You have to give it to Law And Order. This series has been running forever it seems, and it’s never lost it’s luster in all the years it’s been on NBC. There are several distinct eras of this long-running crime drama; based on the everchanging cast which this show features. Of all the casts this show has had, Season 4 featured the best. An ensemble cast which featured Jerry Orbach, Chris Noth, S. Epatha Merkerson, Michael Moriarty and Jill Hennessey fused together a season that switched from being focused on the grit of the NYC streets to a more well written, better balanced show.
In case you’ve had your TV off since the series debuted in 1990, Law And Order is an hour-long drama which breaks down between the detectives who investigate crime, and the district attorneys that try these cases. Prior to Season 4, the episodes which featured Dann Florek and George Dzundza were much more gritty and developed less in each episode. For this season, the episodes were relied on the production brilliance of Rene Balcer and the creative genius of Dick Wolf. Over the 22 episodes contained on Law And Order: The Fourth Year, there are several memorable episodes contained here. Probably the most compelling is “Volunteers”. This story details a case involving a savage beating a homeless, insane person takes in a neighborhood. Detective Logan (Noth) and Briscoe (Orbach) work methodically through the neighborhood and the homeless to discover the nature of this case, and to find why a homeless guy would have over $7,000 worth of deposits from a trust account. As is always the case, this leads to an arrest (albeit coming with some resistance from Assistant District Attorney Claire Kincaid (Hennessey). The arrest leads to spirited debate at the DA level, psychological analysis, and finally the court case to conclude this great episode (I won’t be a spoiler here)! In any event, this episode is representative of many of the great episodes here – gritty, rough, yet polished in their writing to the point that they are absolutely believable to the eye.
RATING – 9/10 – As a big fan of this series and it’s spinoffs since the very beginning, this era of the show (seasons 4-8) were by far the best it had to offer. The episodes here were a little before they began writing every episode from stories built “from the headlines”, The Fourth Year is compelling with each and every passing episode. Add to that 43 deleted scenes, and you will understand why this collection is such a great view. Excellent season.