This may take a little longer than most but it's been building for a while. Frankly, by the emotions this show arouses in me it confuses me. It might be more accurate to say I have a love-hate relation with it. Sometimes I'm one of its biggest fans, while at others it just plain makes me mad. I was a relative latecomer to SVU. I had watched a few episodes of the original Law and Order in the mid-90's and stopped because I found them generally too slow-paced. So when SVU started I wasn't interested. Then, around 2008, I decided to give some of the SVU episodes being rerun on USA a try, and was instantly captivated. However, after about thirty or forty shows I found myself becoming so infuriated by the detective's techniques that I stopped watching. But I kept remembering the good stuff about the series--crisp, innovative plots, uniformly above average acting, terrific guest stars ( most of whom could act circles around the regular cast ), a tight, well-oiled ensemble, and the writers' courage not to win every case. However, after dosing myself with another twenty or thirty episodes I found myself getting upset all over again. So you could say I've enjoyed/endured an on-again, off-again relationship with SVU. By now, after a herky-jerky viewing history I've seen pretty much every episode, most several times. My problem is with Benson and Stabler and their so-called police techniques. First, whenever they're handed a case, they tear off willy-nilly bullying and arresting about every third person they meet with little attention to things like evidence or due process of law. I guess they assume that if they arrest enough people they'll eventually get the actual criminal. They take great glee (almost orgasmic pleasure) in these arrests, especially if they can cause maximum embarrassment and damage to the suspect. (I always wonder what happens to all these people who are falsely arrested and lose jobs, kids, marriages, homes and their dignity because of it. I can only think of a couple times the detectives have actually gone back and apologized to these people whose lives they've ruined because of their jack-booted gestapo-like reckless disregard for proper police procedures and long string of wrongful arrests. (come to think of it, shouldn't detectives with their high percentage of false arrests be reassigned to desk jobs?) Next, when they get the perv down to the station house, Stabler inevitably unleashes his favorite weapon on the suspect--leaning down and positioning his face about six inches from the suspect's and telling them in a detailed narrative exactly what he thinks they did. Half the time he does this by shouting. (if a cop did that to me I'd accuse him of assault for spraying his spitt all over my face!) Another technique they use regularly is to threaten all reluctant or frightened witnesses with obstruction, contempt, accessory to, or the IRS. At least twice, I remember them threatening terrified aliens with deportation just to get their way. Frequently, they act without any real regard for the potential consequences of their actions. In the episode 'Persona', Olivia's strong-arming a victim ends up getting the victim killed and then inadvertently breaking up a happily married husband and wife of 34 years!Blatant lying is another common technique. In the 2008 episode 'trials', ADA Grelek actually deliberately made a suspect in a voice lineup alter his voice to match what the witness had described! Both the detectives and usually the ADA have no respect for those above them--routinely ignoring orders to stand-down or turn over a case, contemptuously ignoring their captain, the FBI, Internal Affairs, Immigration, the CIA, Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense. (Once, they even named the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in their elaborate little legal plot!) There are other little irritants too numerous to mention, of course, like Stabler, who must be in his forties and wearing dress shoes,, always being able to run down those suspects who take off--even the most fit and fleet-footed teenager wearing running shoes! Sometimes I think the show ought to be renamed Law and Order ATL--Above The Law! I always know it's time for a SVU vacation when I find myself starting to feel sympathy for the suspects. Anyhow, I must be the only one who feels these things, because the show has just been renewed for its 15th season. (I personally don't miss Stabler at all) Oh well, got to run, I've got to set my DVR to record the new episode Wednesday and the ten Law and Order SVU reruns this coming Sunday!
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