|Setting "Law & Order" in Los Angeles starts out like setting "90210" in Larchmont. While you can replicate most of the basics, you end up with a different show.|
No "Law & Order" that follows the original "L&O" formula can be truly awful, since that formula is as basic to TV cop shows as H2O is to rain.
Still, the rhythms feel off. The cuts don't feel as crisp, the transitions don't feel as sharp.
Part of this may stem from the show's deliberate and successful attempt to look L.A. Where the New York edition always had a little grit, for instance, tonight's L.A. opener is almost surgically antiseptic.
Detectives Rex Winter (Skeet Ulrich) and T.J. Jaruszalski (Corey Stoll) at one point walk through an extensive building interior that is completely, spotlessly white. The only time you'd get that scene in New York is if they filmed in Central Park during a blizzard.
The show also clearly wants to find the hip and happening side of L.A. - that is, perhaps a younger audience.
In weeks ahead, we will presumably visit South Central or working-class 'hoods, but tonight it's all upscale Hollywood party people, or wanna-bes, and their upscale Hollywood lives.
The episode also revolves around a young Hollywood star who could play the lead in any series on CW.
The fact that things don't turn out so well for her could almost be taken as an inside television dig, except it's much more likely a bid to tap a collective obsession with bad things that happen to famous people.
The casting also feels a little jarring. It has the requisite nononsense ethnic commanding officer, in this case Rachel Ticotin's Arleen Gonzales, but while the New York casts always looked like New Yorkers, the cops here look out of place, as if they haven't quite grasped L.A. style yet.
Alfred Molina plays our first D.A., Ricardo Morales, and while Molina is a good actor, he looks scary, like a long-lost child of the Munsters.
What's more noticeable out of the box is that few characters seem to have much spark. They're smart and efficient, but after spending years with the likes of Jerry Orbach, we're used to more.
"LOLA," as it will inevitably be known, also wants us to know it's tuned in to contemporary pop culture. That's fine, except when it references TMZ and Perez Hilton there's a vague sense of dissonance with its own allegiance to the still-traditional "L&O" structure.
Like anyone who switches coasts, "LOLA" may need a little time to settle in.