Law & Order

Season 1 Episode 1

Prescription for Death

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Sep 13, 1990 on NBC

Episode Fan Reviews (6)

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  • Law & Order - How It All Began

    "Prescription For Death", although not the true pilot episode for the Law & Order series, it was indeed the first one I watched. In this episode, we are introduced to a young woman who dies under fishy circumstances at the Urban Medical Center ER in New York City. She was only admitted for something minor (a prescription for antibiotics). Her father, present at the time of her death (and former Vietnam vet), demands an investigation of the hospital staff. This is where we meet Det. Sgt Max Greevey (George Dzundza) and Det. Mike Logan (Chris Noth). Their investigation leads them to the well revered Dr. Edward Auster (Paul Sparer), and try to link his alcohol addiction and medical decision that proved fatal for the young woman. A great episode that started it all.
  • The First Episode of L&O

    This is the premiere episode of "Law & Order",but it's not the pilot. I was filmed around the spring of 1990. I can tell beacuse of the trees growing in one scene. Anyway,Greevey and Logan are on the case after a woman dies in the E.R.In one scene,they question one doctor who Iooks familiar. He's actor Rocky Carroll who later star on "Roc" on FOX. In another scene Greevey tells his partner what the doctor said. And in one scene in the courtroom,an ADA asks this guy on the stand who killed her and he responded "The death rays from Mars killed her",which was LOL.Even the courtroom laughed like it was a sitcom. It was a good episode. I like the original theme song and the leather coat Logan be wearing.
  • The first episode of Law & Episode (following the pilot, which is "Everybody's Favorite Bagman") is a sterling example of the show's strengths. (SPOILERS)

    Ah, the first season of Law & Order. I became a fan of this show in its 5th season, and this episode was re-run one night. This was one of the first of the Ben Stone-era that I ever saw, though offhand I can't quite recall where (perhaps NBC, perhaps A&E). From the opening moments, though, I was hooked and running with the momentum, the show held me rapt in attention for the next 45 minutes. The plot concerns the police investigating potential foul play at a hospital that resulted in a woman's death. The trail eventually leads to a chief cardiologist at the hospital, who is nationally renowned and one of the leading exemplars of his field.

    "Prescription for Death" was wisely selected as a premiere episode because of its features. It is not as laden with emotional complexity and controversy as other issues that would be covered in this landmark series. No, comparatively, this is a simpler tale of "the good guy(s) versus the bad guy", but these can be just as riveting and entertaining to watch as well. This episode serves mainly as a strong introduction to the show's central characters, who convey to us the sense that while they are human with their own individual foibles, they are likeable, decent people who conduct their jobs with integrity. We are rooting for their pursuit the entire time. In contrast, the bad guy is clearly a dangerous figure and we heave a sigh of relief when he is finally brought to justice in the end.

    The show's trademarks are all apparent here. Right from the start, we get a great teaser in the opening minutes, with a hospital death, the suspicious behaviors of the staff, and the outraged reaction of the dead girl's father (incidentally, played by a pre-white hair'd John Spencer, future star of The West Wing). We get oblique 'leaks' of information about the main characters as the plot moves along--for example, that Greevey and Cragen used to be partners and that Cragen once had a drinking problem. We get the underlying themes of the story conveyed as a dialectic between Greevey and Logan. In this episode, those themes are: to what standards should the medical profession be held to in delivering care? What is the nature of trust and authority in the doctor-patient relationship? The dialogue is, as ever, sharp and alive--loaded with witty retorts, sarcasm, and biting intelligence. And this is countered at the end by another trademark common in the series: the delivering of an abrupt, understated ending that punches the viewer in the stomach with a quiet emotional wallop--the final shot of Greevey's devilish twinkle dissolving slowly into solemn sorrow at Stone's reveal says it all.

    And yet, despite being an emotionally 'cleaner' tale relative to other episodes in this groundbreaking series, "Prescription for Death" still manages to tell a sophisticated, complex story. On one level, the show casts a specific critique at the hierarchy and power structure inherent in the U.S. medical system. The doctors working under Auster, almost all of whom come off as more competent than he is, are nonetheless clearly afraid of the influence and power he has accumulated. He has the palpable ability to wreck their future careers, and this is perfectly captured in his stern glance. I showed this episode once to one of my best friends who is a physician, and she immediately related to it. She noted how one of her bosses (a likewise senior, likewise renowned physician) could get absent-minded about certain things from time to time, and while nothing even approaching the level of Auster, she was concerned about his forgetfulness, afraid it might be a liability for her somewhere down the road, and feeling the awkwardness of how to go about broaching this with him, a superior. More globally speaking, however, the characters of Auster and his staff are familiar to us all. We've all had experiences working under the ultra-successful, haughty, or narcissistic boss, one intoxicated by the glow of his/her past successes who no longer believes that he/she can make a mistake. Perhaps we've been in positions where we've had to compromise our own standards working under such a person. In viewing Auster, we get the impression of a once brilliant, industrious physician, whose fatal flaw was that over time--perhaps from the strain of running hospital staff or perhaps from the pressure of the expectations brought about by his prestige--his competence dissolved into mere arrogance and drinking. Though we cannot ultimately excuse the actions of him or the doctors who enabled him to wreak havoc, the episode is successful at conveying a complexity grounded within human actions. Auster and his staff are not cartoon monsters, but very real people, who could be only a stone's throw away, at a hospital near you.

    In sum, a great introduction to a landmark series. By the way, a little footnote about the medications in this episode. Phenelzine is a type of MAO Inhibitor. MAOIs are a certain class of antidepressants that are still prescribed, though less frequently nowadays relative to other classes of antidepressants because of their potentially bad interactions with other drugs (including some narcotics, such as meperidine, the other drug mentioned here) and certain foods.
  • Pilot to a classic hit show!

    From a classic tv show in the making the very
    First L&O the original ever! Despite the absence of the first DA Adam Scheff!
    The cops come and investigate the crime and arrest the suspects while the prosecutors then try them.
    Great acting as well as shot on locaction in NYC!
    Again great start to a classic tv show that would spawn two spin-offs successfully!
  • A girl comes to the E.R and she ends up dead all of the sudden. her father a retired medic from the Vietnam war, shouts Malpractice and demands an investigation.. that's a case for Det's.Logan and Greevey

    and so it begins.. Law & Order and it's 18 year old greatness.. everything felt so diferent during this episodes you could tell they were still trying to get the hang of it.. but it was still great the whole investigation about Malpractice and the doctor being drunk. at the end the victim received justice and the doctor confident that he could get away with it, ended up being wrong and in Jail! First win for our all star team of detectives!

    Great first episode for a great series! it makes me wish I would've found out about the show sooner.
  • The first episode of the successful Law and Order francise. Here the viewer gets a good look at police work and prosecution from arrest to trial. When a young woman dies in a hospital having only suffered a head cold, police investigate the

    I have caught the occasional Law and Order epsiode, but being someone who likes to watch a show from the first episode through, I never really followed it. But now that I have caught at least the first half of the first season, I know that this is a show I can't wait to see the next episode for. You can tell by the camera work and look of the video that this is a rough show from the beginning. That is not a problem because the substance of the show is the story and this first epsiode really grabbed attention. Getting to see the work that the detectives AND the prosecutors go through is very interesting. I like Noth alot, but I can't say the same about his partner. I find him too loud and crass. The prosecutors, on the other hand, make this show shine for me. Moriarty is the type of person I would expect to be a prosecutor. Intelligent and sharp, it is a great sight to see him in court. Most of the episodes have a little twist at the end, and this is no exception. So far, it is the best way to end the show yet, not only rewarding to the viewer, but also insightful about one of the characters. Overall, this was a great introductory episode.
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