Law & Order Organized Crime is the first TV series in memory to jump the shark in its debut episode. With Christoper Meloni back on the force as Det. Elliot Stabler and a cast of unknowns, the Dick Wolf Organization paints a picture of a NY Police department in metamorphosis. Stabler doesn’t evolve. He’s still the same rootin’ tootin’ unruly cop who may have been the height of TV fashion 20 years ago but who now is more like a potential feast for Internal Affairs when all he used to be was a snack.
The story pits Stabler against a mythic gang boss who wants to be the “Bezos of organized crime” by monopolizing the retail end of the business. The story is complicated by the death of Stabler’s wife and the tailspin into which he and one of his children are thrown.
Since most of the series is in the can but not previewed to us privileged characters who sometimes get advance looks as the plots thicken and thin, we can’t say if Stabler calms down in the next several episodes and goes on to do what this brand always did well: give us a nice package with the case solved in the 37 minutes not reserved for commercials in a 60-minute drama. But that doesn’t look like the direction in which it is heading.
The producers appear to be using the soap opera model in which you will catch the storyline even if you tune out for a few episodes. This does not work with prime time drama.