Movies - TV
Every Law & Order Series, Ranked From Worst To Best
By SCOTT THOMAS
7. Trial By Jury
While stretching out a trial for a full episode is a worthy idea, “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” misses the mark by imitating its predecessor too heavily while supposedly striving for originality. Plus, due to Jerry Orbach’s battle with cancer, the show had to scale back the role of detective Lennie Briscoe, effectively losing the center of the team and the heart of the show.
6. True Crime
“Law & Order: True Crime” isn’t a bad show, but it only shines when Edie Falco is on screen as defense attorney Leslie Abramson — a role for which she later earned an Emmy nomination. The show fluctuates between hyper-specificity and broad strokes, between soap opera drama and prestige TV, and ultimately tries too many things that just don't work.
5. Los Angeles
“Law & Order: Los Angeles” premiered just as the original show was shuttered, and while the show was much hyped, sadly it was stale from the jump. The main team lacked chemistry, and larger stars were relegated to smaller roles. As the show went on, it started improving, and had it reached a second season, it could have become an institution like the original.
4. Organized Crime
The lofty ambition of “Law & Order: Organized Crime” — to merge the procedural world with action-packed drama — is admirable, but the show’s real draw is and always will be Christopher Meloni. Shifting Season 2’s focus to Meloni’s Elliot Stabler has made the show better by telling the story through the lens of an actor and character audiences love.
3. Criminal Intent
The “Law & Order” franchise makes stars, and the star of stars has to be Vincent D’Onofrio, whose iconic performance as the Sherlock-like lead detective Robert Goren was the beating heart of Criminal Intent. Goren’s bruised psyche was the program’s primary draw, turning the series into a more complicated comfort watch than the original.
2. Law & Order
With its narrow, rock-solid boundaries and lack of any kind of deviation, the long-lasting popularity of “Law & Order” is truly remarkable. It is in its methodical week-in-week-out toil and luminous rigidity that the genius of this show is born; “Law & Order” presents something so common with its reliable assemblage of characters that it becomes brilliant.
1. SVU
With SVU, the student becomes the master, and while it holds strong to the rigid framing of “Law & Order”, it makes room for long-form stories. The show has featured many multiple-episode storylines from an “Organized Crime” crossover, to plots inspired by real-world events, while delivering iconic characters and bringing difficult conversations to the mainstream.