Law & Order: UK

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"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police who investigate crimes, and the Crown Prosecutors who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories."

Chung! Chung!

Spin-Off of Law & Order, set in the UK, specifically London (it had a Working Title of Law & Order: London). The first 13 episodes made have been split into two seasons as ITV asked for an early delivery (or possibly for financial reasons- as the episodes don't appear on their accounts until they've aired)- the second half have already aired in Canada. A further 13 have been ordered. Since October 2010 the series has aired for North American audiences on BBC America.

Thus far,[when?] each episode has been a remake of an episode of the original series, with the stories updated for the modern day and the UK legal system (a task the writers found harder than they'd thought- you can't chuck Felony Murder at people in the UK [1]). The episodes so far have been based on:

Season 1

  1. "Care" ("Cradle to Grave" [Season 2])
  2. "Unloved" ("Born Bad" [Season 4])
  3. "Vice" ("Working Mom" [Season 7])
  4. "Unsafe" ("American Dream" [Season 4])
  5. "Buried" ("...In Memory of" [Season 2])
  6. "Paradise" ("Heaven" [Season 2])
  7. "Alesha" ("Helpless" [Season 3])

Season 2

  1. "Samaritan" ("Manhood" [Season 3])
  2. "Hidden" ("Bitter Fruit" [Season 6])
  3. "Community Service" ("Volunteers" [Season 4])
  4. "Sacrifice" ("Sonata for Solo Organ" [Season 1])
  5. "Love and Loss" ("Consultation" [Season 3])
  6. "Honour Bound" ("Corruption" [Season 7])

Season 3

  1. "Broken" ("Killerz" [Season 10])
  2. "Hounded" ("Mad Dog" [Season 7])
  3. "Defence" ("Pro Se" [Season 6])
  4. "Confession" ("Bad Faith" [Season 5])
  5. "Survivor" ("Punked" [Season 9])
  6. "Masquerade" ("Good Girl" [Season 7])
  7. "Anonymous" ("Stalker" [Season 9])

Season 4

  1. "ID" ("Promises To Keep" [Season 3])
  2. "Denial" ("DNR" [season 10])
  3. "Shaken" ("Homesick" [season 6])
  4. "Duty of Care" ("Endurance" [season 11])
  5. "Help" ("We Like Mike" [season 8])
  6. Skeletons" ("Trophy" [season 7])

Season 5

  1. "The Wrong Man" ("Prescription for Death" [season 1])
  2. "Safe" ("Angel" [season 6])
  3. "Crush" ("Humiliation" [season 6])
  4. "Tick Tock" ("Hot Pursuit" [season 6])
  5. "Intent" ("Privileged" [season 5])
  6. "Deal" ("Slave" [season 6])

Season 6

  1. "Survivor's Guilt" ("Suicide Box" [season 13])
  2. "Immune" ("Double Down" [season 7])
  3. "Haunted" ("Ghosts" [season 16] )
  4. "Trial" ("Double Blind" [season 6])
  5. "Line Up" ("Performance" [season 5])
  6. "Dawn Till Dusk" ("Mayhem" [season 4])
  7. "Fault Lines" ("Just A Girl In The World" [season 20])

The "Law" includes Jamie Bamber (later replaced by Paul Nicholls) and Bradley Walsh as DS Ronnie Brooks (previously known for Coronation Street) Playing Against Type as a detective, and the "Order" includes Ben Daniels (now Dominic Rowan), Freema Agyeman, Peter Davison, and Bill Paterson.

The showrunner, by the way, is Chris Chibnall (of Torchwood).

Reading the section on British Coppers is recommended for international viewers.

Tropes used in Law & Order: UK include:
  • Actor Allusion: the dead baby in the first episode is found at the Royal Hope Hospital, the name of the hospital Martha Jones worked at in her first Doctor Who story "Smith and Jones".
    • A possible inversion in that same episode when Matt butchers the French language while trying to speak with a witness. In real life, Jamie Bamber speaks excellent French.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plothole: A mild case, as some of the changes between The Mothership and UK don't quite mesh with logic. For example: Steele's Batman Gambit in "Alesha" makes far less sense that it worked without the Smug Snake smirk of the defendant from "Helpless".
  • Amoral Attorney: "Limbo" Riley, because of how low he'll stoop.

George: "Just because you two used to do the headboard shuffle doesn't mean you have any insight into how she runs her defenses these days."

    • Phyllis Gladstone, a virtual Straw Feminist who uses nearly every anti-male Double Standard trope in defending her female clients. Then she defends Alesha's rapist and still tries to spin this as an example of championing women's rights, claiming that she's doing it on behalf of the real victims whom Alesha is supposedly mocking with her False Rape Accusation.
    • Miriam Pescatore
  • And Starring: Bill Paterson, head lawyer, gets the "And".
  • Berserk Button: Ronnie, for Matt. He freaks out if Ronnie's threatened.
    • He has a very similar reaction (along with the rest of the team) to anything happening to Alesha. Oddly enough, in her case, his Berserk Button is just as evident in his visible struggle to NOT freak out.
      • *And* (understandably, given both his explicit and implicit backstory), Matt's third Berserk Button is abused children.
      • "I been that kid, Ronnie."
    • And as tragically seen in "Deals" and "Survivor's Guilt", Matt, for Ronnie.

(from "Confession": "God forbid Matty here got himself shot, I'd be out there straight away trying to find out who did it and string him up myself.")

    • DI Natalie Chandler doesn't tolerate screw-ups from her detectives--or anyone else criticizing them.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition/Retirony: Plays the first trope straight while simultaneously brutally subverting the second. At the end of "Deal", Ronnie gushes to Matt about the birth of his grandson and the possibility of reconciling with his daughter. Minutes later. . .it's Matt who's been shot.
  • Blood From the Mouth: Matt, in the episode "Deals."
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Defense counsel Jason Peters, an obsessive-compulsive germophobe who's never lost a case.
  • Crossover: John Munch hasn't turned up. Yet.[when?] And while the London setting is a bit out of the way for the New York-based Special Victims Unit and Major Case Squad, it's almost definitely going to happen at some point. One of the creators joked that it's a contractual obligation for Richard Belzer to appear in every Law & Order series.
  • Darker and Edgier: Occasionally, the show will take a Mothership script and give it a darker, less-sympathetic spin:
    • "Defence" - The defendant in "Pro Se" was portrayed far more sympathetically; less trying to duck the consequences of his actions as clinging to a chance to do what he was trained to do and angry at the mental disease that led him to those acts. The defendant in "Defence" showed an utter lack of remorse for any of his actions and treated the whole thing like he'd smashed someone's window.
    • "Safe" - in the original ("Angel"), the defendant was a disturbed woman who killed her infant daughter because she believed she'd be better off dead and in heaven than with her. In "Safe", the mother was a self-centered dullard who let her boyfriend abuse her son and killed him rather than let Child Services take the child (or hand him over to his biological father).
    • "Confession". The Pedophile Priest in the original episode "Bad Faith" was a pathetic loser who did nothing but make excuses for his behavior and try to blame everyone else for his actions. His counterpart in "Confession" was even worse--a menacing figure who alternated between showing absolutely no remorse for his crimes or smugly denying them outright, knowing that 25 years later he could still intimidate his former, now adult victims into keeping quiet.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • The victim in "Vice" turns out to have been an Asshole Victim--he was blackmailing his killer for sex in exchange for not arresting her nor revealing her secret life as a prostitute. (it's implied that he'd done this to other women).
    • "Samaritan": The homophobic cop who did nothing to help his dying colleague because he disapproved of his sexual orientation.
    • "Honor Bound": Jimmy Valentine, who is revealed to have been working for a local drug dealer, going so far as to steal evidence and murder a potential witness on his orders. Adding insult to injury, when he's arrested, he tries to implicate Ronnie as payback.
  • Expy: You can clearly see the similarities between these characters and the ones from the American series.
    • Brooks is clearly Lennie Briscoe, but less snarky.
    • Also, Devlin is obviously Mike Logan
    • Natalie is easily Anita Van Buren.
    • George (and now Henry)= Adam Schiff.
    • James Steel was not-quite-as-obviously Ben Stone (with Jack McCoy's personal life).
    • Even some of the minor characters get this. For example, there are a lot of similarities between Phyllis Gladstone and Danielle Melnick, and a shrink the team often consults with bears a resemblance to Elizabeth Olivet.
  • False Rape Accusation:
    • Subverted with the killer is "Vice", who was being blackmailed for sex by the victim, but her claims that she killed him in self-defense when he tried to rape her outright prove untrue.
    • Alesha is accused of making this by her assailant's defense lawyer.
    • The killer in "Masquerade" claims the victim drugged and assaulted her (in a story that bears an eerie similarity to Alesha's) and that she killed him in self-defense. It turns out she was in a panic over his insistence on telling her parents about their relationship and concocted the story to avoid her bigoted father's wrath. As evidence indicating this surfaces, Alesha ironically expresses the same viewpoint as her assailant's attorney--that women who lie about rape make things harder for the genuine victims.
  • Hello, Attorney!: The Junior Crown Prosecutor is played by Freema "Even The Girls Want Her" Agyeman. It's a shame that solicitor-advocates[2] are not required to to wear wigs in court, though she's been wearing it in several episodes as of late.
    • British porn is weird.
    • James Steel, Jacob Thorne, and a handful of the defense attorneys easily count as well.
  • Heroic BSOD: Poor Ronnie is clearly in the throes of this at the beginning of "Survivor's Guilt", as evidenced by his stunned, shell-shocked expression and demeanor and his feeble, futile attempts to react like a police officer--"I was first on the scene"--rather than someone who just watched his partner/friend/surrogate son get shot and in all likelihood, die right in front of him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice / Taking the Bullet: Matt protecting Alesha and the young witness in their case from a hail of gunfire, taking two bullets that would otherwise have struck them.
  • Honor Before Reason: In "Samaritan" Ronnie insists on investigating the report that a police officer did nothing to aide his dying colleague, despite Matt's angry, steadfast refusal to believe it. The feelings are reversed in the aptly titled "Honor Bound", where it's Matt who insists on investigating an officer's murky account of a shooting, while Ronnie refuses to believe that his friend could be corrupt. In each case, with the evidence mounting, each man reluctantly concedes that the other is right and follows protocol.
  • Hope Spot: there are occasions where the CPS look almost certain to gain a conviction but fall short (for example, "Alesha"). Some episodes zig-zag the trope to get Justice by Other Legal Means (e.g. "Alesha", "Love and Loss"). "Broken" inverts it when the CPS are trying to get a ten-year-old girl for manslaughter by diminished responsibility, but the press latch onto the case and demand a murder conviction, which happens instead.
  • Initialism's The Same: In America, CPS is Child Protection Services while in the UK it means Crown Prosecution Service.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison/Saying Too Much: During the prosecution of an accused rapist, the key witness is a young woman who had noticed him lurking about her apartment building (and may very well have been the intended victim had she not evaded him). The man angrily denies ever seeing the girl before, calling her a liar and referring to her many tattoos before covering his mouth in horror as he realizes his mistake--although the young woman's arms were indeed covered with tattoos, she was wearing a jacket. The only way he could have known about her tattoos was if he had seen her previously.
  • It's Personal/One of Our Own:
    • "Vice": The victim turns out to have been a former police officer.
    • "Alesha": Infuriated at what's happened to her, the group basically pulls out all the stops to bring her rapist to justice.

Ronnie:" I ain't having some ponced-up Harley Street doctor thinking he can get away with this."

    • "Samaritan": Not only is the victim a cop, so is the person indirectly responsible for his death (he didn't shoot him, but refused to help him).
    • "Survivor's Guilt"
  • Justice by Other Legal Means: Lampshaded, and carried out, in Season 2. Subverted in Season 1, when Alesha's rapist is accquited of the charges regarding her, but they are able to nail him for assaulting other women.
  • Lighter and Softer: Many of the UK scripts have been altered to be less cynical or have more sympathetic defendants.
    • For example, the bored housewife prostitute from "Working Mom" became a housewife who turned to prostitution to save her business and marriage in "Vice", the gang of cops who set up a gay officer in "Manhood" became a single homophobic cop who was intentionally slow to help in "Samaritan", and the unrepentant Complete Monster serial rapist of 12 women from "Mad Dog" became the victim of dreadful childhood abuse who essentially inevitably became a rapist himself and seemed horrified by his actions in "Hounded".
    • The Asshole Victims tend to be watered down as well. For example, the victim in "Humiliation" was a drug-addicted streetwalker who was blackmailing a customer eventually arrested for her murder. In "Crush", she's an immigrant who resorted to working for an escort service in order to make ends meet and was hoping that her life would turn out like the plot of Pretty Woman.
    • Some episodes even combine these tropes:
      • "Survivor": In the original "Punked", a woman was given a harsh sentence for a minor drug crime that she may even have been innocent of and Abby is completely unsympathetic to her situation. In "Survivor", the woman was undeniably guilty of drug trafficking and received the standard sentence, yet refuses to take any responsibility for her actions and insists on blaming Alesha--who is portrayed as merely doing her job--for what happened to her and rebuffs her attempts to help.
      • "Survivor's Guilt": In the original ("Suicide Box") the perp was a young boy lashing out at the police for botching, then burying, his brother's murder. There, not only did circumstances pile up to increase the sympathy factor, the cop he shot was an unknown character who survived with just an injured arm. The perp in "Guilt" was an adult actively gunning for cops and his victim was a beloved character who perished. But many of the same mitigating factors were ported over from "Suicide Box" (The missing body, the botched investigation) along with the alleged killer being strongly implied to be lying about the murder for street cred.
  • London Town: Despite being suffixed with "UK", it takes place solely in London. The working title of the series was Law & Order: London.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Matt is gunned down by a young man seeking revenge against the police for bungling the investigation into his brother's murder, a screw-up he believes was racially motivated. But rather than one of the cops who did botch the investigation, or the actual killer himself, he shoots someone who wasn't a bigot, had nothing to do with the investigation in question, and if anything would have done everything possible to solve the case--claiming "all cops are the same", the same prejudice he accused the police of. What's worse, his actions can neither bring his brother back nor make him feel better about his death--they've just caused even more pain and misery for everyone involved.
  • Not His Sled: A nearly Recycled Script (even admitted so in the credits) had a major shift from the original story in the second half, when something that was a civil matter in New York was a criminal matter in London.
  • Not Proven: "Samaritan" ends this way.
  • Pedophile Priest: Father Nugent in "Confession". Zig-zags between a screed against the Catholic Church as a whole and a portrayal of the Church as well-intentioned-but-legally-wrong. Not coincidentally aired less than a fortnight after the Pope's state visit to Britain.
  • Recursive Import: Has begun airing on BBC America.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: As with all Law & Order series, but the third season opener, "Broken" (much like the original Law & Order episode that it was based on) is a particularly blatant replica of both the Jamie Bulger case, right down to the infamous CCTV footage of the killers leading the little boy away, and the Mary Bell case from the 60s with the names changed right down to the Enfant Terrible girl carving her initials onto the victim, and the 13-year-old sidekick who ended up a Karma Houdini and not going to prison.
    • However, there was one major difference. In Real Life the victims family’s were unhappy with the little sociopath's light sentence for cold blooded murder and her accomplice got off completely. On the show though the victim’s mother argued that her son’s murderess should not be punished and just needed rehabilitation and acted like her sentence (the same as the real Mary Bell) was too harsh. Needless to say the victims’ families were not happy with the change.
  • Short Run in Peru: Episodes 8 to 13 had already aired in Canada.
  • Shout-Out: Chandler has a TARDIS on her desk. (Or maybe she just likes old fashioned Police Call Boxes? Nah, I don't believe it either.)
  • Sound Effects Bleep (in America): "Tit" (not even referring to breasts, just "Don't make me look like a tit") gets bleeped while "bull/shit" gets a pass?
    • Not to mention DI Chandler saying she'd like to "cut (the suspect's) dick off and ram it down his throat!" in "Alesha" went through.
  • Spin-Off: of the Law & Order franchise, of course.
  • Sting: Yep, all present and correct.
  • That One Case: A few of the characters have had this (James, Ronnie). Unlike most examples, the case in question has been solved and put to rest, only for new evidence to surface years later indicating that the person convicted may be innocent.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs:
    • The gangster Don Marsh expresses his contempt for the law in many ways, including addressing DS Brooks by his Christian name. Brooks will have none of it, insisting:

Brooks: That's "Detective Sergeant Brooks" to you.

    • Ronnie gets a similar moment on Matt's behalf when Dirty Cop Jimmy Valentine indicates similar contempt for *him*:

Valentine: "This boy of yours, Devlin--"
Brooks: DS Devlin, you mean?

    • In yet another scene, he and Matt interrogate another cop whom they suspect of being on the take. When she expresses reluctance about testifying against Valentine, he very pointedly refers to her by her "Detective Sergeant" title to remind her of her duty.
    • Phyllis Gladstone refers to Alesha as Jacob's assistant and insinuates that it's only a matter of time before she's sleeping with him. Alesha doesn't appreciate either implication:

Gladstone: You'll fall for him eventually. All his assistants do.
Alesha: When I see his "assistant", I'll be sure to warn her.

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