It appeared there was a lot more to the Law & Order premiere than fans believed.
NBC and Dick Wolf Entertainment have released a half dozen scenes cut from the Season 21 premiere episode, The Right Thing.
The biggest is a meeting between Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) and Jamie Ross (Carey Lowell) that might have been a more significant moment for the episode itself.
Law & Order’s ratings woes
After 12 years off the air, it was expected that Law & Order Season 21 would have a big return in the ratings. Sadly, it hasn’t quite worked out that way.
The Season 21 premiere did do well with 5.8 million viewers and a 0.7 rating in the 18-49 demo, helping it tie for the top spot on the night.
The episode, The Right Thing, had the cops investigating the murder of a singer convicted of drugging and assaulting 40 women before a legal loophole got him released. They eventually zeroed in on one of his past victims seeking revenge.
A major turn was Cosgrove (Jeffrey Donovan) lying to the woman that she wouldn’t be arrested if she confessed, only to do so after she admitted her guilt. Price was forced to drop that confession which caused a mess in court.
The investigation soon pulled in former ADA Jamie Ross (Carey Lowell), who refused to testify on the killer’s motives. Eventually, the killer was convicted even if the cops wondered if they’d done the right thing.
However, after that great opening, ratings took a tumble for the latest Law & Order episode. This past week had 4.3 million total viewers and a 0.4 demo rating, down 26 and 43 percent from its premiere.
Meanwhile, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had 4.4 million viewers with a 0.6 rating, slightly down from the previous week. Law & Order Organized Crime was steady at 3.1 million viewers and a 0.5 rating.
While Law & Order producers are hopeful that the ratings bounce back, they are releasing a score of scenes deleted from the episode, which offers new insight into the storyline.
What was cut from the Law & Order Season 21 premiere?
It is standard for TV shows to trim a few scenes from each episode. However, it’s still surprising a half dozen scenes were deleted from The Right Thing.
This indicates the producers had hoped for a longer premiere length. As it is, the episode ended up running five minutes over to end at 9:05 Eastern time.
Most of the cut scenes were clearly eliminated for pacing, such as the detectives talking to a possible suspect who turns out to be a red herring.
There was also a more extended discussion between Price and Maroun where Price revealed that he was wary of throwing out the confession because he once had a client falsely confessing to a crime he didn’t commit. By the time Price revealed the man was innocent, he’d been killed in prison.
It also had Price confessing he switched from a defense attorney to a prosecutor as he was tired of getting guilty people out of jail.
The biggest cut scene is a meeting between Jack and his former ADA partner Ross. In the episode, McCoy is only seen in the courtroom looking disappointed at Jamie refusing to testify on the stand.
The conversation details how Ross felt guilty over cutting a deal for the singer in the first place, which put a past victim in a position to kill him. McCoy pressed on how “this is a line you can’t cross.”
The short scene still shows how McCoy considers Jamie a friend and is worried about how her career could be damaged covering for a killer.
While it might have been nice to have the episode longer to fit in these character beats, it shows how much goes into a Law & Order episode to let it shine.
Law & Order: Season 21 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.