Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and The Practice

Law And Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-    )
The Practice (1997-    )

   This just ticks me off so badly. Keeping track of what show is connected to what other shows is hard enough. Then you get one show with ties to a million ohter shows and it crosses over with another show which has ties to a bunch of shows and suddenly you have to merge these two things. That I don't mind. It's fun actually because even though it's a pain record keeping-wise, it's cool. So many shows all tied together. It's what this site is all about. But what stinks is finding out that that big "linking" crossover is crap because then you have to untangle all these shows you thought were connected and figure out what shows are really linked and which ones aren't. It's madness.<

   It is because making a mistake can be such a pain that I really try to triple confirm anything before I add it to the list. I try to see everything first hand. Short of that, I try to look into any crossover I haven't seen and try to find multiple confirmations that it is legit. If a zillion reputable sources say its good, hey, it usually is.


   That seemed to be exactly the case with Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and The Practice. I got an email from someone that said, "Hey, I just saw Ellanor Frutt from The Practice on Law And Order:SVU!!!" He gave me the episode, a plot description. It sounded solid. So I looked around online. I found it noted in episode guide sites, The Internet Movie Database... everywhere. I figure even though I hadn't seen it it must be legit. I added it to the list and figured since it was a Law And Order show I'd see it eventually and get the details. I mean, Law And Order shows are legally required to be airing on some cable channel 24 hours a day.

   Then some time later I get another email saying, "Dude, you're insane. I just saw the episode of SVU and there is no crossover there. It's bogus."

   Crap. Now I HAD to see the episode. I checked and found it was going to air again on the USA cable network soon and taped it. I watched it and nothing! No crossover. But I didn't write it off as false yet. Usually for the syndicated airings of a show they do cut scenes out to make room for more commercials. If Ellenor Frutt's appearance was some quick for fun throwaway moment they might have just lost it for syndication.

   I decided to keep looking. Shortly after that Law And Order: SVU's first season was released on DVD. Perfect. The episode was from the first season and the DVD would have to have the full uncut version of it. And it looked like a sure thing again: the DVD box actually hyped that one of the guest stars was The Practice's Camryn Manheim. It didn't say she was playing Ellenor Frutt but so what? The odds were she was.

    I buy the set. I watch the episode in question. No Camryn. Maybe it was another episode and everyone is just confused. I watch the whole season. Nothing. Now I would like to point out to you that watching the full first season of Special Victims Unit is pretty brutal. The show is about horrible sex crimnes to start with. But on top of that, that first season they hadn't gotten the show perfected yet. They hadn't figured out how to do the show without it being too bleak. Almost every episode is so bleak and downbeat that after watching just one episode you feel like you need a shower or to end it all.

   I mean, here's an example. The statute of limitations on a number of connected rape cases are about to expire. One of the victims who is clearly still deeply damaged from the rape forces the police to move and try to solve the case. We meet two other victims. Another of them is also still depressingly damaged. The third one is doing okay. Only the police realzie she knows who the rapist is. She has met him and discovered he has reformed andis an utterly changed and repentant man. So she won't tell them who he is. So the cops have to throw the rape victim in jail! Ugh! Then the cops find out there is a church that the rapist belongs to that likely has his personal info. Wanting to protect his privacy the church won't give the police the info. So the police have to go into the church past all the members of the church standing around blocking their way in protest over the violation of their church. Fun fun fun! But, oh wait, we're still not done. It turns out the attacks stopped because the rapist was actually sent to jail for another crime where, ironically, he was raped raped raped himself. Then police find out who he is and go to arrest him. When they finally get the guy and, hey, guess what? He's crippled and in a wheelchair! So two victims whose lives are ruined, another who has recovered but gets tossed in jail, violation of a church and a perpetrator who has repented having been raped and crippled goes to jail. All this in ONE episode. Well, happy endings all round then.

   So multiply that experience by 22 episodes and you get the idea. All that and still no sign of a crossover! No Camryn Manheim AT ALL!!! Even though the box says she's on the show! How can this be?

   I see two possibilities. First, it is still possible if unlikely that a crossover did in fact happen. It is possible that Law And Order: SVU did have Ellenor Frutt appear on the original NBC airing of the episode but that she had to then be cut from all further releases of the episode for legal reasons. Ellenor Frutt is a character created and liekly owned by David E. Kelley. It is possible that while the folks at SVU got permission to use Ellenor Frutt on the network airing that they were NOT given permission to use her in the syndicated version or any video release of the episode. But I have no solid proof this is the case or that she actually appeared at all.

   The second possibility is that this is all just a huge myth and that the crossover never happened. This is actually not too far fetched. Thanks to the web misinformation can spread as true info very quickly. I had a crossover lead once I knew was false. Several people sent me emails saying that Elliot Axlerod from St. Elsewhere appeared on Chicago Hope. I knew this was bull because Elliot Axlerod had been killed off befor St. Elsewhere ended. But you wouldn't know it from looking around the web. I found site after site that said it was true. Even the Internet Movie Database said it was true. Most folks really take the IMDB as a solid reliable source. And for the mosty part it is. But the bottom line is anyone can email them "facts" to add to their site and they can only do so much to verify it much like me. The fact was the actor who played Elliot Axlerod did appear on Chicago Hope coincidentally playing a very similar character also named Elliot. Yet when I searched the web I only found one old old article brried deep away that had the facts right. Every other site blew it.

   So check out how this would work. Lets say it was me. I think Ellenor Frutt was on SVU. I email episode guide sites, TV trivia sites and what have you telling them she was on the show. I even give elaborate details making it sound legit. Maybe I even think it is. So all these sites get this info. Most of them are home grown sites run by TV fans. In most cases its probably even just one of two people without tons of resources to triple check their facts. It sounds good, its interesting content so up it goes. So now I send IMDB the same info. They look into it. How? Well, they probably go to the same web sites that I just contacted who have put up my info as a verified fact. So the guy at IMDB says, well, it must be true and adds it into the IMDB.

   Here comes the really weird part. Like I said, many folks use the IMDB and assume it is 100% accurate. And not just Joe Blow surfing the internet. Check out most DVD's with extras and you'll see they use the IMDB as a source when listing actors filmographies. And if the people who create the extras use it, you know the folks working on packaging do to. So, back to the example at hand, I have managed to get this bad info into the IMDB. Now the guy who creates the packaging for the Law And Order DVDs is trying to write up a blurb for the back of the SVU box. He zips over to the IMDB to see who guest starred on season one, writes down everyone listed and throws them all into that blurb on the DVD box. Now because I've done such a good job of informing everyone online about this fake fact, even the people who make the show are actually listing it as being true. Crazy.

   The end result is despite everyone on the face of the net saying this crossover happened, the episode itself says otherwise. And that has to be the bottom line. If anyone out there has real incontrovertible proof that this crossover DID happen - I'm talking the scene in question on tape or a verifiable explanation of why it ain't on the DVD - please please please contact me. Otherwise, anyone reading this, please take this as an example and warning to not blindly believe every fact you read online. If you get a forwarded email reporting something as true, look into it a little before forwarding it on. A good example is the Paul Harvey review of The Passion Of The Christ that is going around that Paul Harvey didn't actually write. Do a Google on that and see how many results are people correcting this misinformation and how many are people perpetuating it.

   Okay, done yammering. You can go back out into the rest of the web. But in the words of Hill Street Blues' Sergeant Esterhaus, let's be careful out there.

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