July 1st, 2011

Asta 2

Has ITV Shortened Series 5 of 'Law & Order: UK'?

One week ago ITV released the press pack for Series 5 of Law & Order: UK. Two days ago it was announced the show would return to ITV1 on July 10th. All original press materials mentioned the series would include seven episodes. This would follow earlier thirteen episode splits into seven, then six episodes. However, today, when I did one of my checks of the ITV Press Centre, I noticed the page for the 'The Wrong Man' had been changed to state "Episode: 1 of 6". Excuse me?

One of the highlights of Series 5 was to be a first for the series, a two-parter. Lead writer and producer, Emilia di Girolamo, enthusiastically discussed the episodes in the press release:

Question: As ever the storylines are hard hitting and all set in very different worlds. There are some emotional, some shocking and some terrifyingly close to home...

Emilia: "This season we really delve into our regular characters’ lives and explore the emotional impact these cases have on our heroes. Both Matt and Ronnie go on huge personal journeys this season and I love where these seven stories take them. We also do a Law & Order: UK first and close the season with a two-parter. Having two hours rather than one to tell a story with our regulars was an exciting challenge and I’m very glad I got to write both episodes. I’m immensely proud of the double bill - 'Deal' and 'Survivor’s Guilt' – which not only explore some of the most challenging territory we’ve ever covered, but also feature stunning performances from Bradley Walsh, Jamie Bamber and guest actor, the utterly brilliant, Charles Mnene.
 
Two-parter episodes are intended to air back-to-back. This usually means a week apart, but, occasionally, on the same night or consecutive nights. I know the various US versions of Law & Order have had two, even three, part episodes. And while part one may end on a sudden, unexpected discovery by the detectives or prosecutors, leading the case in a new direction, I don't believe that qualifies as a traditional cliffhanger ending.

Law & Order: UK films what can be considered a thirteen episode season. A season that only much later is split into two series (with a presumption of a 7/6 episode split). One can assume 'Deal' and 'Survivor's Guilt' revolves around a story that needed two hours to tell in a satisfying manner and was designed to air together. I am currently at a loss as to what ITV's thinking is in splitting the episodes, which is apparently the case. And I think we, the fans, will be deeply disappointed if we are not seeing the story as the writer, cast and everyone involved in the production of the show presumed it would be told.