|It weighs nearly 10 pounds, holds 104 DVDs and is bigger than a breadbox. And speaking of bread … even if you catch a sale, the new "Law & Order: The Complete Series" DVD box set, which retails for $699.99, is going to set you back a nice chunk of dough.|
All 20 seasons of producer Dick Wolf's iconic series -- that's 456 episodes and thousands of "doink doink" sound effects -- are included in the set, which also features deleted and extra scenes, a tribute to star Jerry Orbach, interviews with Wolf, Orbach, and stars Jesse L. Martin and Fred Thompson and a tour of the show's set led by Orbach.
In 2001, "Law & Order" producers were planning a spin-off miniseries called "Law & Order: Terror." In five episodes, the storyline would have revolved around a group of al Qaeda terrorists who blew up a station in Times Square, then unleashed an anthrax attack on New York City. The project was announced on Sept. 10, and was quickly scrapped when real-world headlines intervened on Sept. 11.
But throughout its 1990-2010 run, "Law & Order" was more famous for stories "ripped from today's headlines" than for predicting real-life events.
Here, 10 of the show's most memorable episodes that spun good fiction from strange real world drama:
"Melting Pot," Season 17 "Law & Order" plot: Detectives scramble to prove that the alleged suicide of an actress was actually a murder. Based on: The 2006 murder of actress Adrienne Shelly, writer, director and co-star of the award-winning 2007 movie "Waitress." A construction worker killed her and tried to make it look like she committed suicide after she complained about noise he was making in an apartment below hers. Shelly had guest-starred in the season 10 episode "High & Low."
"Empire," Season 9 "Law & Order" plot: A millionaire with a heart condition dies from a Viagra overdose, and his partner in a deal to build a pro football stadium in New York City is a suspect. Based on: The real-life battle between Donald Trump, George Steinbrenner and Rudy Giuliani over plans to build an NFL stadium on the west side of Manhattan. More star power: Julia Roberts -- who was dating series star Benjamin Bratt at the time -- made a guest appearance in the "L&O" episode as a woman who'd had pre-death sex with the millionaire.
"Obsession," Season 15 "Law & Order" plot: A conservative talk show host is murdered shortly after making a settlement in a sexual harassment suit filed against him. Based on: "O'Reilly Factor" host Bill O'Reilly, who, in 2004, filed a lawsuit against a female Fox News producer, alleging she was blackmailing him. The woman, Andrea Mackris, filed a sexual harassment suit against O'Reilly in return (the infamous loofah allegations), and they settled the matter two weeks later.
"Excalibur," Season 18 "Law & Order" plot: A jeweler's murder leads to the discovery of a prostitution ring, patronized by the governor of New York. Based on: Former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who, just two months before the 2008 episode aired, had to resign his position when he turned out to be "client 9" to a high-price prostitution business. (Makes you think how happy Anthony Weiner must be that "Law & Order" was off the air before his Twitter scandal broke.)
"By Hooker, By Crook," Season 1 "Law & Order" plot: The murder of an architect leads the detectives to uncover a high-price prostitution ring. Based on: The "Mayflower Madam," Sydney Biddle Barrows, a member of an upper-class Philadelphia family and a Mayflower descendant who wrote a bestselling memoir about her days as a madam. Candice Bergen played her in a 1987 TV movie.
"Subterranean Homeboy Blues," Season 1 "Law & Order" plot: A white woman shoots two black men on the subway, and what at first appears to be self-defense turns out to be a case of vigilantism. Based on: The 1984 case of Bernie Goetz, who shot four men trying to mug him on a New York subway. Coincidence: When Goetz was sued by one of the men in a civil suit in 1996, his attorney was Darnay Hoffman, the ex-husband of the aforementioned Sydney Biddle Barrows.
"Doped," Season 20 "Law & Order" plot: A mother drives a minivan full of kids 20 blocks, in the wrong direction, and then crashes into another car, killing all three people in the other car and three children in the minivan. She's suspected of DUI when an empty bottle of alcohol is found in her minivan, but detectives later find her nasal spray had been spiked with propofol, one of the drugs that killed Michael Jackson. Based on: The episode aired just a few months after the July 2009 Taconic State Parkway crash in which Long Island mother Diane Schuler drove in the wrong direction on the New York highway, crashing her minivan into another car and killing eight people, including four children. A toxicology report found large amounts of alcohol and marijuana in Schuler's system, though her husband still disputes that she ever drank excessively, and lawsuits related to the accident are ongoing.
"Indifference," Season 1 "Law & Order" plot: An abused child is living with an addict mother who is being abused by her addict husband, a therapist. Based on: Joel Steinberg, the New York lawyer who was convicted in the 1987 manslaughter of a six-year-old girl he and his live-in partner, Hedda Nussbaum, had been illegally raising. Two bits of trivia: "Indifference" is the only "Law & Order" episode in which the show's narrator acknowledges the episode is based on a real-life case; and when Steinberg was paroled in 2004, "L&O" brought back his TV alter ego for the episode "Fixed," in which the Steinberg-inspired character was killed off.
"Star Struck," Season 2 "Law & Order" plot: A soap opera actress is nearly beaten death by a fan who says voices in his head made him attack her. Based on: The 1989 murder of "My Sister Sam" actress Rebecca Schaeffer, who was killed outside her apartment by obsessive, stalking fan named Robert Bardo.
"Formerly Famous," Season 12 "Law & Order" plot: A has-been singer is accused of murdering his wife. Based on: The Robert Blake case, with Gary Busey playing Tommy Vega, the Blake-like character who becomes the main suspect after his wife is murdered outside their favorite restaurant.