Something is definitely going on with NBC’s Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Any fan of the Law and Order universe will know that the biggest difference between SVU and any of the other series is that it is completely character driven, almost to the point of nausea. While this has always been its strong suit, it’s beginning to feel like it’s more of an anchor than a sail. It’s never been clearer than this current season, as the plot devices used in each episode seem to be pulled from further and further out of left field.
The last episode “Perverted” saw Detective Benson become the prime suspect in a murder case. The lights in left field had never been brighter, especially considering the resolution that included new age science involving DNA and setting police work back twenty years. The majority of the episode was a disheveled Olivia disobeying orders in an effort to clear her name and Elliot going off the deep end trying to do just the same. The latter half sounds pretty standard but in its 11th season it is starting to get a bit tired. If the episode doesn’t employ some sort of strange device, such as Stabler spending time on solitary confinement, it was generally forgettable.
Let’s not forget about Stabler’s son, Richard, either. There’s definitely got to be some record setting for the fastest child to reach sixteen in a television show, or at least somewhere near the top. The fact that he’s a troubled father in regards to his children is not something that hasn’t been explored before. In fact it was unleashed in detail several seasons ago when his eldest daughter was on a drug binge. Recycling themes is never a good sign.
What are sorely missing are the episodes that focus on the other characters. Regardless of how much you love a particular character seeing them put through the ringer again and again just gets boring. The episodes where Ice-T’s character is the central figure rather than someone just reporting findings were always great: whether he was forced to work with a narcotics rookie or the baggage of his family being spread out over the course of a trial, things always stayed interesting without soaring off the deep end. Plus, everyone loves Munch, so why not start giving the character more airplay? As it stands, he’s seems like nothing more than a mouse potato as episodes develop.
Law and Order: Special Victims Unit used to be great, now it gives off the vibe that it’s just good. While it still remains the most popular of all of the Law and Order series, one can’t help but be reminded of what odd plot devices usually mean: a show that’s jumped the shark.