in the criminal justice system the people are represented…

I have an obsessive personality. When I like something, I don’t just like it, I LOVE it and am besotted by it until the end of time (or, at least, until I’ve found a new object of desire). Pink is my favorite color, so I own more pink swag than should be allowed (handbags! office supplies! shoes! scarves! clothing!) I even contemplated dying my dog pink (just like my hero Courtney Stodden)! Okay, that last bit is completely untrue. Maggie wouldn’t be able to sit still long enough for the dye to take root…

Point being is that I am generally not a casual fan…or anything. When I was a kid, I was OBSESSED with boy bands (NSYNC, BSB, 98*, etc.). I swore I’d be a devoted fan until the end of time. Embarrassing story: I used to sign all of my notes to my girlfriends “KTBSPA (keep the backstreet pride alive) and stay *NSYNC.” I’m sure the girls remember this (and don’t lie, you did it too!). I adore politics and watch hours upon hours of FoxNews & read the political rags religiously (I was probably the only 16 year old to list Donald Rumsfeld as the “person I’d most like to meet”). When I was growing up I didn’t just “like” the Babysitters Club: I wanted to be a member. Basically—I get addicted to things easily.

Besides politics & books, my longest running obsession has been with Law & Order. Any kind, any time. If it’s on, I’ll be watching (even if I’ve seen the episode at least six times, it doesn’t matter). It’s my favorite show of all time (I prefer the original, but any other kind will do in a pinch).

The only other person that’s as obsessed with the L&O franchise as myself is my mother, Mama D (Lee the D—my dad—also is a fan, but his tastes run more towards Mark Harmon & NCIS or Jack Bauer & 24). She, like me, prefers the original, but (also like me), will watch any and all forms of Law & Order if they are on television without complaint.

On a run to JoAnn Fabrics to buy more scrapbooking supplies (we’re hosting a scrapping party tomorrow!), we got into the discussion of our top ten favorite Law & Order characters of all time (all incantations).

Without further ado, the Disterhof-approved top 10 of Law & Order

10. Detective Cyrus Lupo (Jeremy Sisto) on Law & Order

I’ve loved Jeremy Sisto since I first saw him as the Cranberries lovin’, deep-voiced having, ‘rollin’ with the homies’ Elton from Clueless. Fast forward 10 years and he ended up as Ed Green’s newest partner on my favorite show. Lupo (or “Lupes” as he affectionately started to be called) was a breath of fresh air into the Law & Order franchise. Though really intense (he was the best foil for the more light-hearted Ed Green and later Kevin Bernard) but you actually bought him as a cop. Plus, look at how cute he was (is).

9. Dr. Emil Skoda (JK Simmons) Law & Order & SVU

The only recurring character on my list. Though the franchise has had other doctors (George Huang, Liz Olivet, Melinda Warner, etc.), Skoda is (in my opinion) the best. While Olivet had been personality-less and sort of meek, Skoda came in with tons of personality and didn’t let anyone walk all over him. Besides, he was Mr. Pancakes in “The Ladykillers”. What’s not to love?

8. ADA Abbie Carmichael (Angie Harmon) on Law & Order

Ah, our first lady on the list! And the first District Attorney! Though Jill Hennessy’s Claire Kincaid might have been more popular, I always liked Harmon’s Abbie Carmichael. She was a tough talking Texas Republican, completely out of place in the much more liberal Manhattan DA’s office. She was the first outspoken Republican on the show and never shied away from making her views be known. What I loved about Abbie was that she was tough without coming across as a total bitch AND they didn’t portray her as some ideologue that could only talk in right wing talking points. They made her smart & capable and (in my opinion) a VAST improvement over the snoozefest that was Mrs. Richard Gere (Carey Lowell).

7. Detectives John Munch & Fin Tutuola (Richard Belzer & Ice T) Law & Order: SVU

These two come as a package deal. While they are good apart, they are SO much better together (like peanut butter & jelly). Quite the odd couple, Fin’s a tough (& Republican!) former gangbanger and Munch is a neurotic (& super liberal!) thrice married former Baltimore homicide detective. They play off eachother really well and sometimes act like an old married couple rather than cop partners. I love their genuine friendship…and the endless mocking that comes along with it. And sometimes they even solve crimes.

6. Detective Mike Logan (Chris Noth) on Law & Order & Criminal Intent

Though some prefer him as Mr. Big, Chris Noth will forever be Mike Logan to me. That leather trench coat! The plaid ties! The flag pin! That HAIR! I loved Mike Logan as the younger (& more volatile) partner, especially to Lennie (by far my favorite cop duo of the franchise), but I LOVED seeing him get partnered with someone younger, thus forcing him to take on the more senior (and responsible) role. Some of my favorite episodes are Logan-centric: the one freshest in my mind is from the first season when he was investigating the death of a little girl due to abuse. Horrific subject matter but it was the first time the audience really got any sort of backstory about Logan (and we got to see his “I’m a tough guy-but really a softie at heart”).

5. EADA Mike Cutter (Linus Roache) on Law & Order & SVU

If I could marry Michael Cutter, I would. He was the last in the looooong line of Executive Assistant District Attorneys. But you know they do save the best for last, right? Since he was only on for a few seasons, he didn’t get nearly as much screen time as, say , Sam Waterson (but more on that later), but what he did get was pure gold. I loved the bat he kept in his office (a la Danny Kaffee from “A Few Good Men”) and his willingness to bend the rules whenever he needed to in order to win his case. Sometimes reckless, (umm, he did blackmail the Governor of New York), but always in the “pursuit of justice”. Besides, he’s so dreamy. If there was ever a fictional “Mr. Stacey”, this would be him.

4. Detective Olivia Benson (Marsika Hargitay) on Law & Order: SVU

Since I already opined previously about my love for Olivia Benson in an earlier post, I’ll simply say this: Olivia is kick ass. End.Of.Story.

3. ADA (and later DA) Jack McCoy (Sam Waterson) on Law & Order

Best.Distict.Attorney.EVER. Even though my love for Mike Cutter knows no bounds, Jack McCoy will always be my numba one stunna. Besides being on the show for a hundred years and getting tons of great stories, he was just an all-around interesting character. The son of a Chicago beat cop, McCoy became a prosecutor after a stint in the 60’s counter culture. Basically, he was a former hippie that ended up working for the man (and later, ended up BEING “the man”). Awesome. Besides giving kick ass opening and closing statements, he was always hilarious (sometimes without meaning to be) while questioning witnesses. Besides, with the exception of Abbie, all of his lady lawyer cohorts were terminally useless (Serena Southerland, I am looking directly at you) so he ended up doing the work of TWO people.

2. Detective Bobby Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio) on Law & Order: Criminal Intent 

Bobby Goren personifies creepy. By far the most INTERESTING character the franchise has ever (and probably WILL ever) seen. You’re not entirely sure if he’s crazy (schizophrenia DOES run in his family) or if he is, just in fact, smarter than you. Maybe a little bit of both. In Casa D, Bobby Goren is also known as “the smartest man alive” as he has an encyclopedic knowledge of, well, everything. Ancient Chinese religious customs? Done. Neurobiology? Of course. The writings of a colonial era Revolutionary? He probably has the boxed set. Point Blank: he knows everything and makes whomever he’s questioning completely uncomfortable so they end up confessing (especially when he does that scary little head tilt thing. Yikes bikes).

1. Detective Lennie Briscoe (Jerry Orbach) on Law & Order & Trial By Jury 

Lennie Briscoe. The name is completely synonymous with the phrase “Law & Order”. In a franchise that is so heavily focused on plot and really has little room (or care) for its characters backstories, Lennie Briscoe was the first to really change that. Besides actually being believable as a cop (sorry Jesse L. Martin, you are far more believable as a singer-dancer on Broadway), he was really LIKABLE. So much so that sometimes the perps that he arrested actually wanted to be buddies with him (and, seriously, who wouldn’t want to be buddies with Lennie). Besides making a cop in a police serial not just likable but lovable and funny, he also had some excellent heavier storylines—most notably when Claire Kincaid was killed by a drunk driver as she was driving him home. He was the perfect blend of rough-around-the-edges and warm and fuzzy. The show really felt his absence for the first few seasons after his departure…and the world is STILL feeling his absence after his death. For me, there will NEVER be a character as well-loved as Lennie Briscoe.

Honorable Mention

Fred Thompson! (as Arthur Branch).

I don’t really remember much of his time on “Law & Order” other than he was a Republican District Attorney in Manhattan and he replaced the snoozefest known as the Diane Wiest years. So that in itself was enough for me to like him. But mostly because I like Fred Thompson…and not actually for his politics. I just like him because in the two times I met him (briefly!) he was nothing but really sweet to me after I made a fool out of myself in front of him.

Time #1: Summer 2001 in Washington DC

He was still in the Senate and I was there, spending time as part of a program. I was on a tour of the Capitol Building where they took us down onto the Senate floor (you know, where the Senators actually come and go). I was wearing a pair of broken shoes (sue me, I was 16) and had stopped to fix the strap that had fallen. My group got way ahead of me and as I stood up to chase after them, I physically RAN into a large man. I looked up…and had no idea who he was. But I noticed a pin on his lapel, put two and two together and realized he was a Senator. I was horribly embarrassed (seriously, I just body checked a member of Congress—I was DYING) and began a sixteen-year-old-girl psychotic babble of “I’m-so-sorrys”. He just laughed at me, said it was ok, and called me “sugar” (which was very sweet. He probably realized that I was a teenaged tourist from the midwest in WAY over her head). I stumbled back to my group, wanting to die of shame. A few hours later, we were all sitting in some committee room, waiting to hear from our speaker—the esteemed Senator from Tennessee, Fred Dalton Thompson. I was wearing a bright fuchsia top (because, duh, what ELSE are you supposed to wear to the Capitol)…and lo and behold, the Senator came out and I realized it was the very same man that  I had run into hours earlier. I was sitting near the front (so I could hear every single word out of the speakers mouth!) so there was nowhere for me to hide. I hoped he wouldn’t remember…but he saw me and (true story!) winked at me. Awesome and embarrassing in equal parts.

Time #2: late 2007 in Columbus, OH

I’ll keep this short. This was when he was running for President & he was making the rounds of campaign stops. One of the guys I worked for was a BIG Thompson guy & was one of his people in Ohio. In one of my rare days at home, I went into the office and, long story short, I got kept at the front desk because (since I was on the road so much), they didn’t know who I was. The rest of my coworkers were already upstairs in the offices, leaving me by myself. I found myself standing in the elevator bank…with Fred Thompson sans any entourage (I had no idea where they were). I had a feeling he was probably going to go upstairs to meet with the rest of his team. So, in one of my shining moments, I looked to this guy—a former US Senator, a guy running for PRESIDENT…and the ONLY thing I could think of to say to him was “Senator! I LOVED you on ‘Law and Order’!” The minute I said it, I wanted to die. Luckily, Fred Thompson is not only a really nice guy, but a total gentleman. He politely chuckled and thanked me as I wanted to go and crawl into a hole and die. I’m STILL shaking my head over that one.

So there you have it. Any comments or debates are totally welcome.


2 thoughts on “in the criminal justice system the people are represented…

  1. …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” (Yes, I typed that from memory.)




    (My only regret is that B.D. Wong – aka “George Huang” – didn’t make the list. You should SEE my apartment during SVU marathons. If B.D. is listed in the credits, we’re 100% more likely to watch the episode.)

  2. A few points:
    – Long live Lennie Briscoe /tear
    – Lennie and Ed Green were my favorite cop-duo.
    – Serena = totally useless (PS – wtf with the parting lesbian shot as she was exiting the show)
    – Bobby Goren is my super-favorite, and it really bums me out that the franchise couldn’t get CI off the ground. CI is far more entertaining to me than the other franchises, bc of both Bobby (which I always say accented a la Nicole Wallace) and the more complex storylines

    Bobby Goren also brought us this:

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