We've had themes for the TV Crossover Hall of Fame these last two years. In 2004, we marked the 35th anniversary of the cancellation of 'Star Trek' by inducting people connected to that original version of the franchise.
I celebrated and/or mourned my year of living fiftyishly in 2005 by adopting the mantra I usually reserve for the birthday honors list: "What I say, goes." Those were the inductees that might not have made it into the Hall of Fame without a little help.
And this year we'll be celebrating another theme as well; we'll be pyaing tribute to another long-running franchise. Sadly, the inspiration for this was due to the death of the actor who had been with the show the longest up to that point - Jerry Orbach.
As Detective Lennie Briscoe, Orbach came to embody the archetype for the plainclothes detective in the Big Apple. He was part of a long tradition that could claim Horace McMahon as Lt. Mike Parker ('Naked City') as its paterfamilias.
In fact, I like to think that Lennie Briscoe might have learned his craft under the tutelage of Lt. Parker in those years between 'Naked City' and 'Law & Order'. (By contrast, his successor at the 2-7, Joe Fontana, probably found his mentor in the sartorial style of Lt. Theo Kojak.)
In one of his earliest crossovers with 'Homicide: Life On The Street', Briscoe and Baltimore Detective John Munch (the Crossover King) brought a relationship between two characters from different shows to a whole new level. Usually any previous connection between two characters might have been old school buddies, or they grew up in the same neighborhood. But in Briscoe's case, he was MIGHTY friendly with Gwennie, one of Munch's ex-wives!
At the end of the 2004 season, Briscoe retired from the force, only to take a new job as an investigator with the D.A.'s office. Unfortunately, his new venture for his golden years was short-lived. Briscoe - like the actor who portrayed him - died on the job.
So to kick off this year-long salute to 'Law & Order', we pay tribute to Lennie Briscoe, the Cop's Cop.
'Law & Order'
'Law & Order: Trial By Jury'
'Homicide: Life On The Street'
'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'
'Law & Order: Criminal Intent'
And there are even a few 'Law & Order' video games as well in which he appeared!