The news that Law & Order: Criminal Intent would be ripping all those headlines about the struggles of Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark for an upcoming episode was notable for its lightning-quick turnaround time, and for its fictionalized take on one of rock’s biggest characters: Bono. According to TVLine’s Michael Ausiello, “Arno” (seriously) will be “a secretly bisexual rock-star composer who’s cheating on the missus with a colleague.” (But will he wear big glasses?)
This bit of news inspired a look back at all the times that shows within the Law & Order version of New York City have taken on music-related topics. After the jump, six (in honor of the dearly departed original version’s cast roster) of the ones that stuck out the most.
6. A Courtney Love type gets bumped off after feuding with her dead husband’s bandmates over royalties. (Law & Order, “True Crime,” season 13, episode 3.) Not a great episode — it’s from the disastrous Röhm/Thompson era — but notable for the way it identified the dead singer who had been married to a deceased rock icon before meeting her own demise: Serial numbers on her breast implants. (Also, how did “Nirvana” turn into “Krisis” in the writers’ room?)
5. Big Boi plays an MC who got caught for being “on eBay looking for a tiger.” (Law & Order: SVU, “Wildlife,” season 10, episode 7.) Philip Mlynar noted this cameo in his rundown of rappers entering the Law & Order universe, but it’s worth noting if only because of his untimely exit from this earth, which is up to the grisly standards set by the somehow-most-watched L&O arm: He quite literally gets fed to the hyenas. (Which then vomit up the necklace he was wearing.)
4. Briscoe & Logan enter the East Village punk scene. (Law & Order, “Securitate,” season 3, episode 20.) In a 1993 episode, detectives Lennie Briscoe & Mike Logan plunged into the New York rock world in search of two guys from a band called No Bozo Jam. (The ’90s!) The three minutes of the show focused on this hunt, which takes the detectives on a tour of the old East Village, pack a lot of intergenerational tension into their short duration: “Doesn’t anybody jitterbug anymore?” Briscoe wonders upon entering a seedy club, where a really lousy rap-metal band (sample lyric: “I’m emotionally stable / all you do is watch cable”) entertains grimly nodding fans. A sneering bartender then directs the detectives to another club to find NBJ’s former percussionist, who’s wary of ruining her cred for the purposes of fighting crime: “I don’t want it getting around that I played with No Bozo, because, you know, things are happening for me,” she tells the cops. “We’ll try to keep it out of Rolling Stone,” Logan replies. Gotta love that music-media humor!
3. The Juggalo episode. (Law & Order, “Steel-Eyed Death,” season 20, episode 13.) Particularly notable because the Australian horrorcorist who supplied the episode’s music was very unhappy about the way his subculture was treated by the show, which included one of the Juggalo suspects being chalked up to being “that way” because of a concussion. (There’s also a subplot involving 9/11-related PTSD, just to round things out.)
2. The Kevin Federline stand-in appearing in a Britney Spears-themed episode winds up being a better rapper than K-Fed himself. (Law & Order, “Fame,” season 17, episode 1.) OK, so it’s not hard. (Also, it should be noted that the clip was posted by the guy responsible for the track; clearly he didn’t have the same hangups over the way his music was portrayed as our Juggalo pal.)
1. Detective Zach Nichols takes over the stage at Public Assembly. (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, “Rock Star,” season 8, episode 2.) In which Jeff Goldblum — in his first episode as an extremely brainy Major Case detective — shows off his piano skills on the Williamsburg venue’s stage while giving an impassioned speech about making it in the music business; this episode is also notable for its depiction of the ethnic tensions in the rapidly gentrifying nabe and the McKibbin Lofts, right down to the bedbugs. It’s really too bad that Goldblum can’t play Bono — er, “Arno.” After all, he’s already shown the world that he can be The Fly.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 25, 2011