Law & Order

Season 1 Episode 1

Prescription for Death

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



  • Trivia

    • When Greevey and Logan interview Dr. Abrahams at his apartment's terrace overlooking Riverside Park and the Hudson River, one can see the Soldiers and Sailors Monument for New Yorkers who died during the Civil War, a classical Greek architecture memorial.

    • Greevey reveals that in 1982, he hit his head on a radiator during a scuffle with a suspect. Initially they diagnosed a brain tumor, but a second diagnosis revealed that it was a subdural hematoma. Ever since he's been suspicious of doctors, feeling they believe that they are God.

    • Stone's father was an alcoholic, and drank every day at lunch.

    • Cragen reveals that back when he and Max were partners, he had a drinking problem. He didn't 'look or act' drunk, but he went to his first AA meeting after he found himself standing in Lexington Avenue with his gun pointed at a taxi driver because he 'didn't like the way he was honking' at him. Logan learns of this for the first time when Greevey uses Cragen's previous alcoholism as an example of how a drunk does not always look or act drunk.

    • Logan's father is alive and well thanks to a heart transplant he had in a hospital seven years prior to this episode. At the time of this episode, his character was dating a woman named Maggie.

  • Quotes

    • Philip Nevins: Isn't it possible that pneumonia killed Suzanne Morton?
      Medical Examiner: It's possible that death rays from Mars killed her. But I don't think so.

    • Dr. Edward Auster: You solve every case you work on?
      Mike Logan: We can tell a felony from a traffic ticket.
      Dr. Edward Auster: Look, a patient walks in with a headache. She could have a subarachnoid hemorrhage, a berry aneurysm, a retro-orbital tumor...or does she just have a headache? Do you give her an aspirin? Or do you saw open her skull?
      Max Greevey: You make this speech at funerals?

    • Dr. Edward Auster: Well, people like to believe that medicine is pure science. Medicine is a science. But doctors know it's also a lottery.

    • Dr. Raza: My children want to stay in this country, my wife wants to stay. And to stay, all I have to do is to be perfect all the time!
      Mike Logan: Well, you fell a little short of perfection on Suzanne Morton's chart.

    • Ben Stone: We got what we needed from Dr. Simonson.
      Dr. Edward Auster: An intern, Mr. Stone. Are you planning on asking the cleaning lady to testify, too? About the time I threw the tissue into the wastepaper basket and missed?

    • Ben Stone: You know the difference between Auster and a serial killer?
      Paul Robinette: The weapon.

    • Dr. Edward Auster: When you practice medicine, Mr. Stone, sometimes the patient dies.
      Ben Stone: And when you're a lawyer, Dr. Auster, some of the people you prosecute are convicted.

    • Max Greevey: I'm not saying all doctors are bad. 99% of them are solid pros. It's the rotten 1%, to quote our friend Auster, that make it a lottery. You bet your life.

  • Notes

    • The Law & Order: UK episode "The Wrong Man" is based on this episode.

    • German episode title: "Tödliche Cocktails", meaning "Deadly Cocktails".

    • Although this episode was presented first when the series aired on television, it was not the original pilot episode. Steven Hill appears in this episode as D.A. Adam Schiff, but was not actually part of the original cast and did not join the series until after the pilot.

    • The font used during all of the titles, credits and the on-screen scene descriptions is Friz Quadrata, created in 1965 by Swiss designer Ernst Friz.

    • The distinctive clunking sound effect that is used between scenes was actually created by combining a number of different sounds, including the sound made by a group of monks stamping on the floor.

    • The show's format was inspired, in part, by a much earlier series, Arrest and Trial, which was split into two parts -- the first focused on arresting the criminals, the second part on the trial. Law & Order was initially intended to be re-run in thirty minute segments, but the show's popularity allowed it to be run in the original one-hour format.

    • When the show began airing in re-runs on TNT, new digital technology was used to insert "product placements" (paid appearances of name-brand products) into the show. The easiest to spot is for Coca-Cola; any time you see a Coke can sitting on a desk, it has been added digitally.

    • Logan's memorable brown leather coat was actually purchased at a second-hand store by Chris Noth, and not by the wardrobe team.

  • Allusions

    • Receptionist: This ain't no letter to Dear Abby.
      Dear Abby is a syndicated newspaper column that was originally penned by Pauline Friedman Phillips (her twin sister, Esther Friedman Lederer, penned Ann Landers). In later years, Phillips was joined by her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who later became the sole voice of Dear Abby.

    • Max Greevey: I don't know if it was Gunga Din or Auster, but one of them screwed the pooch.

      Gunga Din is a poem by Rudyard Kipling about a native water-carrier who assists a British soldier. The reference in question is a rather crass comparison between Indian doctor Raza and the fictional Gunga Din. The term 'screwed the pooch' has been traced back to 1918, initially refered to as 'feeding the dog'. Although there are numerous meanings attributed to the phrase now, it generally refers to when one slacks off at their job, which can often lead to bad things happening.

    • Dr. Edward Auster: As a matter of fact, Conan Doyle modeled Sherlock Holmes on Dr. Joseph Bell.

      Dr. Joseph Bell was a Scottish lecturer considered to be a pioneer in forensic science as he was very good at identifying a subject's occupation and recent activities. Arthur Conan Doyle, famed for creating Sherlock Holmes and his partner Dr. Watson, had actually served as Bell's clerk for a period of time before he began writing about Sherlock Holmes.

    • This episode appears to be ripped from the headlines of the Libby Zion case. Zion was an 18-year-old woman who died six hours after being admitted to New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center with a high fever. A grand jury determined that the long hours of often unsupervised interns and residents contributed to her death. While an appeals court exonerated the doctors, the subsequent investigation led New York State to form the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on Emergency Services, more commonly known as the Bell Commission. This committee developed a series of regulations that addressed several patient care issues, including restraint usage, medication systems, and resident work hours. One aspect of these regulations is commonly referred to in the medical community as "the Libby Zion Law" and "the Libby Law," setting limits to working hours for medical "post graduates" (commonly referred to as interns and residents).