Conviction and Law And Order: Special Victims Unit

Conviction (2006)
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-    )
Type: Spin Off
Group 2

   I swear, Law And Order is the TV series equivalent of a tribble or a gremlin: damn thing has a built in imperative to reproduce. With three solid hit shows it just keeps trying to get a fourth hit up and running. There was reality show spin off Crime And Punishment, then there was Deadline, the sorta spin off about newspaper reporters. Then the straight up spin off Law And Order: Trial By Jury that actually did well in the ratings but was cancelled by NBC anyway.

   Which brings us to Conviction. Reality TV didn't work. Jumping from the legal system to news didn't work. Hell, even going back to using a more standard Law And Order formula didn't stick. What to do?

   Well the Law And Order folks did still have at least one things going for them. They had a whole bunch of sets. They had created a ton of court building sets for Trial By Jury just sitting there. Shame to let them go to waste. Might as well try another spin off that could make use of them. So it should be more about lawyers than about cops. But, again, what specifically to do?

   Okay... the original Law And Order had a very simple premise. First half of the show has the cops catching the bad guys (Law) and the second had the D.A.'s prosecuting them. All the shows that followed varied the formula a bit but they were consistent in keeping the focus on weekly self-contained stories and not getting into the private lives of the characters. Well, with more and more shows like 24 and Lost going with long ongoing plot... maybe they could go that way. They'd still do crime stories that you could watch in one sitting but also let you see the lives of their characters, follow their personal dramas week to week.

   What they came up with was Conviction, a drama that would follow the lives of young lawyers fresh out of law school working for the D.A.'s office. So you get the cool law cases, you get drama with youth appeal... sounds good. Even would make sense to cast attractive young people, which they did. I mean think about it. Serious law school grads wouldn't be schlubs. Law school is a highly competitive environment. It makes a sort of sense that these would be people honing not just their minds but all of their assets to a fine edge. Looking good and dressing well can only help. Makes sense to me. Anyway, regardless of if it makes sense or not, the show was cast with young attractive actors.

   The show had a promising start. The first episode had a new young lawyer causing the death of one of his bosses by accidentally revealing where he would be eating diner thus allowing the bad guy to put a hit on him.

   The hit worked well on a whole bunch of levels. Watching you do have to just think, wow, what would you do if you were the poor idiot who caused that? You can't help but putting yourself in his place. On another level, this show pulls off what a lot of other shows say they want to pull off. So many shows say they want to introduce a supposing regular character only to shock the audience by killing them off. I don't think it normally works. Either you can tell what character is going to die or the character killed is too peripheral so that it doesn't seem such a big shock. Or it's clear that the whole, "We always planned to kill him," line is actually a cover for ditching an actor for some other reason they'd rather not get into.

   But, again, this time it worked. They really set the character up to be the center of the show, the father figure. And then they just turn the whole concept of the show on its head before the end of the first episode. It also established a real gravity to the show.

   The show did have a good cast too. Earnest young lawyers each with their own problems. The young rich kid trying to do right by helping put away the bad guys, the young hot shot with the gambling problem and who was good with the ladies, even though he secretly was in love with the cute Irish girl-next-door he worked with. There was also the girl with the messed up home life who was also sleeping with her boss. And to provide a link to the rest of the Law And Order universe, the character of Alexandra Cabot moved on over from Law And Order: Special Victims Unit. Seems her character had been bumped up to head D.A.

   The flaw in the show though was that in trying to get into the lives of its characters the show went to much towards soap opera. Alexandra had previously been sleeping with her underling Jim Steele who was in turn now sleeping with HIS current underling Jessica Rossi. Some of that is okay but they went a little heavy on it. Okay, I buy that all the lawyers are good looking whereas on Law And Order people look more real world. I'll even buy into a little bit of soap if they do it right. But they went too Melrose Place in trying to really sex up the show in silly ways. It hit me first when Jim Steele had a scene with his girlfriend Jessica where they talk about work issue while in his bedroom. Look, I'll buy they would have a talk like that in the bedroom. But they just went out of their way to not just have them in the bedroom but really, uh, showing off the goods too. Never on Law And Order was I distracted from the plot by thinking, "Nice boobs on her. Wow, he must work out a lot to get six pack abs like that!" It seemed a little calculated but I thought, okay, I'll give ya that one.

   But then they went too far. Again it was a Jim Steele scene (Was the man named for his abs?). In a later episode, Jim Steele finds himself in an ethical dilemma. He thinks he might be prosecuting an innocent man. He is so worried he calls on Alexandra at her apartment in the middle of the night. Alexandra (who is pretty easy on the eyes) comes down to the lobby in a nightie and lacy robe to talk with him. Again, I'm watching this actress showing off the goods while doing this very serious scene. It was just odd. As I was watching it I realized, they staged this whole scene just to get a little T&A into it. I mean, he could call on her late at night and she could show up in a big heavy robe, he could have called her and had her come meet him at a coffee shop, they could have spoken on the phone with her under the covers. But no. She chooses to meet him in the lobby in something sexy so that we not only get to see her in the outfit but she even gets to make an entrance in it so the audience can get a reaaaal good look. And, hey, I likes me some T&A. But this was just so blatant and not at all in tune with what you expect from Law And Order.

   I guess the changes to the formula didn't fly for other folks as well because after a single short season Conviction became one more dead Law & Order tribble. Despite my complaints, I actually think that's a shame. The show did have a lot going on that did work. If the audience had stuck with it and the producers could have trimmed back on the blatant sexing up of things I think it could have worked. I did care about the characters when they came across as real people and not as cheesy sexy caricatures.

Other Law And Order: Special Victims Unit Crossover Links
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and Arrested Development
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and The Beat
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and Deadline
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and Homicide: Life On The Street
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and Law And Order
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and Law And Order: Criminal Intent
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and Law And Order: Trial By Jury
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and The Lone Gunmen
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and New York Undercover
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and The Wire
Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and The X-Files

Other Conviction Crossover Links
Conviction and Deadline

Click here to return to main Crossover List

Buy these shows on and support this site at the same time! Check out Conviction and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on DVD! Main Page/ Email Me