Thursday, December 30, 2004

R.I.P., Jerry Orbach

My friend Matt was first with the news yesterday afternoon, e-mailing me about Jerry Orbach's death from prostate cancer.

I haven't been a regular "Law & Order" watcher in years, but its endless reruns on cable are a dependable stand-by whenever there isn't anything else interesting on TV. And I always enjoyed the quips from Orbach's character, Det. Lennie Briscoe. A cop scene on the show didn't seem complete until it was wrapped up by one of Briscoe's one-liners. (Dana Stevens wrote a nice tribute to them and Orbach in yesterday's Slate. One nice example: After finding a university ID on a murder victim, Briscoe said "She can forget about midterms.") From what I've heard, the show isn't the same without Lenny Briscoe, and many fans seemed to be hoping for his return (despite him moving to a new "L&O" spinoff, "Trial By Jury.")

I had no idea Orbach was originally a song-and-dance man until a few years ago. It's difficult for me to imagine the grizzled Lenny Briscoe lighting up Broadway in "The Fantasticks," "Annie Get Your Gun," or "Chicago." (I wonder if a musical episode of "Law & Order" was ever considered. Probably not. But Jesse Martin was in "Rent," wasn't he? And if he hasn't already, I'm sure Sam Waterston has a showtune within him, just waiting to be released.)

You'll always live on my TV set, Jerry. Here's to you.