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DVD Review: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – The Fourth Year
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Ryan Midnight   |  
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - The Fourth Year DVDLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit
The Fourth Year – 2002-2003 Season
Starring Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Richard Belzer, Ice-T
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
On-sale Dec. 4, 2007

There really is nothing quite like Law & Order. The show has been running solid for almost two decades, with numerous spin-offs, countless awards and nominations, and a ravenously devoted fan base. For those fans, there is nothing much better than discovering a Law & Order marathon being broadcast on any of the numerous channels that have the show in syndication. But what if there is no marathon to be had, and you’ve just got to get your fix? Well, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has you covered with their newest DVD release of the 2002-2003 season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – The Fourth Year.

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. [insert your own chung-chung sound here]

Special Victims Unit is perhaps the most controversial and downbeat series under the L&O umbrella. There is no room for fun and games or light quirky crimes when you are dealing with rape, murder, child abuse, and various hot button issues. But because of the overall tones and topics that are the centerpieces of SVU, there is hardly an episode that is not intense, emotional, and powerful, and you’ll be more hard pressed to find an episode that you will not have an instinctive and gut reaction.

At the core of each episode is a tight-knit band of television thespians that bring some of the finest and believable acting to the screen. The detectives, played by Christopher Meloni as Stabler, Mariska Hargitay as Benson, Richard Belzer as Munch, and Ice-T as Tutuola each bring to their characters a unique intensity and flavor that is irresistible. The show’s tight writing has also created very deep character developments that make them feel like real people, which is certainly a rarity in television these days. With each episode, you get to know the detectives more and more, and it is this dedication and respect to the characters that have kept the fans coming back season after season. A strong secondary cast, including Dann Florek and B.D. Wong, along with an impressive array of guest stars like Pam Grier and Judith Light, ensures that there is never a dip in talent in every episode.

Season four offers up one of the strongest overall seasons in the series thus far and includes several fan favorite episodes. Two of my personal favorites can be found in this season. “Pandora” deals with the murder of an FBI informant trying to catch online pedophiles and ends with Stabler making a trip to Prague to find a kidnapped girl. “Risk” deals with the discovery of cocaine being smuggled across the border in baby formula and the entire squad goes undercover to break up the drug ring.

There has been a gapping hole in the seasonal DVD releases of Special Victims Unit after Universal made the decision to jump ahead to the fifth season when they first began releasing the series. Fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief and fill in that hole in their collection now. All 25 episodes are collected here on five discs. They are housed in three slim cases that fit snuggly into a sturdy cardboard slipcase. The picture quality is fantastic with a slight improvement over their original broadcast. Also included are English and Spanish subtitles. No other extras are featured.

Universal Home Entertainment releases Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Season 4 on DVD December 4th, just in time to pick up for the gift-giving season!

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