The original Law & Order (1990-2010) is one of my favorite television series of all time. I watch the reruns all the time (thanks to TNT, ION, and WE TV), and I recently started trying to figure out what my favorite pairing of detectives from the history of the series was. That sort of evolved into this listicle, 1 about what your favorite pairing of detectives from this classic police procedural says about you. If you disagree with me, that’s fine…even Jack McCoy and Adam Schiff disagreed occasionally.2
If Greevey (George Dzundza) and Logan (Chris Noth) are your favorite detective pairing, sorry, but it probably means you’re old. Greevey only lasted the first season (primarily because George Dzundza grew tired of commuting from LA to New York), and was killed off at the beginning of season two. If Greevey is one of your favorites, that means you probably gave up after the first season, which means you watched the first season…thus…old. That, or you long for the days before DNA, when police work was all about hunches.
Look, I love Paul Sorvino as much as the next guy…especially if that next guy is a guy who has listened to 100+ episodes of a podcast that breaks Goodfellas down minute by minute. Paul Sorvino, as Phil Cerreta, lasted two seasons, and there are some really good episodes in those seasons, but there are also a lot of really slow episodes. If these two are your favorite, then you’re probably a big fan of Neil Simon, because there is quite the “Odd Couple” vibe between the sober and by the book Cerreta, and the hot headed, brash, young Logan.
This is probably where a lot of you fall. This pairing was where the show found its footing, and is probably the one that most people think of first…especially if they watched the show as it aired. Even thought they’re not my favorite pairing, I will admit that Jerry Orbach and Chris Noth did have an undeniable chemistry. If this is your favorite pairing, you probably like a lot of things on this list: http://toomainstreamforme.weebly.com/ In other words, you’re super mainstream. Not necessarily a bad thing, but also not very imaginative. Just go enjoy your Coca-Cola and the latest Justin Bieber song.
A fascinating pairing. With Logan’s departure, Briscoe got another young partner, Rey Curtis (Benjamin Bratt). Curtis was not the fiery tempered, young detective that Logan was, though. He did everything by the book, which, when combined with his Catholic upbringing and strong moral center, actually made him the more staid one in this particular pairing. Curtis may be the most complex detective in L&O history, and if this is your favorite pairing, I think that’s a strong way to describe you: complex.
The pairing of Briscoe and Ed Green (The Flash’s Jesse L. Martin) is a big one. With five years as a team, they were the longest tenured pairing of detectives, with Briscoe and Curtis coming in second with four seasons. They saw the show through the events of 9/11, and as a father in my early-20s who was not anywhere near New York, they, and the rest of the cast at that time, helped me process my feelings about that event, which they really had no choice but to react to, since New York City is such an important character in the show. Briscoe’s reveal that he’s going to lay in the sun, play golf, and maybe do some work for the DA’s office is one of those indelible tv moments that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. If this is your favorite pairing, you’re probably handsome, kind, generous, handsome, intelligent, handsome, fun to be around, and just a generally swell person. And handsome…did I say handsome?
Even though Joe Fontana (Dennis Farina) was older, and had more experience as a police officer, he never really seemed like the senior detective. After 5 seasons on the show, viewers had a strong relationship with Green, and there were times when Fontana’s style and demeanor rubbed us the wrong way. If this is your favorite pairing, you’re probably grinning about whatever horrible thing is happening to someone else right now.
When Ed Green was shot in season 15’s Tombstone (due to Jesse L. Martin taking some time off to shoot the film version of the musical Rent), Fontana needed a partner, so they brought in Michael Imperioli as Nick Falco. I don’t remember much about Falco, since he was only Fontana’s partner for four episodes…but I do remember that he came back the next season as the suspect in the murder of a woman who had gone home with him. If this is your favorite pairing, I’m not really sure what it says about you…but it ain’t good.
This is one of those pairings that I, personally, remember far more fondly than I ever thought I would. Ed Green’s new, younger, partner was not looked upon favorably by fans of the show. In the tradition of Mike Logan, Cassady (Milena Govich) was sarcastic, and had a temper that would cause her problems. The issue of her gender, was a hot button for most of her one season on the show, but one that was dealt with relatively well. Her exchanges with Lt. Van Buren throughout season 17 are extremely entertaining. If this is your favorite pairing, you’re probably no stranger to controversy, and you probably like it that way.
As Detective Lupo, Jeremy Sisto changed the energy of the show when he was brought on as Green’s new partner in season 18. His first case, an intensely personal investigation into the death of his brother, brought out a different side of Green, and, even though they would have their differences, he felt like a mentor to Lupo in the same way that Lennie Briscoe had to Green. If this is your favorite pairing, you probably like savory and sweet together. I know I do. Mmm…bacon and maple syrup…mmm.
Kevin Bernard (Black-ish’s Anthony Anderson) was promoted from IAB to homicide at the 27th precinct after investigating a shooting that Ed Green was involved in. Green left the 27, and Lupo got a new partner. As the final pairing in the show’s run, it was an interesting decision. Gone was the older cop/younger cop dynamic that had been in place for years, and in its place we had a pair of young-ish detectives trying to figure things out together. If this is your favorite pairing, it’s likely that you are a young upstart in your own right, or at least you were when the show went off the air.