Friday Forum: Law & Order: UK Discussion for Episode 3.1, "Broken" - Jamie Bamber News
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Friday Forum: Law & Order: UK Discussion for Episode 3.1, "Broken"

"Broken" written by Emilia di Girolamo

Over the years, I've steered clear of doing post episode discussions on the community. Mostly this was because, when it came to Battlestar Galactica, there were numerous communities, blogs and forums dedicated to the series and it seemed redundant to host another discussion here. But taking a quick look around the net, I didn't see much in the way of talk about last night's Law & Order: UK premiere. So, in case anyone would like to share their thoughts or chat about the episode, I figured I would open up the possibility here. If you'd like to see a weekly discussion post, please let me know. zegeekgirl and I would happily devote the next six Fridays to episode discussions if it spared us from having to put our thinking caps on for forum topics. ;)

My non-spoilery and brief review (I may ramble on later in comments ;) is I felt the new season/series got off to a very strong start last night. There was some controversy about "Broken" before it premiered, but the material was handled in an extremely thoughtful and sensitive manner. I also appreciated we were shown so many varied points of view in exploring the case and the ramifications for all involved. Often series will take sides and try to tell the viewer how to feel. In cases such as the one we saw unfold, there are no easy answers. Finally, Jamie was awesome. :)

For a brief review and recap of the episode, check out All Things Law & Order.

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29 comments or Leave a comment
jamie_girl5 From: jamie_girl5 Date: September 10th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I just finished to watch the episode and i'm disturbed about's very emotional, very well written by Emilia....right from the start (apart from Matt's joke "blimey, who's death?"...), you can feel the "heavy" atmosphere of the's intense, every characters involdes in the stories do a brilliant job in the acting, you can feel their emotions, what they could feel when they were filming it...
And Jamie's acting, waouh...never saw him acting like that....i wonder how he felt / what he thought when he was questionning the girl...He was just fraking awesome *blush*
Very very good start for this new season :-)
asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 03:15 am (UTC) (Link Me)
This would be a great episode to have a cast (and writer) commentary. Hopefully, there will be one on the DVD release.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: September 11th, 2010 04:40 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I'm pretty sure Emilia tweeted at some point that she was recording commentaries. w00t. (Of course, not sure which one, she wrote four in this series and the next!)
asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I'm not sure if she tweeted or Terry did, but I do recall a tweet regarding commentaries. That's probably a safe question to ask. ;)
pinkylilie From: pinkylilie Date: September 10th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
Yeah, totally agree....Very emotionnal, the actors, including the kids of course, made a wonderful job!! I love every character's modesty in front of this case...Such a difficult subject....I really love all ths episode but one scene troubled me and made me think : the dialogue between George and Connor's mother...she's really amazing on her speech...How do you react if your kid being killed by another kid? Revenge or justice doesn't bring her son back....the actress's job is really moving....
asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 02:35 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I can't be sure how I would react in the same situation (and I hope to never find out), but I would like to think I'd show mercy. The idea of locking a child away for decades and putting them in a prison with hardened criminals is just as horrific to me as their actions are.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: September 11th, 2010 04:42 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Absolutely. That's what makes this case particularly tough to take in the end, much more so than the other cases CPS lost in the first series. George spearheads a real effort to try and do what is best for Rose, but by that point the other circumstances had spiralled so far out of control that they couldn't get a jury to accept it. Tragic.
scifishipper From: scifishipper Date: September 10th, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
It was definitely a difficult episode to watch and I had to turn away a few times and took a long break about part way through. I have to say I was pretty blown away by the two mothers - incredibly well-acted. As a long time L&O franchise watcher (although have dropped off in the past two years), I like the UK version better for a few reasons: I think the minor character casting is much stronger, and I love that they let give the actors long monologues (not just the leads in court). I love that they show the human reaction to these crimes. Sometimes the police are a bit wooden in these shows and have a bit too much swagger for me. I adore the sensitivity of the writing here; there's a depth of emotion that draws me in and keeps me coming back for more. Very well done.
mlsky From: mlsky Date: September 10th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
*nods* Yes, this. I especially agree with this part: Sometimes the police are a bit wooden in these shows and have a bit too much swagger for me. I adore the sensitivity of the writing here; there's a depth of emotion that draws me in and keeps me coming back for more. Very well done.

For me, this is the biggest difference between the US and UK when watching procedurals. I'm not really sure why, but it seems like the emotional well is tapped into more across the pond.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I've watched the original Law & Order and Criminal Intent over the years (not so much SVU - it's hard for me to watch shows involving sex crimes with children, frequently, as the victims), and it struck me the UK version focuses more on the cast and humanizes them. Matt and Ronnie's pasts inform how they approach cases and interact with both the suspects and victims. I think back to when Benjamin Bratt was on L&O and we knew about Det. Curtis's wife struggle with MS and how it affected both his life and work. I need to care about the characters to really become attached to a series and this is the first L&O in the franchise where I find myself caring.
scifishipper From: scifishipper Date: September 11th, 2010 02:39 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Yes, it's a shame that the US versions don't take the time to write a bit more backstory. There was some of that with Goren on CI (whom I totally ADORED), but that storyline went downhill and, of course, became part of a case. I prefer that the backstory inform us about the characters, but not be front and center. People love rich and complex characters - it's a shame to watch excellent actors work with nothing. LOUK has impressed me unexpectedly. :)
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: September 11th, 2010 04:45 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Yeah, I do think that the brevity of each series in the UK as compared to a standard US season of over 20 episodes really ups the ante in terms of prioritizing the humanizing of the principles. Yes, generally it is still about the guest stars each week, but you have a lot more time to work with for squeezing in those cases that hit closer to home in the American L&O series - you can afford to do it less, on average. I love that L&O:UK seems to do it more and keeps us more invested as a result.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I'm glad UK networks have begun doing longer episode orders for series. I recently watched the third (and final, it seems) series of Kingdom and with only six episodes in which to cover a lot of material, it was an absolute mess. So many plot points were rushed and had ridiculous wrap ups. I think you really need to have a minimum of thirteen episodes to tell the stories you want to tell and fully develop your characters. Most US cable series have thirteen episodes in their first seasons.
elzed From: elzed Date: September 11th, 2010 12:45 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Oh, man, I cried all the way through this episode. I don't know what case is referred to in the original US version of this, but it has incredibly strong echoes on this side of the pond of the Bulger case - a two year old boy killed 17 years ago by two boys, aged 10 or 11 at the time.

It is one of the most notorious child-killer cases here in Britain, and it unleashed a fury of tabloid headlines about evil children which sent shudders down my spine then.

I love what they did with Connor's mother and George - while perhaps a bit heavy handed in its desperate desire to show that it doesn't have to be all about evil and revenge, I thought she played it with enough heart that it really worked; her cry of "I'm a mother, I can't hate a child" (or whatever the exact words were) struck chords in my own - I had no children at the time Jamie Bulger was killed, but I remember being horrified at the media storm around those fucked up children who were branded as evil killers, from damaged family backgrounds...

Very strong opening there - and some sensitive work on the part of Jamie and Bradley with the child interviews, bless them.

But god, what a hideous, horrible disaster of a case...
asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 02:16 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I can't say which real life murder the U.S. episode would have been based on because, sadly, I'm sure there were numerous cases it could have been based on. As horrific as the Bulger case was (I did a bit of reading about it), I was still shocked by the controversy surrounding the episode. I'm not sure if it's our sensationalized news here or twenty years of Law & Order's "ripped from the headlines" storytelling that's desensitized me.

Connor's mother was not portrayed as the stereotypical TV grieving mother and her reasoning for wanting mercy shown to the girls made sense to me. It's one thing to want an adult to spend the rest of their life in prison for a child's murder, but if it's another child doing the killing, who was forced to live in home where the line between right and wrong was not just blurred, but erased, the question as to what to do becomes much more difficult.

I have t believe Jamie being a father of young children informed his performance. I'm not a parent, but I've been spending quite a bit of time with a friends baby recently and I now find myself looking at the world differently.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: September 11th, 2010 04:38 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I can't say which real life murder the U.S. episode would have been based on because, sadly, I'm sure there were numerous cases it could have been based on.

I'll have to look it up, but I'm pretty sure the original U.S. episode took inspiration from the Bulger case, as well.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: September 11th, 2010 05:39 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Addendum: Yup, "Killerz" was also inspired by both the Bulger and Mary Bell cases:
elzed From: elzed Date: September 11th, 2010 08:27 am (UTC) (Link Me)
In fact, some details are lifted straight from the MAry Bell case - the carving of the initials into the body, for instance. And the fact that Mary Bell's mother was a prostitute who let her child be abused...

elzed From: elzed Date: September 11th, 2010 08:25 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I am sure Jamie being a parent of young children must have had an impact on his performance - it completely changes the way you look at anything involving the death of children. Completely.

I absolutely agree about Connor's mother's reasoning making admirable sense to me (and the way, actually, that the others fail to comprehend her mercy at first, because they cannot imagine that she would be capable of such understanding in the raw pain of her grief). It just dovetails so perfectly with mine I find it almost too good to be true! Perhaps I was just being an old cynic... I did think her speech was superb!

And I am not sure there are so many cases of young children murdering other young children even in the US - certainly not as notorious as the Bulger case.

Btw - I went back to look at the issue, and the case it most closely resembles isn't the Bulger story, but the case of Mary Bell - another child who killed a three year old in the late 60s in the UK. She was the daughter of a prostitute, had been abused, committed the killing with another girl, and, tellingly, carved her initial into the boy's stomach....

In fact, wikipedia points out it's the actual source for the original L&O 1999 story that was readapted. So in the end, it comes back to the UK anyhow...

I notice I am not the only one to spot that!!!
asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I think the press zeroed in on the Bulger case because it was more recent and ITV, mistakenly, referenced it the press release (the reference has since been removed). But, yes, the case was much more similar to the Mary Bell case.

zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: September 11th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Fan-freaking-tastic opener to the new series. Controversy be damned, it was a bold and very smart choice to start with such difficult subject matter and I think Emilia D.G. did a superb job keeping the storytelling on an even, truthful, heartfelt keel. (I can't recall if I've seen the original U.S. ep now, I know it was from '99 so if I'm not mistaken, it's the Briscoe/Green era.) To make up one's mind about the content before watching it is simply foolish. Turn it off if you don't like it, but at least give it a chance.

Agree with asta77's assessment above that it was fantastic to see the handling of the girls utilizing both detectives' strengths: Matt we know had a rough home life as a kid and using his experience with a child's nervous ticks as a defense mechanism to work with Paige was great. (Again, as I did with Episode 2.6, there was real character development here. Even more than before, both in the writing and Jamie's performance, Matt seems like he's maturing as a detective.) And then Ronnie being the one to have to deal with the twitchy addict mum who he can obviously relate to on a certain level, even if she can't return the favor. (I really thought Pippa Nixon as Rose's mum was fantastic, as well as of course Lorraine Stanley as Conor's mum. Agreed, her monologue in the CPS scene was superb.)

Top-form from the whole cast, but I do want to put a fine point on Harriet Walter and Bill Paterson this time especially. Just cause they seem to get mentioned the least and they are SO fantastic, both have so much warmth and gravitas which makes them such compelling chieftains on both sides. ;)

And now, the shallow portion of tonight's comment:

asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 02:27 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I really need to rewatch the first thirteen episodes because they are a bit of a blur to me at this point. Also, they were hard to track down and watch at regular intervals given ITV's screwy scheduling with the back half of the season/second series. One thing that struck me that I didn't mention previously, did it seem as if they were relying more on forensic evidence in this episode? There was a lot of talk about blood splattering (initially implicating Paige), followed by her nail chewing exonerating Paige from committing the murder. As much as I enjoy the more human touch in this version of L&O, I also like to see science being used where human intuition can fail.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: September 11th, 2010 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I think this might have been the most detailed case with regard to forensics where it ended up implicating one suspect and exonerating the other. There were definitely some biggies in the first 13, though - notably in "Vice" where they were able to charge one of the two escort-mums after they traced her lipstick to where it was... um... found on the victim's body. ;) (And later, they were also able prove that she was lying about saying she was raped and attacked him in self defense because of a lack of very specific forensic evidence on... um... the same area. ;) ) Also, in "Community Service" (They suspect the guy who lives downstairs w/ his girlfriend and then forensics finds the victim's blood on his kimono, but when they bring him in to charge him he tells them he was trying to help the guy and fingers the dad upstairs.) There's a few eps where they have to consult forensics to some degree or other. (It's also the subject of one of my favorite comedy bits. Ronnie: "We're gonna have to get that forensicated." Matt & Natalie (unison): "'Forensicated's' not a word!" XD)

OH, and Teddy! The forensics boy wonder! I was actually kind of surprised considering what a big role it played in this week's ep that we didn't see Teddy at all.
esmerelda_t From: esmerelda_t Date: September 11th, 2010 09:08 am (UTC) (Link Me)
I thought this was a much stronger episode than most of the previous batch. The changes in the writers room seem to have paid off.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: September 11th, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I need to do a rewatch of the first thirteen episodes, but I'm inclined to agree with you. I even felt the wardrobe and editing was improved.
spongetrisha From: spongetrisha Date: September 12th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I really enjoyed the episode. I thought everyone was brilliant and it was nice to see a more mature side of Matt coming out.
It was a pretty tough watch at times but I was really impressed with the writing on this one, very sensitively handled by Emilia.
It was tough at times to figure out who to feel sorry for - the boys Mum (who was excellent) or the two girls.
Anyway a very strong start to the season and I'm looking forward to more.
zegeekgirl From: zegeekgirl Date: January 15th, 2011 06:11 am (UTC) (Link Me)
Well, it appears that no one else has commented following the BBCA broadcast yet, so let me be the first to say....

WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?! I kind of wish I had the time/energy to clock the episode vs. a previous BBCA airing, because I'm convinced they decided to lengthen/increase the commercial breaks even more than previously. There were HUGE cuts to this episode, specifically:

- The entire scene with Matt & Ronnie outside the CPS, where Ron tells the story about losing one of his girls at a carnival once and laments how hard it is to manage kids sometimes, followed by the entire exchange after Matt goes back inside and Connor's mum arrives distraught at the notion that they are questioning the two girls. Whole scene, gone.

- They also cut to credits at the end immediately after the shot of Alesha and James on the bench, excising the entire scene on the council estate where George kicks the football and speaks further with Connor's mum about the difficult resolution w/ what happened to Rose, even though they tried to save her. Yeah, I know, it's a coda, it's not vital to the outcome of the trial. But it only underscores the ENTIRE THEME of the episode. So, yeah, that's not important. :P

Sorry to vent so vehemently, but it's really starting to bug me how much BBCA is cutting. They seem to be getting comfortable enough that the show is pulling good numbers that they are willing to trim more of the substance that makes it so great for the sake of making a few more bucks. Grrr.
asta77 From: asta77 Date: January 15th, 2011 01:32 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I must admit I was chatting with friends while watching so I wasn't paying as close attention as I should. ;) I missed the first cut you mentioned, but OMG, NOT THE SECOND! That was such a HUGE moment and, as you said, integral to the theme of the episode. I was shocked it was gone. It seems, rather than do small cuts here and there, BBCA opted to excise entire scenes. Was it just for this episode or is the plan to do it for all of Season 2? They do show the uncut episodes on On Demand, but not everyone has that option. Heck, I know people who don't get BBCA at all! :(

On a sidenote, how weird was it seeing a commercial for SyFy's Being Human on the network that runs the original? O_o
ayajedi From: ayajedi Date: January 15th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link Me)
I totally agree with you. The scene with George and Conor's mum on the estate gives closure to her theme and her position as well as George's.
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