On Illness and the Eternal Wheel of Law & Order

On Christmas I fell deathly ill and have been incapacitated (destroyed would be the better word) ever since. Only just today have I had the energy and wherewithal to go back on the internet since. Sadly my disease infected my dinner guests, too. (Sorry about that.) One of the only things my wife and I could do this whole week (so incapacitated we were by coughing, nausea, and fatigue) was watch TV and lie desperately still while experimenting with meds to get the coughing fits to stop (Benadryl eventually did it for me, i.e. diphenhydramine, but it leaves me dizzy, floaty, and dead inside, so it’s almost as bad as the disease…but dead inside at least works for sleeping).

Today is the first day since Christmas that I’ve had any energy or ability to get online again. So I’m clearing my much-delayed comments queue today, most without reply.

I rarely get ill. But when I do, it’s usually bad. It has literally been years since the last time I was so ill, though, that I couldn’t even do anything. Even for a day. Much less over a week. So this is the first time in years I discovered that you can watch episodes of Law & Order: This or That literally 24-7 if you have a large enough channel array on your cable service. An endless wheel of Law & Order. Anytime. Whether it’s Law & Order “Classic” or SVU or CI. When one marathon or syndication block ends, it’ll be starting up again on some other channel, rest assured.

Jen and I like the show so it was a tolerable thing to watch endlessly, especially as it’s mostly sad or serious and mostly not comedy (laughing is the worst thing when you are trying to suppress your horrible fits of coughing…as I found out when Jen and I started sharing jokes about the commercials and it didn’t go well for either of us, which became a joke between us all on its own…”oh no, don’t start that again…!”).

Though I did notice Sam Waterston’s character is apparently so beloved now that no one shows the eps before his tenure anymore, back when Michael Moriarty played the ADA. And yet I miss those. Channels kept shilling the Waterston eps in commercials as the “first” Law & Order and I felt that was kind of rude. As if the original series didn’t even exist. You know. Back when they had a black man as the assistant prosecutor? Golly, remember that? I liked Richard Brooks’s character. And does anyone even remember Chris Noth’s first partner was played by George Dzundza? Then Paul Sorvino? Before Orbach stepped in and became the mainstay wisecracking partner for ages and ages? (Far outlasting Noth.)

Not that there weren’t great characters and episodes all the way through L&O’s 20 season run, SVU’s (now) 15 seasons, and CI’s ten. But sometimes I get nostalgic for when it all began. And being stuck at home in the middle of a workday staring at a thousand channels and an endless wheel of Law & Order, it just seemed strange not to get a chance to see them again. As if they are now forgotten.


  1. Hunt says

    Moral of the story: get your flu shot! Even if you aren’t a senior citizen, what’s two or three weeks of your life every year worth to you? And it take, like, what? five minutes?

    • Chuck Messenger says

      A friend of mine got his flu shot early – in Aug – and he came down with the flu just before Xmas.

      So a flu shot is no guarantee…

  2. says

    Glad you are feeling better. Looking forward to your upcoming book. Grateful for your blog. If there is a judge of the quick and the dead, your purgatory experience will have to exclude L&O since it has already had its desired positive thinking effect on this side of limbo 😉
    Let’s raise a glass of new year’s cheer to the hope that Dr Carrier doesn’t have another bout of illness until 2025 or later. Best wishes for coming back stronger than ever.

  3. CCK says

    Haven’t tried it with a really bad cold/flu, but…

    Essential peppermint oil. Breathing in the vapors absolutely does reduce coughing and Inflammation. If you can get your nasal passages clear enough, works up there as well as lungs. Do not get it in your eyes. Ouchy. Downside is that the effects only seem to last about a half hour, but it only takes about 2 drops of the stuff rubbed in palms to do the trick so a small bottle lasts a long time and the effects are almost immediate. Available at stores that carry essential oils.

  4. Callinectes says

    I too had a crappier Christmas than expected, when I had to flee my home and town on Christmas Eve as it was rendered without electricity, without landlines, without vehicle access, and underwater. I never have liked English weather. But at least I could laugh without hurting myself, so there’s that.

  5. jet says

    I had an almost identical experience with the holidays (though I thankfully managed to avoid infecting my wife). Something is going around it seems. Glad to hear you’re feeling better at any rate.

  6. pacal says

    Watching earlier Law and Order episodes now as an added element of fun when you realize that Michael Moriatry has gone batshit insane and is now a rightwing frothing at the mouth kook. It adds a whole new dimension to the character he plays, as in looking for signs of crack-brained idiocy in the character.

    As for the show itself I have always felt that it was part of a concerted effort to pave the way for a police state. One of the recurring motifs of shows like this was to show and to show repeatidly how “technicalities” impede the righteous police from protecting us from scum. And shows like this now routinely show and justify the police beating people up and using lies and trickery to get the guilty. SVU is especially notorious in that respect. Homicide glorified the lying, deceptive techniques of Goren, a man who in my opinion is a psychopath.

    • says

      They’ve gotten more sophisticated about that over the years, with storylines not as simplistic as before and with more handwringing and punishment for bending the rules, even severel eps in which innocent people are railroaded by those tactics, showing the other side of those things (case in point was just this last week when they showed the ep where the fingerprint specialist was convicted for cutting corners–and the wide reaching consequences of that, including innocent victims, are a major plot point).

  7. gwen says

    Yes, that sucks. It hit my (hospital) unit pretty hard. I came down with it too. No, not the flu, but some other virus making the Bay Area rounds right now. Glad you’re better, I think the cough was the worst and lasted longest.

  8. moarscienceplz says

    Wow Richard, so sorry you and Jen had such a sucky holiday. Maybe you should have invited a Christian Scientist over to pray your illness away. (I kid, I kid!)

  9. Michael R says

    I’m the opposite, I usually catch whatever’s going around. But this year I’ve been taking vitamin C (1gm calcium ascorbate powder). I almost made it through the year without catching anything. I too caught something over xmas but it was quickly over – only one miserable night and one slow week. Plus I “religiously” ate at least one thing raw every day e.g. grape tomatoes.

  10. Andrew B. says

    Have you ever seen Law and Order: UK? I found the obvious changes Interesting, but mostly the same show.

  11. Jerry Russell says

    Sorry to hear you’ve been sick. If I’d known, I would’ve gone easier on you! And I’m glad you’re feeling better.

  12. says

    The TV gods heard my prayer. I’m at home right now watching first season eps on AMC! (“And you know what? It’s boring! I want Sam Waterston!”–Jen)

  13. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    I loved the early episodes of L&O. I thought the original team of Moriarty, his assistant (Robinette), Chris Noth and his Irish partner was the best (though a bit male-centric.) And of course Stephen Hill (?) as the head of the DA’s office was pitch-perfect in his sarcasm and statements of make-a-deal pragmatism always with an eye toward the political landscape. I think the early seasons were special in that they really focussed on cases where there was alot of moral ambiguity in the search for justice. I still enjoyed Waterston and the later years, but those early seasons will always have a special place in my heart. It was truly unlike anything (at least that I had seen) before. One of my favorite episodes involved a schizophrenic man who refused to take his meds and causing a psychotic episode. The guy who played him was superb and later showed up again as an attorney a few seasons later. Which is another area in which L&O (especially early years) shined: fantastic casting of the supporting roles. They usually stole the show from the stars.

  14. gingerbaker says

    Ahhhhh… Netflix!

    Thousands of episodes and hundreds of shows.

    And zero commercials.

    Wild orgies of TV series bingeing. :)

    Did I neglect to mention the lack of commercials? ;D

  15. DonDueed says

    I didn’t care much for L&O in the first couple seasons. Too much handheld camera work. That gets annoying fast. It doesn’t make me actually nauseous, I just wind up grinding my teeth and wishing they’d buy a damn tripod.

    Hope you’re feeling norbal again soon. You didn’t give this to Mano, did you? *wink*

    (Huge internets to anyone who gets the ‘norbal’ reference!)

  16. DonDueed says

    P.S. (To Jen) — I’ve been a big fan of Sam Waterston ever since he played the title role in the PBS series “Oppenheimer”, back in medieval times.

  17. says

    Richard, Sorry to hear about your illness. I have remained cold and flu-free by practicing a nasal flush at the first sign of a stuffy nose, since most of these viruses incubate inside the nose (hence rhino-viruses), then the infection dribbles down to your throat, and then finally your lungs. Stop it in the nose. I use a solution of heated filtered water and canning salt (very cheap, it is salt without additives) and baking soda (again, cheap). And I use an inexpensive syringe called Nasaline. Like a turkey baster, but for the nose. And you don’t have to tilt your head back like a neddy pot. It’s a full flush. A clogged nose or itchy throat goes away the same night you use this stuff. No medication needed. Just flush until you feel better.

    Also, I would suggest an annual flu shot.

  18. DrVanNostrand says

    Last I checked, Netflix streamed the first several seasons. The early episodes are a nice change of pace, but Waterston is still the best. Richard Brooks (can’t remember character name) and Jamie Ross (can’t remember actress name) were my favorite ADAs.

  19. stu says

    glad you are feeling better Richard. I am a physician in CANADA and we are experiencing yet another epidemic of H1N1 in Alberta that has killed people. I have lived through H1N1 and “SARS” where I had to work with full gown–like a Burka..lol. fortunately science has given us tools to combat this bane of human existence. I often use the great human diseases, like malaria,smallpox, plague,measles, TB as evidence against a loving deity.