Law & Order is a several series mega-franchise combining the lighthearted fun of police brutality with the entertaining pageantry of courtroom drama.
How does one sum up a 19 season bohemoth like Law & Order in a concise way? Perhaps: In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups. The police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories. [Doink, doink]
In truth Law & Order is a cautionary tale of the perils of living in New York City as all of its residents will at some point be brutally raped, murdered, dismembered, serial raped, serial murdered, or some combination of all of those things, only to be found by a jogger in Central Park (unless the victim IS a jogger in Central Park). At this point in the show the police show up to make acerbic death-puns (dude, that's totally the name of my new emo band!). Since there are only two detectives on the NYPD payroll at any given time you can currently expect Jesus and the comic relief from that Aaliyah/Jet Li movie that only six people saw. But previous detectives include but (after almost 20 damn years) are not limited to: Mr. Big; Jerry "I-Put-Baby-in-the-Corner" Orbach; Tom Collins (from Rent, not the Five-Minute-Mile-Guy or the drink); Dennis "I've-Looked-Exactly-the-Same-Since-Miami-Vice" Farina; and That Guy From The Sopranos.
Eventually the detectives follow the trail of clues to the
guest star murderer/rapist/dismemberer and manage to get them down to the station and possibly even arrest them. It's at that point that the show switches gears to courtroom drama and the lawyers come in to cock things up (unless of course the police have already done that), oh noes! Time for a Judge, DA, or defense attorney to yell at our heroes and leave them dejected and in search of more evidence. Finally either there is enogh evidence or there isn't, and they bad guy goes to jail or doesn't, just like real life. Just exactly like real life.
The first spin-off in the Law & Order Plot to become 90% of all programming, this show follows the same premise as The Flagship Show but with less murder and more rape and child molestation (to put that into terms Cracked readers will understand: Law & Order is to Bucholtz as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is to Brockway. In this senario Law & Order: Criminal Intent is Dan O'Brien).
This Law & Order Series is home to Hilarious Jew Richard Belzer, alleged rapper Ice-T, Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay, and Christopher Meloni as Detective Stabler the cop that makes us all wonder just how much one would have to fly off the handle to be kicked out of the NYPD (spoiler alert: it's a crap-ton!).
Currently airing on the USA Network (and by currently I mean there's a 70% chance if you turn on USA right now this is what's on) this show is basically the same as the previous two Law & Order shows but it's more Law and less Order. In fact, it's mostly Vincent D'Onofrio stooping and jacking around in order to trick people into confessing, usually with their lawyer totally standing there being useless. Jeff Goldblum has now also joined both the cast and the rediculousness making this the show with the weirdest cops since Cop Rock.
An attempted reality show, L&O:C&P followed the goings on at the DA's office in San Diego, CA for three summers and showed us all that real life is boring and usually totally unfair. There's nothing funny to say about that so I'll just link you to an article about surfing dogs.
Focusing on the thrilling preperation that goes into criminal trials, this incarnation of Law & Order never made it past its first season, basically dying with Law & Order veteran Jerry Orbach. The sets were then ruthlessly scavenged by network vultures and reused for the also cancelled spin-off Conviction.
I swear this exists, I'm not just making shit up.