Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Second Year (2000)

Genre(s): Crime / Drama
Universal || NR - 923 minutes - $59.98 || September 27, 2005
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2005-10-04


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Dick Wolf (created by)
Cast: Christopher Meloni, Marsika Hargitay, Dann Florek, Richard Belzer, Ice-T, Stephanie March, B.D. Wong


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Mariska Hargitay Profile
  • Christopher Meloni Profile
  • Sex Crimes & Storylines
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Fun Set
  • Real SVU


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Full Screen (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Out of the three "Law & Order" series, "Special Victims Unit" is the most original, innovative and intriguing among them. Compared to Season 5 (2003-04), I don't really see a big difference with the second season, a season which the show really hit it's stride (and really when many will prove whether they can last). Rapper Ice-T makes his entrance this year replacing Michelle Hurd as Det. Munch's (Belzer) partner, Detective Tutuola. Throughout the season they try to gauge each other and find out personal histories and the such resulting in some funny moments to lighten up dark and distrubing stories.

As with the rest of the series, the primary focus is on Detectives Benson (Hargitay) -- winner of a Golden Globe and recently nominated for an Emmy -- and Stabler (Meloni). Some of the episodes have minor focus on their personal lives such as Stabler's family or the death of Benson's mother (which in that particular episode has a plotline which is in the deleted scenes and will be covered later). This season the four detectives (along with Captain Donald Cragen) investigate various cases including sexual assaults, a gymnast murder, a girl who was raped during a hotel's grand opening and a serial killer who is dying from a deteriorating medical condition (amongst other sexually based crimes).

It's the variety of cases that makes this crime drama stand out from the rest. While I enjoy "CSI", the characters are becoming mundane and even the cases are tiresome. So what makes "Special Victims Unit" different? In a word: Passion. Although William L. Petersen (on "CSI") and Vincent O'Onofrio ("L&O: Criminal Intent") are quirky, they seem to lack the same kind of passion as Benson. I realize the some out there find her annoying, but for some reason I find the character to be interesting and it keeps the show fresh.

Season two features 21 episodes running between 41 and 43 minutes each.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Unlike Season 5, the second season release from Universal offers a tad more in the special features department. I still would like to have a few commentary tracks from the cast and crew, but alas I will have to wait for the third and/or sixth seasons...

Season 2 includes more than 20 deleted scenes, a majority of which are merely alternate takes/scenes. However, there were three of note that, if included, would change a character dramatically. In the episode "Taken", Benson's mother dies and leaves a note in a safe deposit box which brings into question whether Olivia's mother was actually raped. In another deleted scene in this same plotline, Beson actually meets her father, a college psych professor. This sequence while interesting brings Benson's background mystery to a (even semi) closure too early in the series. But, I am still glad they put it on the DVD never-the-less.

The Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni Profiles both run over 5-minutes and feature interviews with each actor. The interviews aren't too extensive, but good enough to give you an idea of these two people you watch week in, week out. The information provided covers the basics like how they got into acting, how they got the part and what their big break was (for Hargitay, "ER"; Meloni "NYPD Blue"). Not entirely enticing, but good to watch for the die-hard fans.

Sex Crimes & Storylines is another shorty running under 3-minutes. It covers the disturbing stories on the show and how the cast members deal with it. Nothing new or interesting, but harmless.

The Fun Set featurette has more behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the actors talking about how, despite the dark material, they try to keep things light. Though a bit short and could've had more outtakes/flubbed lines, it's fun to watch.

Real SVU, which runs a solid three and a half minutes, just has more interviews with the actors as they talk about their experiences with doing research on what the sexual assault detectives (and prosecutors) do. Also, they recount how sexual assault victims come up and thank them.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

This set, like the last, is presented in the original full frame format. When in the DVD player, it looks just like it does if you were watching it on a network. Nothing really incredible here, nor is there anything wrong either. Since other NBC shows like "The West Wing" and "Las Vegas" are filmed -- and presented -- in widescreen, it's only a matter of time (if they haven't already) until "SVU" does the same.

The same can be said for the sound as well. It too is standard 2.0 Dolby Digital, something that you can just use your TV sound rather than your surround sound system. Like the picture, I hope they'll be able to put in a 5.1 mix in later releases.



.::OVERALL::.

The season two "Law & Order: SVU" DVD box set is an improvement over the last release, though I still desire some more nominal features (commentary, outtakes, interviews with real life detectives, etc). However, the episodes in this season are quite good and moving and any fan of the show, casual or otherwise, will enjoy it.