They’re canceling “Law & Order.” No lie: NBC announced Friday the original New York-based crime/judicial series is not being renewed for another season. The last episode will air May 24. That might not seem like big news compared to Greece falling off the financial cliff or a terrorist trying to bomb Times Square, but the show has been on 20 years and will end up tied with “Gunsmoke” for the longest-running TV series ever.
Of course, L&O is famous for its opening narration: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate but equally important groups …” blah, blah, blah by a voice-over actor named Steven Zirnkilton. It spawned spin-offs including “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” “Criminal Intent” ran on NBC its first six seasons before moving to cable. NBC has renewed “Special Victims Unit” for a 12th season.
Law & Order’s successful formula devoted half the hour-long show with cops investigating a heinous crime and the other half with the prosecution of the case. The show claimed its inspiration from real crimes, ripped from the headlines, and usually leaned to the political left whenever possible, reflecting executive producer Dick Wolf’s liberal preferences. Its passing is a big deal in TV Land.