Tuesday 29 March 2011

Law & Order: Fake People (otherwise known as characters)

            This will be a fairly quick one, as there are both too many and not enough characters named Richard. No doubt there have been several perps, victims, and sleazy defense attorneys named Richard throughout the existence of the many Law & Order shows. I have restrained myself from attempting to catalogue them all. I may have a weird obsession with the name Richard, but I am not insane. There are a couple of pseudo-prominent characters named Richard, though, so I’ll mention them.
            The first Richard is the son of Elliott Stabler, a detective on SVU. For a while Richard, also called both Dickie and Dick, is Stabler’s only son; later, Stabler and his wife have a late-in-life/we’re-not-actually-getting-divorced son, named after Elliott. Richard Stabler has a twin sister, Elizabeth, and the two of them appear briefly, as little kids, in an early SVU episode. Stabler is with them at a park, he loses sight of them for two seconds, they seem to be gone, and he nearly has a freak-out thinking his kids are being molested that very moment. They aren’t, but the scene clearly says, “Elliott is really invested in catching pedophiles because he has kids.” As if we really needed that; it’s a hallmark of Stabler that he mentions his general hatred of pedophiles and his great love of his kids in nearly every episode.
            Dickie doesn’t appear for years, until the season ten episode “Lunacy,” which features Richard “Dick” Finley, Stabler’s old mentor from the Marines and the guy after whom he named his son. Finley is played by guest star James Brolin, which naturally means he is the perp. Seriously, why is the famous guest star always the bad guy? I guess it’s because it’s a better role than “rape victim,” but it tends to take the suspense out of the mystery. If only real policing were that easy. Just hunt down the most famous person connected with your victim and book ‘em. You know they did it.
            Anyway, Finley is part of the space program and he’s a smooth, confident dude. In fact, he is so pimp-tastic he scores a date with Olivia, only to have it ruined when Stabler busts in to arrest him. Stabler figured it out thanks to his son, whose opportune appearance and sage teenage wisdom give Stabler an idea.
            Since Elliott named his son after Finley, he has Dickie (who admits to Olivia he prefers to be called “Dick”) stop by the station to say hello. Finley gives Dick a space program souvenir (a little rocket or something else vaguely phallic), and the Stablers go home. The Stabler men have some TV-style meaningful conversation on the trip back to Queens, and Dick tells Elliott that “people would kill for a chance to go into space.” Or something like that. And bam! Elliott realizes his old mentor has indeed killed so that he has a better chance of going into space. Snap! My favorite part of that TV-convo, though, came when Elliott was telling Dick about his younger days, mentioned something about when he got married, and Dick realizes his sister was born pretty soon thereafter. “You knock Mom up?!” he half stated, half asked. That’s got to be one of my favorite SVU lines ever.
            Dick’s main episode is the season eleven episode “Turmoil,” in which he has a recovering drug-addict best friend who gets murdered. Whoops, should have put a spoiler alert in there. Anyway, in this episode Dick is revealed to be struggling a bit in school and such, but it all works out in the end (aside from the dead friend). I must admit I kind of forget the details of this episode, I just remember thinking the Dick character in this episode didn’t totally add up with the more with-it Dick of the earlier, astronaut episode.
            That’s it for fake Dicks in Law & Order. I totally approve of Elliott having a kid named Richard, and I even more approve that the show tried to have it make sense by giving Stabler a mentor named Richard. Because you know Dick Wolf named Elliott’s son after himself. You just know it.

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