Law & Order

Season 20 Episode 1

Memo From The Dark Side

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Sep 25, 2009 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (10)

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out of 10
66 votes
  • Crossed The Line

    For years we seen Law & Order and its spinoffs lean left with its bias but this episode really crossed the line. They wrote this episode and aired it when Obama is in office knowing very well he will endorse it.
  • Brave, great writing, great story, great acting!

    I'm not sure how anyone could call this episode mediocre. I have seen season premieres of five other shows so far this week, and none have been as brave and timely as this. As a matter of fact, this show was head and shoulders above anything else being put out on any network or cable.

    I call this episode brave, because we live in a time where it is inappropriate to question our leadership when "national security" is "at stake". But I think this show brought to the fore two very important facts. One: torture is an ineffective means of defending our country. By torturing our prisoners, we are not only stooping to their level as terrorists, we are giving them ammunition against us. What better recruitment tool do those who oppose us have than our abhorrent behavior. Second: the fact that the powers that be state that national security is "at stake" should not be accepted blindly. They have used this as an excuse to invade, murder and otherwise deprive others of their basic human rights - basically, the government should not be allowed to hide behind national security whenever it suits them. They should be held to a higher standard - it's why we elected them.

    This show has never been afraid to take chances, and this episode was no different.

    That being said, not only was the storyline incredible, the acting was amazing. Linus Roache is a fine actor, and his portrayal of a very conflicted Michael Cutter really allowed him to shine. It not only established him as his own person (not the mini-Jack I think there is a danger of making him out to be), but it also set the tone for future conflict between him and Jack. It has often been said that there is no one to reign Jack in now that Schiff and Branch are gone. Well, I think that will end up being Michael's role. Moreover, the stage for an oedipal-like conflict between Michael and Jack - Jack being the father figure from whom Michael seeks approval while at the same time seeking to surpass him professionally and personally - has been set. I cannot wait to see how this plays out over the season.

    And need I say anything about Sam Waterston. He is sheer greatness - an Atticus Finch for a new generation - cursed with the role of doing the job that others are too afraid or too indifferent to do. How Waterston manages to channel his inner Atticus without fail never ceases to amaze me!

    This was an episode about the Order part of the series, and that's okay. Oftentimes, the show spends far more time on the investigative side, and it's nice to see the prosecutorial side dominate an episode every now and then. The show has been reinvented and revitalized! It is, without a doubt, the best show on television right now. Tonight's episode just reminds us why this show has seen 19 seasons! Hopefully we'll see a lot more!
  • Left leaning Politics? On NBC? Really?

    Seriously this episode was nothing more then a left wing nut jobs dream about what should be done with the Bush admin. How sad is this, as if we don't see enough politics on the news now we have to watch on our favorite shows. Something tells me Liberal democrats are trying to subliminally get their message across. This show as lost at least one semi-loyal viewer. Here's hoping for the downfall of this show this season. Whats next a young couple face jail time for an undercover video of a innocent left leaning organisation? Or will they go after a radio show host who has a opinion show on a certain news network?

    Have a nice day.
  • One of Law and Order's finest hours. When a simple murder turns into a war on terror trial, Jack McCoy will keep on fighting.

    This is one of the finest episodes Law and Order has yet to create, and one of the bravest. In an unexpected twist, Jack McCoy goes after members of the Bush administration for their war crimes. Beautifully written and acted this one landed the original Law and Order back on the map. In recent years, I had begun to find Law and Order SVU quite a bit better. But the original Law and Order has made a comeback. And what a comeback it is. Full of surprises, none bigger than Lieutenant Van Buren's announcement that she has cancer. After an incredible 20 year run, the show has still got it all.
  • A 24-esque debate in New York City

    Regardless of my political leanings--which are irrelevant to this review, and so I don't feel compelled to share them--this was not my favorite episode of the series. I like episodes not for how intense or pot-stirring they are but for how interesting and sympathetic the characters and the story turn out to be. This episode felt as though it was written to stir controversy more than it was to tell an interesting story . . . or at least that was its end result, as judged by the plethora of reviews on that score either a 1 or a 10. Polarizing much?

    That said, I don't think the episode is as left-leaning as many assume at first watch. Yes, Jack McCoy is way out in politically left field, but Cutter and Rubirosa represent the conscience of many Americans who aren't sure where they stand on the use of torturous interrogation tactics by Americans. The diversity of perspectives among the characters in the show is what has kept me watching for the last 20 years. Law and Order shows time and again that the law and ethics are not as clear cut as we would like them to be.
  • bummer, they continue to ruin a once great show.

    Law & Order was one of my favorite shows until the writers decided to stop entertaining us and try to indoctrinate us. We will just make up crimes the news room can't prove but act as if they are real. News flash, Bush is not in office anymore! Get over it!
    It makes me sad that a once great show has allowed itself to become so blind to the fact that we do not turn on a show like Law & Order to get preached at.
    Let me know when this show goes back to it's roots and I will begin to watch it again.
  • Solid premiere.

    Law and Order is the kind of show that everybody can enjoy no matter how young or old. It just appeals to everybody, it is fast-moving, but realistic, entertaining, but informative. The episode started off a little slow, but in traditional Law and Order fashion returned to excitement by the end of the show. Jack McCoy went all Jack McCoy and proved why, despite being in his 60's, is one of the most feared men on television, forcing a government marshall to intervene on behalf of the defense to save the war criminal.

    Linus Roache's closing argument was great as well though.
  • Possibly the best Law & Order episode of all time...

    This was a fantastic episode. It started out regularly, with the murder of a drug dealer in a university parking garage. The drug dealer was a former US soldier who suffered from PTSD. The case very quickly turns to a professor of Law at the university. But all the evidence against him is thrown out. McCoy decides to go after him for writing a memo for the Bush Administration allowing torture. The final verdict is never read though, because a Fed judge supersedes the prosecution.

    This episode has an incredible flow and pace to it. It pushes just the right buttons, and asks the right questions. The drama and energy are seamless, and the acting superb, and the writing flawless and poetic. This is is high quality television! It was thought provoking, sophisticated drama, unlike 99% of TV today. This truly is a marvel!
  • Message show -John C. Yoo, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft & Bush should all be prosecuted for war crimes! UCB should fire John Yoo.

    John Yoo should not be allowed to teach at UC Berkeley's law school (and probably earning a high 6 figure salary, a housing allowance, summer research, and a ton of other perks)-- he has broken the law and should not be allowed to teach others to break the law. This (not so subtle) stand in for him is what sparks off the legal debate.

    Usually I don't like "ripped from the headlines" stuff. But I think the show did a good job of exploring the issue.

    I realize we do need to look forward & work on universal healthcare and fix the economy with more regulation. But we also have to hold those accountable who thought it was ok to invade a country on false pretenses and then parse words & meanings until they made it SEEM legal to do torture. Otherwise they will have gotten away with it and it will be allowed to happen again.

    The show presented it's argument pretty well. I liked that they gave historial context (we prosecuted Japanese soldiers who waterboarded US soldiers) and tried to counter some of the Bush admin's arguments about the fact that they're not really POWs so it's ok (the revolutionary war POWs could've been enemy combatants). They also countered the fear-mongering (well what if your city was threatened() with FACTS (torture still would not get you good results).

    Some of the issues around Ethics & Legality are explored fairly well. Torture is both immoral AND illegal.

    This is the best episode of I've seen in years (and probably in the top ten of the entire series!) Great start!

    P.S. UC Berkeley is in the middle of a terrible financial crisis, laying off hundreds of good people, not hiring any new professors -- and yet they continue to pay John Yoo. That is really upsetting to me.
  • Oh that Jack McCoy

    While not my favorite episode- it does answer the question of 'how can you outdo yourself after taking down the governor?'

    This may very well be the final season of Law and Order- so I'm very happy that they are pulling out all the stops. It's so joyous to see Cutter warning McCoy that he could well lose his job and watch him shrug it off. When he loses the case, he smirks because atleast he was able to make some waves- what a classic character. I don't think L&O is going to fare well in this time slot, but if it goes out, atleast, it has one of the best casts it's had in years. Even when prosecuting the former administration for crimes against humanity- it's still a more convincing drama than much of its competition.