Deggans Hits New Yawk City and Muses on Law & Order's Coolest Cop Partners
I've just touched down in New York's JFK Airport, and my first thought is to crack open the laptop and get a fresh post on the blog. I'm awfully frightened about what that says about me.
I'm here for a conference hosted by Columbia University on how the media covers race -- they were dumb enough to put me on a panel about race and election coverage moderated by Ray Suarez -- but I've also got plans to hang out with Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi (who knew he grew up in Tampa?) and Rescue Me star Denis Leary. So the blog is going to take on a certain hard headed Gotham feel for the next few days, as I give you the early skinny on my exploits.
Yeah, it's cool these days to slag off NBC's creaky cop franchise, but the mothership has gotten more interesting than ever, with new additions Linus Roache and Jeremy Sisto. So, as Law and Order says goodbye to Jesse L. Martin's Ed Green -- read last week's tribute here -- we find NBC's 18-year-old cop drama preparing to welcome its 8th team of detectives in the show’s history.
So, before Anthony Anderson’s Kevin Bernard joins Jeremy Sisto’s Cyrus Lupo at 10 p.m. tonight, it’s worth remembering the series’ coolest cop team: Lennie Briscoe and Mike Logan.
A classic TV duo, onscreen and off, Jerry Orbach’s Lennie Briscoe was the weary veteran -- a reformed alcoholic whose acerbic worldview gave each episode the best one-liners in crime TV (my fave: “I specifically asked for him to be put on suicide watch. Apparently, here at Riker’s, that means that they watch you commit suicide.”)
Chris Noth’s Mike Logan was all impetuous anger and passion, eventually ushered off when he clocked a city councilman getting away with murder — as the wealthy often did on early L&O. On a show fanatically focused on story, they remain a percolating connection to personality — providing a street-level look at each week’s crime, and a laugh or two besides.
The Rest of Law & Order's Best Partnerships:
Lennie Briscoe and Ed Green (Orbach and Jesse L. Martin): Martin’s Ed Green brought an edgy energy as the junior detective with a gambling history and a grudge against authority. As Green grew to respect his Luddite partner with the ‘50s-era pompadour, we grew to respect him.
Max Greevey and Mike Logan (George Dzundza and Noth): L&O’s first police duo, this team was hobbled a bit by a testosterone-heavy cast – no females in the core lineup, which almost got them canceled by NBC – and an ambling storytelling style. Still, the beefy Dzundza had the most realistic physique of any Law & Order cop.
Elliot Stabler and Olivia Benson (Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay): Anchoring hit spin off Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, this pair produced the franchise’s first magnetic female cop and a team compelling enough to anchor the first L&O series to focus as much on characters as story.