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I was sorry to hear that the original Law & Order has been canceled by NBC just as it was about to break the record set by “Gunsmoke” as the longest-running live action television series. I can’t help feeling that there have already been so many episodes of the original and its many spin-offs that (a) at any given moment, there is one on cable somewhere and (b) no single person will ever find the time to see all of them. But cancellation of the original means that there will only be one left that is shot in New York. And for me, the greatest pleasure of the show is seeing so many fine East Coast actors. It has been many years since I have read the actor biographies in a theater program without finding at least two or three of them have listed “Law and Order” in their credits. NPR’s wonderful Monkey See blog has a post about the famous actors who appeared on the show and its offshoots early in their careers, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Claire Danes, Amanda Peet, and Lauren Ambrose. Some of my favorites have shown up, too, including Bobby Cannavale, Samuel L. Jackson, John Ritter, Cynthia Nixon, Ludacris, and Martin Short. And I loved Michael Kinsley’s piece on Slate about the challenges of loving women who watch (but don’t necessarily love) “Law & Order.”I look forward to watching re-runs for many years and discovering early performances from more future stars. In the meantime, as the ultimate proof of the show’s impact on our culture, here’s an affectionate tribute from “Sesame Street.”
Pioneering animators The Quay brothers created this breathtaking short film for the BBC, which rejected it. That just makes it even more fun to watch.
The New Yorker has a fine article by music critic Alex Ross about soundtrack composer Michael Giacchino, who won an Oscar for his lilting but wistful score for “Up” and who also writes the evocative music for the television series, “Lost.” But even better is the podcast interview with New Yorker Out Loud editor Blake Eskin, because Ross talks about the evolution of movie soundtracks over the decades, from the lush orchestral scores composed by European emigres like Erich Wolfgang Korngold during the 1940’s to the jazz-influenced scores of the 1950’s that first acquainted mainstream audiences with music they were not yet ready to listen to on records or in clubs. And he illustrates his points with great examples that make you want to go back to see the movies all over again — or, I should say, listen to them all over again.
Here is Korngold writing for “The Adventures of Robin Hood.”
And here is Duke Ellington’s score for “Anatomy of a Murder.”
I share Ross’ disappointment with today’s over-reliance on pop songs to carry the emotion of the story but was glad to hear that he thinks that fully-orchestrated scores will make a comeback. As he points out, “Star Wars” would not have had nearly the mythic power without the unforgettable soundtrack from John Williams.