Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005) - The Complete Series

Genre(s): Drama
Universal || NR - 558 minutes - $59.98 || April 25th, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-05-01


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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 (creator)
Cast: Bebe Neuwirth, Amy Carlson, Kirk Acevedo, Scott Cohen, Fred Dalton Thompson, Jerry Orbach


Theatrical Release Date: N/A


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Deleted Scenes
  • A Different Look at "Law & Order"
  • "Law & Order: SVU" Crossover Episode


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Full Screen (1.33)
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plot Outline (from DVD back cover): Partner up with Jerry Orbach, Fred Dalton Thompson and Bebe Neuwirth to explore the judicial system like never before: not only from the point of view of the police and prosecutors, but also the defense team, judges, jurors and the defendants themselves.

I believe due to CBS's "CSI" franchise taking off with two spin-offs within only a couple years with "CSI: Miami" (2002) and "CSI: NY" (2004), NBC I guess decided to wratchet things up. It took them 9 years to spin off their popular series, "Law & Order" with "Law & Order: SVU" (Special Victims Unit) and then "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" two years later. While the original has fallen on hard times with "CSI: NY" taking their ratings on Wednesday nights, "SVU" has prospered going from decent Friday ratings to a solid slot on Tuesdays. Meanwhile "Criminal Intent" has done well on Sunday nights. So, with a seemingly good blueprint, creator Dick Wolf went for the third spinoff, this time focusing on the neauances of the order side with "Law & Order: Trial by Jury".

As the custom in the "L&O" franchise, they nab actors who made strong impressions on previous episodes on the other spin-offs. For instance, Diane Neal played a prostitute in a 2001 episode only to play ADA Casey Novak 2 years later. Annabella Sciorra played a defense attourney in the series premiere on "Trial by Jury" before playing Detective Barek on "Criminal Intent". And finally, Bebe Neuwirth played a sleaze on "SVU" and then an ADA in "Trial". No real point to all this, just a general note about how the series sees an actor/actress and will give them a primary role even if they played a villain in a previous episode.

On to "Trial by Jury" now... As someone who enjoys the "Law" aspect over "Order", "Trial by Jury" by its nature didn't grab me right away. Even so, after watching a couple episodes, I found the show lacked the emotional depth of "SVU", the slickness of the original series and the entertainment value of "Criminal Intent" (especially because of Vincent D'Onofrio performance). However, unlike the "CSI" spin-offs, this one does distinguish itself more than just colours but in it's core style and flow.

While we get to see a ton of police investigations in the other three, that is only a minimal part of this show; that area is covered by "L&O" veteran Lenny Brischoe (Orbach) Hector Salazar (Acevedo), playing D.A. Investigators. We also get a glimpse at the jury room, the judges feelings on cases talking to each other and, the most interesting part, the defense attourneys. If you hated them before, you'll certainly hate them here. As an example, the series premiere finds a Broadway producer on trial for murder (without a body) and while in a meeting with his attourney (Sciorra) he admits to the crime and how he did it and yet, she could care less. I realize they have a duty to represent their client, but have they NO moral value left?

"Law & Order: Trial by Jury" is a good show but -- and this is the reason it probably was cancelled so quickly after only 12 episodes -- it wasn't anything special. With a solid cast like this, one would think NBC would swap it around from night to night to see if it stuck, but obviously they felt it wasn't worth it.

So, the question is, how come the "Law & Order" franchise can't handle 3 spin-offs (4 including the soon to be canned "Conviction")? Simply put they're on NBC, the least watched major network. On the other channel, CBS is king of the world and "CSI" is their golden egg that launched not only the two spin-offs but made other shows like "Without a Trace" smei-popular. Even Friday night programs like "Numbers" has done well where "Trial by Jury" did not (during the same time slot).



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

As per the modus operandi for Universal TV-DVD releases, they don't provide much in terms of features. There's a little more here than in the "Magnum, PI" or "Quantum Leap" sets, so that is a plus. Of course, since those two had NO special features what-so-ever, that's not saying much...

Deleted Scenes - There are only a handful of them and most aren't that great. I noticed a few that feature Neuwirth making analogies (one such analogy about the goat in Jurassic Park).

A Different Look at "Law & Order" - Basic behind-the-scenes look at the newest spin-off as the cast explains how this one is different from the other three. We also get comments from the late Jerry Orbach talking about the progression of his character; plus the cast remembers Orbach and how great it was, albeit short, to work with him.

Not really a special feature, but Universal wisely includes the "SVU" cross-over episode, "Night" guest starring Spider-Man 2's Alfred Molina and Angela Lansbury of "Murder She Wrote" fame.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Picture: Having never watched the show when they originally aired, I don't know how they were presented, but the DVD has it in standard full screen. I've said it before, but unlike feature films, I don't mind TV shows being full frame as that is how they were filmed and aired. However, I have noticed the other "L&O" shows are now in widescreen. In any case, the picture itself looks fine though it seemed a bit darker than the others...

Sound: Nothing profound in the sound department, just the regular Dolby Digital 5.1, which was perfectly fine for any fan of this series... This isn't a show with explosions, just deep thinking dialogue and heated cross-examination.



.::OVERALL::.

Although "Law & Order: Trial by Jury" ended at only 12 episodes, it seems that NBC maybe didn't give it a shot since the franchise has given them some decent ratings over the year (but I acknowledge that it's a "what have you done for me lately" industry). For fans of the courtroom drama, you might give this one a shot as it does feature some good performances and interesting cases (and a different look at them).