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My Petri Dish, My Killer

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This entry was posted on 2/4/2007 6:25 PM and is filed under Television.

  2/5/07: Law & Order “Talking Points” (2007)

We could hack out every Monday’s entry with some kind of Law&OrderWatch posting. The truth, however, is that the show can’t consistently register as entertaining Leftist Porn. But every episode’s a solid attempt, and this past Friday’s was a scatterbrained scattershot that truly rates a recap.

“Talking Points” starts at a university where students are being lectured by a beautiful blonde outspoken conservative babe. This lecture must have been billed as “An Evening of Random Harpings by Judith Barlow,” since she’s just shouting out a bunch of different right-wing points—which includes that old conservative canard about denying people the right to vote. The mixed audience has been sitting politely, it seems, but they’re finally outraged by Barlow’s insane views.

Everyone rushes the stage, a shot rings out, and student Jason Miles hits the floor with a bullet in his heart. Homicide detectives Ed Green and Nina Cassady appear in their usual roles as toughened liberal New York City police veterans. Boy, are they disgusted by Barlow. “No wonder they call her the most hated bitch in America,” says Green. Cassady has a good laugh about how she isn’t offended by the use of the word “bitch” when it’s used about a Republican woman.

Barlow is glib back at police headquarters. Her bodyguards have been cleared, and she’s flirting with Detective Green. “I’d rather have a root canal,” says Green—but not to Barlow’s face. Good thing, too, if he can’t come up with anything wittier than a reference to a root canal.

The detectives then learn that Jason had “become obsessed with how the right-wing [is] screwing up the country.” They visit one of Jason’s Leftist professors, and he calls the detectives the “porcine patrol” and is generally a real creep. This is supposed to represent some balance about extremists.

The detectives also learn that Jason showed up at a pro-Palestine march and beat up on some pro-Israel student. Video footage shows that Jason didn’t beat up Jews, though. He beat up a devout Christian student who explains to the detectives that Israel has to exist so that it’ll hasten the end of the world.

We’ve never heard a Christian say this. We have, however, heard plenty of anti-Semites tell us that Christians are exploiting Jews for exactly that reason. Then the hipster Nazis explain to us how that’s why we’d all be doing Jews a favor by wiping out Israel now. How nice of Law & Order to provide a forum for those talking points. Hey, that’s the name of the episode!

The murderer turns out to be Jason’s good pal Malcolm Yates. He’s a grad student who works in embryonic stem-cell research. Malcolm also has Parkinson’s Disease. The guy’s pretty chummy with Jason’s old girlfriend (she supplied his alibi), but it seems that Malcolm was really offended by Barlow’s opposition to his life’s work. Also, Barlow went on The O’Reilly Factor and put pressure on the group that funded Malcolm’s stem-cell research. Malcolm lost his job soon afterwards.

As usual with Law & Order, the focus goes off the investigation and on to the trial. Detectives Green and Cassady are presumably off doing fundraising work for Greenpeace.

Casting notes: Occasional conservative Ron Silver shows up as Bernie Adler, Malcolm’s flamboyantly offensive liberal knee-jerk of a defense attorney. Regular cast member Fred Dalton Thompson appears as D.A. Arthur Branch, who declares that the problem with America is “the pundits from both sides of the aisle who lie every night on cable television.” This is also the second Law & Order we’ve seen this season where his character invokes Antonin Scalia—in this case, setting up a conversation where the Justice’s political views are discussed as covertly extreme.

Thompson also provides the line that references Ann Coulter. See, that proves the character of Judith Barlow isn’t meant to be Ann Coulter. Barlow is even worse. We know Thompson’s political background, and we know that an actor has to eat, but can we please quit pretending that the guy is some kind of Hollywood conservative?

Back to the show: Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy is upset because Malcolm is being allowed to shake away at the defense table without his medication. McCoy also tries the unique prosecutorial gambit of saying that Malcolm really had every good reason to want to shoot his conservative tormentor. He goes on for a while about how embryonic stem-cells can cure Parkinson’s. Then defense attorney Adler talks about how embryonic stem-cell research really can’t be proven to cure Parkinson’s. Those Law & Order writers really have to twist themselves to sell a story. At least now we know why the Leftist attorney is presented as a bad guy.

Adler also addresses the jury as “coons” and “spics.” That’s because he wants them to understand that Barlow—like many best-selling conservative commentators—uses those words all the time. Nobody argues against this point.

There’s a lot of debate over keeping Barlow off the stand, because Adler wants to reveal how she made fun of Michael J. Fox for having Parkinson’s. (Don’t worry; we know she isn’t Rush Limbaugh, because Barlow made an earlier reference to having drinks with him.) Barlow does okay on the stand, despite being an obviously horrid person.

Then McCoy gets Malcolm on the stand, and brilliantly destroys the murderer’s defense. See, Malcolm claims that he meant to scare Barlow, and the gun only went off because his hand was twitching so much from Parkinson’s. But it turns out that Malcolm had worked in the research lab earlier that day, and so must have taken his medication! This prompts a dramatic Perry Mason-style confession as Malcolm admits that, yes, he did intend to murder Barlow.

He’s a lousy shot, though. Barlow was nowhere near Jason. We think Malcolm had the hots for Jason’s girlfriend.

Malcolm is taken off to prison, and Barlow is seen looking smug while sporting a crucifix around her neck. McCoy, meanwhile, is asked for his own opinion about embryonic stem-cell research. “I don’t talk politics,” he replies, and there’s the funniest line in the history of Law & Order. Then we get the previews for next week’s episode, entitled “Church.” Looks like a wealthy Christian has committed another murder. Maybe there’ll be the usual twist, and the wealthy Christian simply caused another murder.

Make it your own:
Once again, the official site doesn’t offer much more than a clip. The episode will eventually be rerun on NBC, then several times a day on the USA Network.


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