top notch.
Year Seven (2005-06 season) deals more centers more on Stabler this time between a recent divorce from his wife, Benson transferring to a different department and issues with his out-of-control anger problem. Every episode, while stand-alone, tend to be deeply personal for each detective whether it’s Stabler investigating the son of an ex-partner to Detective Fin (Ice-T) and his relationship with his gay son, there’s no letting up on the personal aspects of each and every case with this ensemble.
Although it’s no wonder why Mariska Hargitay has received numerous Emmy Awards for her part, this year co-star Christopher Meloni gets to show what he’s made of. In the past, his character has always been a maverick of sorts, crossing the line just a little to get to the truth, but in season seven, now he must confront his issues as a parent and with his own father during his childhood. I’m glad that in the past 2-3 seasons they decided to expand on his character as had been done with Hargitay.
One of the few issues I did have with this season, and really something that’s probably present in the past, are the philosophical discussions the SVU squad has with one another. Almost seemingly random, some episodes finds the characters standing around the squad room debating a certain issue that crops up for a case (i.e. gun control) and while I grant you that something like this could happen in police stations around the United States, when it happens here, it’s almost an episode killer breaking up any momentum the story had developed. And not only are these scenes a bit awkward, but they tend to be the same with Stabler and someone else taking the pro side (usually with little vigor or fight) while Benson/*Insert Character* take the other side of the debate. I’m all for balanced argument, but it all felt pretty odd as presented.
In any case, there are several fine episodes, some with political implications while others are those heinous sexually-based crimes Americans have been watching for seven years now. Some of my favorite episodes include ‘Gone’ which is a blatant “ripped from the headlines” on the Natalie Halloway case; ‘Class’ where a girl who had been selling term papers was found dead; and the season finale, ‘Influence’ starring Brittany Snow about pharmaceutical medication.
On a side note, for some reason NBC/Universal is still a year behind releasing these DVD sets. Year Seven covers the 2005-06 season but still missing for the upcoming season premiere is the 2007-08 shortened one.
What’s so great about “Law & Order: SVU” is it’s not content with doing the same old thing with each episode. Even though I appreciate some show that stick to what they do best and ignore needless and uninteresting character development (“CSI”), this is one show that benefits with more depths for the characters along with solid stories. After seven years, it still is a great show that seems to have gotten better with each passing season. And one of the biggest reasons isn’t just the ensemble of supporting cast members, although they are good, but the relationship between Meloni and Hargitay. The two of them have one of the strongest professional chemistry on television and probably why the show continues to be so successful (I believe the ratings have even surpassed the original “Law & Order”).
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
The show is presented in anamorphic widescreen and looks about on par for what I’ve seen on the HD feed. Colors aren’t overly vibrant but there’s enough to keep the show from becoming a completely depressing. Anyway, it’s a good transfer with no real noticeable faults, although I thought I did spot a couple dust or scratch marks.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track provided is suitable though nothing outstanding. It’ll get the job done and that’s all I ask out of it. Besides, this is a 98% dialogue driven show with an occasion chase with dramatic music making up the rest.
Although Universal continues to release “Law & Order: SVU” with absolutely no features, the show itself is worth the price. The performances are all top notch and the stories, while dark, are compelling. The only thing Universal really should do is start catching up and releasing these sets in time for the next season, meaning Year Nine (if my math is right) should’ve come out now.