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Law & Order: The First Year

4.7 out of 5 stars 238 customer reviews

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(Nov 08, 2011)
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(Oct 15, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Law & Order is one of the most successful and critically acclaimed series in the history of television. For over a decade this Emmy Award-winning series has presented the investigation and prosecution of cases ripped straight from today's headlines.With a celebrated cast that includes Michael Moriarty (Along Came a Spider), George Dzundza (Basic Instinct), Chris Noth (Sex and the City), Richard Brooks (The Crow: City of Angels), Dann Florek (Law & Order: SVU) and Steven Hill (The Firm), and featuring such notable guest stars as John Spencer (The West Wing), Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), William H. Macy (Fargo), Gil Belows (Ally McBeal), Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Red Dragon) and Christine Baranski (Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas), Law & Order: The First Year is a must-have DVD collection.

From its gritty documentary look to its signature note-knocking "tching-tching" that signals scene changes, Law & Order was a groundbreaking cop show when it debuted in 1990. It has since earned Emmys for Best Dramatic Series and spun off satellite franchises, and reruns of the original series are as omnipresent in syndication as those of I Love Lucy. Devoted fans and those who came late to the series can catch it from the beginning with this six-disc set that contains all 22 episodes from the inaugural season.

Law & Order is television's most resilient series. It has survived wholesale changes to its ensemble. One of the secrets of the show's durability: its compelling structure. The first half of each hour-long episode is classic police procedural in which "Law," personified in the first season by partners Greevey (George Dzundza--and be sure to catch the interview segment with series creator Dick Wolfe to learn how to pronounce his name) and Mike Logan (Christopher Noth, the future "Mr. Big" on Sex and the City) investigate a crime and make an arrest. The second half chronicles the ensuing trial, as prosecuted by assistant district attorneys Ben Stone (Michael Moriarty) and Paul Robinette (Richard Brooks) under the supervision of Steven Hill's Adam Schiff (more feisty and animated here than in later seasons).

Law & Order is also distinguished by its superb writing. Several episodes take their inspiration from the headlines, including "By Hooker, By Crook" about a socialite-run call-girl ring, and "Indifference," which recalls the tragic Lisa Steinberg child abuse case. Others deal with such hot-button issues as abortion ("Life Choice") and AIDS ("The Reaper's Helper"). Another plus is the talent pool of character actors who lend their verisimilitude. Guest stars include Samuel L. Jackson and Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Violence of Summer"), The West Wing's John Spencer ("Prescription for Death"), Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon ("Subterranean Homeboy Blues"), and The Sopranos' Dominic Chianese ("Sonata for Stolen Organ"). --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

Disc 1:
  • The Creation of Law & Order
  • Preview of Law & Order Interactive Game

  • Product Details

    • Actors: George Dzundza, Chris Noth, Dann Florek, Michael Moriarty, Richard Brooks
    • Writers: Brad Markowitz, Nancy Miller, Carl Nelson, David Streever, Scott Tobin
    • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
    • Subtitles: French, Spanish
    • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
    • Number of discs: 6
    • Rated:
      Not Rated
    • Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: October 15, 2002
    • Run Time: 1044 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (238 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00005JLFV
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,601 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Law & Order: The First Year" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: DVD
    Law & Order now enters its 13th season on NBC. For all those years no one's been able to get it on commercial recording, save the 6-episode VHS set that came out in 1999. But this wasn't satisfactory to represent a show with so much history.
    Now you can get the first season of this hit drama on DVD! With its renewal through 2005, you'll probably be getting the "15th Year" on DVD soon. By then Law & Order will be the longest-running police show and second longest-running drama in the history of television.
    With season one you get the first appearance of Lorraine Toussaint as the infamous Shambala Green (Subterranean Homeboy Blues), both the CBS original pilot with Roy Thinnes (Everybody's Favorite Bagman) and the NBC pilot with Steven Hill (Prescription for Death), moving episodes (Indifference), and mainly the beginnings of a show that would become one of the most popular dramas of the 1990's.
    The original cast features George Dzundza as Sergeant Max Greevey, the amicable but strong lead detective, Chris Noth as Detective Mike Logan, Greevey's liberal and young partner, Dann Florek as Captain Don Cragen, the no-nonsense but humorous boss, Michael Moriarty as Executive A.D.A. Ben Stone, whose dispassionate prosecution has become a trademark, Richard Brooks as A.D.A. Paul Robinette, the passionate black Assistant under Stone, and Steven Hill as D.A. Adam Schiff. Only one phrase can describe Schiff: "You have no case. Make a deal."
    For me, this item is at the top of the wish list. If you like L&O, there's no passing this up!
    Comment 119 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    The first season of Law and Order lacks the bang-bang short attention span plot advances and twists of the later years, but more than makes up for it by deeper plots and better acting, along with some nice background. Unfortunately, the DVD quality isn't what it could be, which is why this is 4 stars and not 5.
    From season 3 or 4 on, the Law and Order formula came into full flower. Every 'donk-donk' signifies a quick advance in the plot as a year-long investigation and trial gets compressed in an hour, except for those delicious times when it reverses in a wild plot twist. Three spinoffs prove this works regardless of who is in the role. Season 1 isn't quite like that. For instance, it often meanders slowly, spending 4 or 5 minutes at the beginning actually witnessing the crime, having the cast walk down the street talking to each other rather than going from one interview to the next. (This actually gives some great background - you finally see the full precinct room and DAs office!) The slower pace even reflects in the way the guest stars seemly act - an L&O trademark is to have an interviewee continuing to do their job while the cops grill them. Not so here. No quick hot dog lunch for meetings between the Captain and the detectives. Logan even complains when someone doesn't give them their full attention!
    While not having the formula down means that action slows down, it allows for better acting and better plot development. The 'ripped from the headlines' aspect remains as large as it ever was, with the Mayflower Madam, Tawana Brawley claiming rape, the Lisa Steinberg child abuse case, and city council corruption along with several cop corruption cases. The difference is that because the actors aren't forced to move through hoops they actually get to perform.
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    Format: DVD
    If you like Law and Order and want to own the whole series, that is great. But if you watch on TNT and love Briscoe, Green, and McCoy, don't start here. This is not the show you know,

    It is also not the New York you know--if you are younger. 1990: a World Trade Center, a crack epidemic, a spray painted subway jungle, a yearly murder rate in the 100s, no cell phones, no internet. The bodega, not the Starbucks.

    This is the sometimes dark and violent city I lived in in 1990, and the one Detectives Mike Logan (Chris Noth) and Max Greevy (George Dzundna) patrol. The two old school cops scan this high crime city, working through each crime like casualties in an emergency room. Robert Chambers, Joel Steinberg, drive by shootings. These cops navigate through footwork and payphones.

    If you are older like me, you'll watch, still surprised at the slowness of communication, the use of paper files, all being local. How different 1990 was.

    Jack McCoy did not prosecute the crimes. He did not exist until 1994. His job was Ben Stone's, played by Michael Moriarty. Where McCoy may be zellous, Stone was earnest. He cared more about points of law, a thinker without McCoys killer ambition to win. McCoy could be your drinking partner. Stone was your professor.

    You may also get the feeling issues and legal points here are being over-explained. This is true by 2010 standards: but keep in mind, we are so much more sophisticated about law now no small part due to Law and Order. If you didn't understand a point, you could not just Google it. So the writing here is for a 1990 world

    This is a good show in and of itself, but it is a bit jarring when you hear no Lennie wisecrack, don't see Jack's next saber tooth attack.
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