Law & Order Special Victims Unit: Year 7 – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the “special victims unit.” These are their stories.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is another spinoff from the original Law & Order series that debuted in 1990. While the original deals with numerous subjects and Criminal Intent deals with the criminal justice system; SVU goes down the road of sexually based crimes. Often time they also deal with sexually based crimes against children which obviously hit home hard for many people. Detectives Elliott Stabler and Olivia Benson are the main focus of the series and are usually joined by a team of other detectives, doctors, and a district attorney. Together they all aim to work with one another and make sure these crimes are solved and the offenders are brought to justice to get what they deserve.

If you’ve never seen SVU before then be warned that the subject matter of these episodes may be quite unsettling to some. The cases deal with everything from rape to domestic abuse to pedophilia to even incest which may not sit well with a lot of people. While all of those topics are disturbing in their own way, it’s nice seeing them brought to the forefront of a series which is viewed by millions of people every week. Perhaps the focus on these crimes can make people more aware and have them look for more warning signs in case they ever suspect something like those are happening to people close to them or even themselves without their realization.

One of the better things about SVU and also Criminal Intent is that the show’s total focus isn’t just on the cases the detectives are dealing with. Those detectives in the spotlight are shown while on the job and after they go home. The demons rolling around in their head when a particular case becomes too personal are shown as well as any happiness or problems that are existent in their family lives. With Criminal Intent, we know so much about Goren’s life that it is evident in his work when someone pushes him. While SVU gives a lot of background on both Stabler and Benson, it’s Stabler’s life that seems to be in the most turmoil. He has a haggle of children who are growing up before his very eyes and a relationship with his wife that becomes rather strained at times. Not very easy to concentrate on bringing a rapist to justice when you’re not even sure how the evening will be when you arrive home.

Season seven has some fantastic episodes that keep this series rolling along without missing a beat. One of my favorites is “Design” has to deal with Benson and her ability to face her past which is shown to her in a young woman contemplating suicide. The woman is pregnant from a past rape and isn’t sure she can totally deal with it. While trying to befriend the woman and help her through this ordeal, Benson realizes she is in over her head and it makes her think back a lot to what she’s gone through. It’s the episodes like this that make you want to keep watching because of the reality that hits total strangers as well as your favorite characters.

The depth to which SVU goes to makes it one of the more intense series and most interesting as well. Creativity runs wild this season with supposed prank phone calls from victims, suspects of the rich and prominent, high school kids doing crimes unexpected of their age, and even victims from Hurricane Katrina. It’s the unpredictability and versatility that the stories can stem from which keep me on the edge of my seat and constantly wondering where the next clue would come from and whom it would lead to. If you’re someone that can handle sensitive topics then make sure SVU becomes a staple in your weekly viewing.

Episodes





Disc One:

Demons: After 21 years, a sex offender is released from jail, but the retired officer who initially locked him up begs Detectives Benson and Stabler to follow the ex-convict and put him away for good.

Design: A suicidal girl confides in Benson that her pregnancy is the result of a rape by a successful businessman. But when the girl is willing to settle for money, Benson and Stabler become suspicious of her story.

911: A disturbing 911 call from a nine-year-old has the detectives racing to find the source of the call, despite multiple phony leads.

Ripped: When a high school student is brutally attacked by one of her classmates, Detectives Stabler, Benson and Fin investigate Luke Breslin, the highly volatile son of Stabler’s former partner.

Strain: A man is found murdered execution-style in the windows of his workplace, and the disturbing clues lead Detectives Benson and Fin to a gay circuit club that’s also a meth hangout.

Disc Two:

Raw: Detectives Benson and Stabler investigates a horrific school shooting, and evidence leads them to a gun store that also serves as the headquarters for a white supremacist group.

Name: When construction workers discover the remains of a young boy, Detective Stabler teams up with a CSU tech to resurrect a cold case of four boys who disappeared 30 years earlier.

Starved: A series of rapes are linked to a speed-dating service, so Detective Benson goes undercover to find the assailant and convince his highly unstable girlfriend to testify against him.

Rockabye: When a runaway is found badly beaten and suffering from a miscarriage due to her injuries, the detectives investigate an abortion clinic that seems to have ulterior motives in the case.

Disc Three:

Storm: Benson and Stabler aggressively pursue a child molester who kidnapped three young sisters, while New York cops butt heads with federal authorities after the suspect is discovered to heave deadly anthrax.

Alien: When a severely injured 12-year-old boy is dumped outside a hospital, Detectives Benson and Stabler are led to a teenager seen beating the boy a week earlier.

Infected: A woman is found shot to death in her apartment, but the case becomes even stranger when Detectives Benson and Stabler discover a 14-year-old boy traumatized and hiding in the closest.

Blast: M.E. Warner visits the family of a recent kidnap victim to inform them of her findings, but when she delivers the diagnosis she is suddenly drawn into the kidnapper’s deadly game.

Disc Four:

Taboo: When a newborn baby boy is discovered in the trash, Detectives Benson and Stabler use a bar t-shirt found at the scene to trace the crime to a well-to-do daughter of a city councilman.

Manipulated: When the body of a murdered young woman is found in her apartment, Detectives Benson and Stabler discover she’s a successful attorney – and stripper – which is apparently unknown to her fiancĂ© or boss.

Gone: Three teens are suspected of foul play when a high school girl disappears after a night of partying. But when one of the boys goes missing as well, ADA Novak decides to reevaluate the suspects.

Class: When a co-ed is found murdered with an unexplained influx of cash, the detectives investigate the various suspects: a roommate, her childhood friend and someone connected to a website where the victim was selling term papers for cash.

Disc Five:

Venom: Detective Fin is torn between his family and the system when his son is roughed up and arrested for murder after digging in a vacant lot late at night.

Fault: Solid investigative work leads the detectives to search for a violent repeat sex offender who was recently put back on the streets and has kidnapped two children.

Fat: When teenage siblings attack and sodomize another girl, M.E. Warner and Detective Stabler conclude that the rime is related to the victim’s weight.

Web: The police are brought into family abuse allegations when a woman believes her young son was molested by her husband, but the boy’s older brother also comes under suspicion when it’s discovered that he runs a porn site catering to pedophiles.

Influence: In the daring season finale, the highly controversial rant of a former rock star convinces an unstable young woman to go off her prescribed meds with deadly results.

The episodes are shown in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen format and most everything looks pretty good, but it is evident at times that the transfer to DVD was not totally clean. Some small amounts of grain and faded colors show up momentarily from time to time, but nothing too obvious.

The episodes are heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and each episode sounds like it does when watching it air on television. All dialogue can be heard clearly and that is most important here because that’s about all you’re going to hear in this series except for the occasional gunshot or banging of a judge’s gavel.

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Law & Order: SVU continues to be my second favorite version of the series with Criminal Intent coming in first and the original doing the least to impress me. Season seven brings about some very interesting cases and even some things we’ve never seen after all this time. To mix things up as well, there are a few episodes with guest stars teaming with Stabler or Benson so the team never really gets stagnant and boring. One of my favorite aspects of this series is the amount of character development and the personal life they are each given while the focus is still on the horrible cases at hand. It makes the audience care so much more for the good guys and hope they can battle through their own personal adversities and solve the crimes that lay before them. It was disappointing that not a single special feature was thrown in because from some reading I’ve done; previous seasons at least had some interviews, montages, featurettes, or previews of the next season. We get nothing here, but that doesn’t stop this from being a must buy DVD set because the episodes keep on being fantastic.

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Universal presents Law & Order Special Victims Unit: Year 7. Created by: Dick Wolf. Starring: Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Richard Belzer, Ice T, B.D. Wong, and more. Running time: 935 minutes on 5 discs. Rating: Not Rated. Released on DVD: July 29, 2008. Available at Amazon.com