The terrifying CCTV image of a toddler being led to his death haunts this episode of Law & Order UK which deals with the difficult and morally complex issue of children who kill. As a society, we are very unforgiving of child killers but if the killers themselves are only children, it begs the question - who really is responsible for the crime? With two children in the frame, each blaming the other, can forensic evidence prove who is guilty of strangling little Conor to death?
In an emotionally gut wrenching episode, George defies his superiors and instead takes instruction from the victim's mother who has a surprising point of view on the crime. Can the justice system, and ultimately the government, afford to be lenient?
It was erroneously reported, in part due to an ITV error, that the episode was based on the murder of toddler James Bulger in the U.K. seventeen years ago. It's a crime so horrific it was even reported on in the U.S. However, "Broken", draws more from the Mary Bell case and seems to use as source material from the Law & Order episode, "Killerz".
The British tabloid, The Sun, apparently tracked down James' mother for a response and started a controversy in regards to the plotline and ITV's motives.
As an American and someone who watches a lot of TV, I found the reaction to the episode's content, and presumed inspiration, surprising. The mothership, Law & Order ran on NBC for twenty years and has generated numerous spin-offs including the upcoming Law & Order: LA. All the series incorporated stories "ripped from the headlines". The slogan is even part of their adverting campaigns. It's common to have a murder or other terrible crime be a news headline and six months later (or less) be dramatized on TV.
Since The Sun's reporting - and I use the term "reporting" very loosely - Clickliverpool.com has posted about James's mothers attempts to eliminate "copycat" TV dramas and a Facebook page ha been started to boycott the episode.
At this point, with the premiere a week away and the campaign being small and unfocused, I'm not terribly concerned we won't see "Broken". However, it troubles me that the cast and crew of Law & Order: UK have put a lot of time and effort into the series and there is a slight possibility their work may not be seen or may be delayed in being seen. I sincerely doubt anyone involved with the show's production, including ITV (yes, I am defending ITV), had any intent to cause a family further pain or profit in any way from a child's murder. Many of those involved in Law & Order: UK have families themselves.
I do not feel a campaign is needed to ensure "Broken" airs next week, but if you've ever wanted to show your support for the series and share your positive thoughts with ITV, now may be a good time to do so. Feedback for ITV can be emailed to: email@example.com. You can also leave feedback at Channel Television at firstname.lastname@example.org. Channel Television is the Channel 3 broadcast licensee appointed by ITV to be responsible for the compliance of Law & Order: UK...I'm not entirely sure what that means.
For fans outside of the U.K., who presumably won't be able to watch the new episode next week, and particularly those of us in the U.S. where the first thirteen episodes still have not aired, you could take the opportunity to say how much you'd like to see the show in your part of the world, have purchased the DVDs, look forward to seeing more of the show, etc. Just remember, positivity will triumph over negativity with network executives. Really! :)
Now for some good news for fans in South Africa, Law & Order: UK will debut October 7th at 8:30 on Sony Entertainment Television, DStv Channel 113.
And, finally, unrelated to Law & Order: UK, but I keep forgetting to post the link, I found a site with a good price for the audio recording of 'Brideshead Revisited', featuring Jamie as Sebastian Flyte. Here's the description:
In 1944 Captain Charles Ryder travels with a company of soldiers to Brideshead. It's a place he's been to before, and one which serves as a potent reminder of the decadent and stylish lifestyle now destroyed by the austerity of the Second World War.
Evelyn Waugh's moving and nostalgic novel revisits a golden age, when Ryder was a student at Oxford in the 1920s and in thrall to the captivating but tragic Sebastian Flyte. As the story unfolds over the next two decades, Ryder traces his friendship with Sebastian and his involvement with the young man's aristocratic Catholic family - in particular Julia, the eldest Flyte daughter.
It's a good listen. Accept for Jamie's singing. He's apparently not perfect. ;)