A new organization or entity formed by a split from a larger one, such as a television series based on a pre-existing one.We are no stranger to spin-offs when it comes to television serials here in India. Some of our favorite serials and sit-coms are actually spin-offs. Frasier from Cheers, Xena: Warrior Princess from Hercules, Joey from Friends, Angel from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, American Idol from the British Pop Idol, Boston Legal from The Practice, Melrose Place from Beverly Hills 90210 etc. I even found out that my favorite show, The Simpsons, is actually a spin-off from an animated sketch series called The Tracy Ullman Show, and is currently the longest running spin-off in the history of Television.
Two of my favorite detective/crime investigation shows are “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “Law & Order: SVU”. In India, we get CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and its two spin-offs CSI: Miami and CSI: NY broadcasted (on AXN), but we get only Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (on StarWorld), which is a spin-off from the original Law & Order series (The other spin-offs from Law & Order are Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Trial by Jury which are also not aired here in India).
I guess if we want to compare these two great shows, we must first take a look at their respective Networks. It’s a case of the popular (and infamous) NBC – CBS rivalry in the US. Please do read my previous post about the various serials that we get here in India, and which Network they originally were broadcasted on. Law & Order by NBC is more or less in response to CBS’ popular CSI series.
Anyway, I think when it comes to air time here in India, CSI and its spin-offs are much more popular than Law & Order. But if you ask me, I would choose Law & Order: SVU any day over the CSI series, even though I love CSI.
Reasons why “Law & Order: SVU” rocks:
I never used to miss this show 3 years ago when it was aired on StarWorld. But after some time it was taken off the air and now recently had made its way back into the channel with an all new Season. Praise be the Almighty Lord for that.
What makes SVU stand out from the rest is the way the whole show proceeds: From crime scene investigation to Laboratory analysis to Court room case. I am a sucker for a good Court room drama. And most of the cases are not just about the simple “break a law – get tried – get jailed” open and shut cases. The show involved many complicated and controversial issues, where sometimes the guilty even gets away after managing to find a loop hole in the written law.
The show mainly concentrate on crimes involving sexual assaults like rape, minor sex, statutory rape, sex trafficking, abortions, artificial insemination, women’s right, sexual discrimination, prostitution, child custody battle, DNA analysis, behavior psychology, drugs abuse, hate crimes, gun control etc Although it’s usually a 50-50 crime-scene court-room drama, sometimes the percentage can shift on either side (like for example, the episode aired on StarWorld last Sunday was entirely a crime scene episode).
The cast of Law & Order: SVU are amazing too. The main detectives are Det. Elliot Stabler played excellently by Christopher Meloni (Inmate Chris Keller of “Oz”, regular guest appearance in “NYPD Blues”, “Homicide: Life on the street” and “Scrubs”, and was Julia Robert’s fiancé in “Runaway Bride”) and Det. Olivia Benson played by Mariska Hargitay (2005 Golden Globe winner for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, as well as 2004, 2005 and 2006 Emmy Award nominee, and 2004 Screen Actors Guild Award nominee for Lead Actress). Det. Stabler felt it is a moral responsibility to protect all people from sexual assaults especially since he had four children of his own, while Det. Benson was a child born out of a rape.
And then there’s the street-smart Mister Cool himself, Det. Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, perfectly portrayed by rapper and actor Ice-T. B.D.Wong played the role of FBI Agent Dr. George Huang, a forensic psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind (Trivia: His FBI Badge no. is 2317616, the same as that of Agent Dana Scully of The X-files ). Recently I’ve seen him done a lot of active field assignments, although his initial role was just to observe the body languages and behavior of suspects during their interrogation at the Station. The Medical Examiner is Dr. Melinda Warner, played by Tamara Tunie. Their Captain is Capt. Donald “Don” Cragen, played by Dann Florek. He played the same role from the original “Law & Order” series.
The ADA (Assistant District Attorney) is Casey Novak played by the oh so hot Diane Neal. She replaced ADA Alexandra “Alex” Cabot played by Stephanie March at Season 5 after she went into hiding (Witness Protection). The SVU that I used to watch 3 years ago featured Stephanie as the ADA and was disappointed a bit to find the change. But now I am really impressed with Diane Neal’s acting, and ofcourse her charm and beauty .
And last but not the least, the coolest of them all! He is no stranger to detective shows on television. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Richard Belzer, also known as Det. John Munch. Probably one of the most common faces in crime television, this guy is super ultra cool. Even though he hardly speaks in many SVU episodes, there’s always an air of mystery and coolness around him. He played the same character of Det. John Munch of Homicide: Life on the streets for 7 seasons before moving to SVU. And that’s not all. He appeared as the same Det. Munch in many other serials like the original Law & Order, The X-Files, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Arrested Development and The Beat.
Together, they make a fantastic team. I guess the only downside to this show is that it is a wee bit unrealistic. In Law & Order: SVU, every case goes to trial immediately and the trial is completed within a few days/weeks. In real life, however, not ever case goes to trial, nor does it take a few days/weeks to reach a verdict. But then, it’s a serial for Christ’s sake. Nobody’s gonna spend an entire year watching the same case go to trial every week . Kudos Dick Wolf. Continue creating/producing Law & Order: SVU. It totally rocks.
With the main theme in mind, this show rightfully begins each episode with a message:
In the criminal justice system, sexually-based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories....----------------------------------------
Television series spin-offs
Official site of “Law & Order: SVU” at nbc.com