Watching Law & Order UK is like walking into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that you heartily praise before realizing that it's part of a chain. But that doesn't undermine its quality (completely), right? Anyway, Law & Order UK is already in its 3rd season across the pond, and even though it started airing on BBC America only a few weeks ago, a review is a bit tardy, no? Here instead are a few reasons why the Brit show manages to be more successful (you know, in terms of content, not longevity, money earned, or other series spawned, like the one here) than the one we stuck with for 18 seasons (though seriously, cancellation? Fo' real NBC, girl still had a few more gos in her, at least).
The Case of UK vs. USA:
Exhibit A: Ben Daniels
The Daniel Craig look-a-like plays ADA (or Senior Crown Prosecutor, as it's known over there, ah!) James Steel, so his attraction is much more palpable than Sam Waterston's ever was--man looked old and overworked in the first season, and his tryst with the first assistant lawyer-lady (Jill Hennessy) was not even something you could justify with a heap of daddy issues.
Exhibit B: Jamie Bamber
He looks like this. Haven't looked through episode guides for the next seasons, but got my fingers crossed for an storyline that requires some reconnaissance work in shirtless jail/feisty drug-inundated gay bar.
Exhibit C: Freema Agyeman
She's black, not maybe half Mexican like one or two of the other assistant lawyer-ladies were. That may not be a lot, but it establishes a hell of a lot more diversity in the first season than L&O stateside did when it debuted that maybe half Lebanese assistant lawyer-lady in the fifth-or-something season.
Exhibit D: They wear wigs
Not always, but sometimes! They're barristers, after all. They stand and swear to the Queen before the start of trials and wear black robes with collarless shirts--giggle, giggle!
Exhibit E: CCTV
Ok, in all honesty, when they bring up "CCTV," it totally sounds like Big Brother, but for the purposes of a cop/legal drama, it's such a great plot device! It stands for "Closed-circuit television" and what I gather from watching the first 3 episodes, they're security cameras that are all over the city. Yeah, maybe prompts a few moral grumbles in the stomach, but works for evidence!
Exhibit F: British English
No lie, I miss every few lines/words/sounds (it's hard to tell moans and sighs apart sometimes), but it fuels the mystery! Like, "So if Danny was home all night, then he couldn't have been [indecipherable] while his mum was at the haberdashery, twiddling with [her boyfriend?] over tea!" Uh-oh, I think I know where this series of reasonable deductions are going....
Exhibit G: British things
When interviewing a Caribbean caretaker who doesn't speak English, veteran cop Ronnie Brooks (played by Bradley Walsh) breaks into French, much to the surprise of rookie cop Matt Devlin (previously yummily mentioned Jamie Bamber). So I guess, with the abundance of French-speaking immigrants, their go-to second language isn't Spanish, like it is here. Hmm, insightful!
Exhibit H: Good writing
Not much swelling music, reaching morals, declarative statements--I mean, yeah, there's a bit of that, but it's not distracting. Sometimes you have to lock away a foster kid with anger issues because he senselessly killed his mate. And that sucks, but it happens.
It's easy to give Law & Order (US) a hard time after nearly twenty years on the tube and with every "ripped-from-the-headline" story and A-list guest star making each show more and more unbearable, but it had its moments (I assume, it pre-dates my cognizant TV watching years). And now Law & Order UK has its time. So here-here, Law & Order UK, you just might compel me to walk into a small Qdoba and have me think it's "authentic."