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102 of 107 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2003
The first Law and Order Spinoff series, Law and Order: SVU is an often stark and depressing look into the most destructive crimes being committed today. This series offers an uncompromising look into the minds of some truly disturbing sex offenders and reminds us about what happens every day that we'd rather just ignore. Occasionally lurid and often brilliant, this show combines Law and Order's entertaining, 'ripped-from-the-headlines' storytelling while reminding its audience about what is casually glossed over in the news every night.
Although the original Law and Order was very much a story-driven show, this incarnation focused much more on the lives of the detectives on the Special Victims Unit. Christopher Meloni plays Detective Stabler, a family man who is very dedicated to his work. The fact that he has a wife and daughters makes him a very interesting character and adds to his movivation to get the job done, to get the bad guys off the street, so that it won't be his daughters being abused next. His partner, Detective Bensen, is played by Mariska Hargitay. She is in the work for different reasons. The fact that she herself was the product of a rape makes her also a very interesting character, as her motivations for being in the unit are very complicated. Richard Belser reprises his role from 'Homicide' as Detective John Munch, and he brings a lot of black humor to the show. It's just fun to watch him work, and Belser is a terriffic actor. His partner in the first year was Michelle Hurd, although she would later be supplanted by Ice-T. Hurd played a slightly off-kilter policewoman who wasn't quite prepared for the rigors of the job and was forced off the squad at year's end. Rounding out the cast was Dann Florek, reprising his role as Captain Cragen from the original Law and Order. I loved him in that series, and he is great here, too, walking the line between being tough and supportive with his detectives.
Although more emphasis was placed on the characters, this was still Law and Order, and that meant that the stories would have to be pretty darn good. And they were. The first season dealt with a plethora of sex abuses including rape, incest, child abuse, statutory rape, and more. Subsequent seasons would have a greater variety of story devices, but the first season was definitely a firm foundation for what turned out to be a fine series.
Bottom line: if you feel the need to be happy or uplifted after watching a program, this might not be for you. It is sad, haunting, and some of the stories will stick with you for a long time, much like the crimes it depicts. However, it has a ring of truth to it, it is still thrilling, and occasionally, we see an episode that really makes one think about a society which can produce such miscreants. Not a feel-good show at all, but an important one. Highly recommended.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on July 15, 2004
Dick Wolf masterminded another great spin-off from the Law & Order franchise with Law & Order SVU (originally titled Sex Crimes)which consistently now ranks in the top 20 shows. This DVD set is an exciting way to capture the beginnings of the series and to see how much growth has occurred in the writing and character development. The series manages to tackle a number of gripping sexually based subjects without being exploitative. In fact, the writing on this series is top-notch and never seems to grow stale or contrived.
As the intro to each episode states, the SVU, or Special Victims Unit, is in charge of particularly heinous crimes that are sexually based. Lead detectives are Benson (Mariska Hargitay) and Stabler (Christopher Meloni). Detective Munch (Richard Belzer) is paired first with Cassidy (Dean Winters) and later with Jefferies (Michelle Hurd). Ice-T doesn't become Munch's partner until season two. The entire group of detectives is commanded by Captain Don Cragen (Dann Florek).
As a previous viewer stated there are commercials at the beginning of disc one, but on that disc only. The set includes 22 full length episodes including the pilot for the series. Two featurettes are also on the final disc. Special Victims Unit: The Beginning features cast members and producers giving insight into the making of and success of the show. Dann Florek's Squad Room Walk Through clues us into life on the set and little tidbits about the squadroom such as the photo on Olivia's desk (that of Mariska's real mother, Jayne Mansfield with her two dogs Momsicle and Popsicle), the wanted pictures on the bulletin board (actually crew and office workers), the rationale behind props in Captain Cragen's office, and many more insider scoops.
If you're a fan of great writing and acting as well as cop shows, this is one set you can't miss. The fifth season of SVU is slated to be released on September 7th in time for the fall premiere of season six. After that, Universal is reportedly going to go back and release the other seasons in the actual order.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2003
Chances are that if you're thinking about buying this set, you've seen the show enough to judge the quality. The writing is top-notch, the acting is great, and the cases tend to strike an emotional chord within us who want to see sex offenders brought to justice. I won't bore you with an episode-by-episode rundown. The show is set up differently from regular Law & Order in that you actually get to know the characters from their private lives and why they react to certain crimes and criminals the way they do.
Now, the question you want answered is: Is it worth the money? The series alone is. It's highly entertaining and captivating. The special features are a little scarce, with only two good but short featurettes. In my opinion, ever dvd set of a television series should really go all out with the features. Let the public in on the process! Give us some outtakes and behind the scenes goodies. We know you have them! The show gets 5 stars, the set 4. Definitely worth the 40 bucks, but it would be nice to be let in on a little more.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2003
I started to watch this series on UK television this year. There was a huge advertising campaign and it worked on me - I sat down and watched the first episode.. and well I was hooked. I do not believe I have ever seen such a compelling series as this. As a Brit I am a huge fan of US drama series - I thought that ER would never be beaten for exhausting gritty realism - but I think I have found its equal. A bold and brave series it concentrates on the darker side of crime fighting - that of sex crimes. It required superior story lines and acting to get this series of the ground and running. Once again this debut series had both elements in abundance. The whole cast are excellent especially Hargitay and Meloni who bring a huge aray of emotions to the screen without excessive sentimentality. All the actors play vunerable characters - but their dedication and compassion to their work brings a sense of balance between the terrible crimes they investigate and the people they try to protect. Amazingly there is also a wonderful brand of humour which runs through the episodes which lightens the mood and adds further dimension to the characters and storylines. I am delighted that the first series has finally been brought out on DVD. It deserves to be seen, so do.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2004
Okay, okay, im biased rating this five stars because I've been a loyal watcher of it for awhile now; but I think anybody can appreciate the high quality acting, and DVD extras that this treat comes with. You get all 22 episodes in an awesome case, complete with 2 extras that provides you Actor's Commentary and behind-the-scenes action. No one can dispute the electricity that Meloni and Hargitay have working together. At some times thrilling, other times wittythe stories always touch a chord with me. I think, if you like this sort of thing, you will definetly consider it a worthy investment.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2004
The full year is here! I could watch all these episodes in one sitting. In defense of this set I shall point out that others are disturbed by 2 major factors: lack of features and the ads at the beginning. Well, there are a couple of interviews and a "making of" on the last disc. What other special featurse do you want? Nothing is really needed; the shows are all here. The ads in the beginning can not be skipped. They are reletively short anyway. Look at it this way: few commercials first, then four uncut episodes; or 15 minutes worth of commercials, plus one episode that is cut up for the commercials. The set is totally worth it for any SVU fan. Check out Christopher Meloni on OZ, those DVD sets are now available.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2003
I watch SVU for Richard Belzer's subtle, tragic-comic performance as John Munch. Unfortunately, in later years, the producers of SVU have written Munch off as a secondary character, when he should always be front and center. While other actors swagger and chew scenery, Belzer conveys Munch's compassion exquisitely and with subtlety. It's a performance that has been sadly underappreciated for many years through many series, except by the fans.
Ice-T's Fin is definitely is best ever partner, but Fin doesn't appear until the second season. Until then, we must deal with two weaker "partners" (no reflection on the actors, it's just clear the writers didn't know what to do with them), although at least we have the one year when Munch was in the spotlight as a character.
I don't find the quality of the release technically any worse than the usual grade of DVD season releases for other shows, though SVU deserves better.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2005
Nominated for 7 Emmys in its first five seasons, Law & Order SVU (Special Victims Unit) continues the success of NBC's blockbuster Law & Order franchise. The brainchild of Law & Order creator Dick Wolf (former writer for hit TV shows such as Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice), Law & Order SVU is filmed on location in New York City. It follows the traditional half-police drama/half-courtroom drama format that made its forerunner a smashing success, yet SVU focuses exclusively on sexually based offenses...

Law & Order SVU tells the story of a group of dedicated detectives who work for the elite group known as the Special Victims Unit. Capt. Donald Cragen (Dann Florek) heads up the unit which includes four regular detectives - Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni), Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), John Munch (Richard Belzer), and Odafin Tutuola (Ice-T). While investigating rapes, murders, and other vicious crimes, the detectives often consult with police psychologist Dr. George Huang (B.D. Wong) who provides special insight into the minds of suspected predators. Once the detectives gather the necessary evidence, they turn their case over to Assistant District Attorney Casey Novak (Diane Neal) who brokers deals and prosecutes the cases that put these nefarious criminals behind bars...

The Law & Order SVU (Season 1) DVD features a number of dramatic episodes including the series premiere "Payback" in which a cab driver is discovered stabbed to death with his genitals cut off. When detectives Stabler and Benson investigate, they find out that the man is a former soldier from the Serbo-Croatian conflict and that he was a rapist. Benson, a child of rape, is sympathetic to the actions of rape victims, and Stabler must keep her from crossing the line to protect the probable suspects... Other notable episodes from Season 1 include "Sophomore Jinx" in which a female college student's murder investigation is obstructed by the college when the SVU suspects a member(s) of the school basketball team, and "The Third Guy" in which an elderly woman is tied up and raped in her apartment, but the investigation takes a unique twist when the initial suspects are cleared and a new perpetrator enters the picture...

Below is a list of episodes included on the Law & Order SVU (Season 1) DVD:

Episode 1 (Payback)

Episode 2 (A Single Life)

Episode 3 (...Or Just Look Like One)

Episode 4 (Hysteria)

Episode 5 (Wanderlust)

Episode 6 (Sophomore Jinx)

Episode 7 (Uncivilized)

Episode 8 (Stalked)

Episode 9 (Stocks & Bondage)

Episode 10 (Closure)

Episode 11 (Bad Blood)

Episode 12 (Russian Love Poem)

Episode 13 (Disrobed)

Episode 14 (Limitations)

Episode 15 (Entitled)

Episode 16 (The Third Guy)

Episode 17 (Misleader)

Episode 18 (Chat Room)

Episode 19 (Contact)

Episode 20 (Remorse)

Episode 21 (Nocturne)

Episode 22 (Slaves)

The DVD Report
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2004
This show has impacted me enough to want to spend $50 on a boxed DVD set. I watch it every night and when I am not watching it, I'm studying it.
First of all, I love the first season, I must say. Mariska Hargitay looks absolutely beautiful as the empathic Detective Olivia Benson, a character I have fallen in love with. Christopher Meloni is nothing less than hot as Detective Elliot Stabler, and the chemistry between the two is absolutely extraordinary. They are what pull you in, whether you realize it or not.
Of course, Richard Belzer as John Munch is great - the character's dry sense of humor is fantastic, and he can sense a conspiracy in anything. There are quite a few people that I know of who, in part, watch the show because of him.
Michelle Hurd is a very strong actress as Monique Jeffries - I was very sad when she left - and Dean Winters did a good job during the duration of Brian Cassidy's too short stay.
The plotlines are compelling - you are left wondering how people can do such things, especially when they get away with it. There are many amazing episodes in this season especially - Stalked comes to mind immediately. As Liv is my favorite character, this episode really struck a chord with me. But I'm drawn to those types of plotlines as it is.
Overall, you can't go wrong with a cast like this. The chemistry between all of the characters - especially between Benson and Stabler - is overwhelmingly good sometimes. I really hope you take time to watch this season. The only complaint I have is the lack of the fantastic Stephanie March as ADA Alexandra Cabot - guess we'll have to wait for Season 2 for more of her.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2006
this show is the best thing on tv. hands down, end of discussion. and this is coming from a gilmore girls/friends/will and grace fanatic, so it really means a lot.

i am obsessed with MARISHKA HARGITAY, christoper meloni, and the whole cast. i LOVE THIS SHOW. honestly i just cant stress it. i cry when someone dies or when benson and stabler fight, i chuckle at the witty writing, and i cheer when the perp is caught. it's just phenomenal. i seriously can't explain how much i am obsessed with this show. just watch it.

oh my goodness this show is just the best. couldn't help but re-itterate that fact. it's just the best best best best best best best.
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