‘Law & Order’: Why This Forgotten Spinoff Series Lasted Just One Season

by Megan Molseed

The Law & Order franchise is famous for creating some fan-favorite spin-off shows. Who hasn’t gotten caught up in a Law & Order: SVU episode? Especially as the SVU detectives work tirelessly to solve some sensational “ripped from the headlines” crimes. Or, what true fan of the franchise wasn’t poised in front of their TV to catch the long-awaited return of Chris Meloni’s Elliot Stabler in Law & Order: Organized Crime?

However, sometimes a spin-off idea doesn’t quite find its rhythm. And, unlike the above-mentioned shows, these Law & Order additions find only a short stint on network TV. One of these shows, Law & Order: Los Angeles, never quite found its legs. And, within a few episodes, the brand-new series was headed towards cancelation.

Law & Order: Los Angeles Was Tagged To Be a Smash-Hit, But It Ended Up Fading Into Franchise History

In the fall of 2010, Law & Order: Los Angeles made its debut on NBC. This spin-off series had the perfect timeslot – airing right after the successful SVU. And, a crossover episode served as the perfect intro to the Los Angeles cast when one of the stars of the new series, Skeet Ulrich guest-starred on SVU.

Law & Order: Los Angeles was a big move for the series showrunners. The series was the first attempt to move the franchise away from New York City. And, with this series occurring in LA, the general feel of the series had a different element. One that fans do not regularly see on the other Law & Order shows. Additionally, many of the crimes investigated by the Los Angeles detectives focused on high-profile crimes; crimes involving celebrities, and powerful people.

Los Angeles Was Unable To Capture The Original Magic Fans Loved In The Show’s Premiere Series

When Law & Order: Los Angeles premiered, the brand new series pulled in over 10 million viewers. However, the new spin-off installment was unable to continue with this momentum as time went on. One suggested reason as to why this series fell short of finding success like SVU or Organized Crime notes that Los Angeles’s attempt to recapture the original Law & Order premise didn’t work well in the new setting. Other comments related to this series note that Los Angeles didn’t draw fans into the drama the way its predecessors did.

And, the lack of character development turned fans away from the new series as well. The characters were bland as they attempt to highlight “low-key” performances. Even changing things up a bit, replacing Ulrich with Ricardo Morales – moving him from the DA’s office to a detective role – didn’t give the show the lift showrunners were going for. These changes, in fact, had a different impact than what was intended. The moves were making it hard for audiences to connect with the players in the short-lived spin-off series.