I could have sworn I'd rambled about Law & Order at some point. I'll certainly ramble about it in real life to any poor sucker who will listen. But since I apparently haven't done a formal ramble on it yet, today is the perfect day, it being the 27th anniversary of the first airing of the very first episode of the original Law & Order series.
I first got into Law & Order at age fifteen, when I was home alone during the summer and bored out of my mind and desperate for something to do. Like any teenager in the same situation, I ended up channel surfing, and I wound up on TNT, which airs quite a lot of Law & Order, and the rest is history.
My dad watches various other crime shows, mostly CSI: Miami and Numbers (which I think has a number in the title but I can't remember where) and a few others that I don't know the names of, but I never gravitated towards any of them like I did with Law & Order. If pressed for a reason on this, the first thing I can come up with is that Law & Order just feels more realistic. I know that they fudge things; every police procedural and legal drama in the world has to fudge some things. But take something like CSI: Miami. I can't watch that show without getting frustrated at all the things that are wrong. They fudge so many things so obviously that it's distracting. Law & Order, meanwhile, has a much more realistic style to it, so while it certainly isn't perfect in terms of accuracy, it's much less noticeable.
The characters are another big part of it for me. Of course Lennie Briscoe and Jack McCoy are classic characters and I love them. But more than that, it's the subtleties of their relationships to each other. Jack and Claire's relationship practically develops in the background, and yet it eventually becomes clear that they really care about each other. Lennie's relationship with one of his partners, Rey Curtis, starts out almost hostile, but by the end of the show he's nearly in tears when Curtis retires from the force. Mike Logan and Phil Cerreta have a very similar arc before that; they clash at first, but when Cerreta retires, Logan is distraught in his own way and becomes very resistant to his new partner, Lennie Briscoe...and the cycle continues. I could keep listing examples all day, but you probably get my point.
Now, I'm not just about the Mothership. Criminal Intent, for me, is mostly carried on the strength of the relationship between Goren and Eames, and something else I'll rant about to any poor sucker who will listen is the injustice of the two of them not getting together in the end. (At least there's fanfiction.) I gradually quit watching SVU after Christopher Meloni left the show, and the more recent seasons have been a bit too showy for me, but I'll still rewatch older episodes. Trial by Jury was short but sweet, and I wish we'd gotten to see more of those characters; I quite like Tracey Kibre in particular. I haven't gotten a chance to watch UK or Los Angeles yet, but they look good enough, so maybe I'll get around to it someday.
Perhaps you've gotten the point by now, but I love this franchise. I really do. I wish there was more merchandise for it available so that I could own some of it. I do actually own a couple of companion books, one of which I found at a thrift store on a family vacation to Tennessee and was very, very excited about when I bought it. I would love to own the complete Mothership box set one of these days, but it's really expensive and I am really poor. (I do own the Trial by Jury box set; I lucked out and got it for ten dollars on Amazon.)
I really do love Law & Order. This is a love ramble. I'm sorry you had to read this. It feels rambly even for me.