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Law and Order Ranking: The Order

 Last week I ranked "The Law" side of one of my favorite television programs of all time, Law and Order. This week I will review the cast that made up the district attorney's office, or the "Order" side of things. This entry will be much more difficult. I did not find ranking the detectives to be that difficult last week. I had a clear number one and two, and had no problem ranking the detectives from six through eleven. I just had to really think when ranking three, four, and five. Ranking the lawyers is going to be quite difficult. Heck, I think all three of the assistant district attorneys were amazing, I really wish I could rank each of them as number one....but I will not because that is quite lame.

This is the same disclaimer from the last post, but I feel I should make it clear again: Disclaimers: This is just my opinion as a long-time fan of the show. Just because someone is lower in the rankings does not mean they were "bad," it just means others did a better job in their roles. Also, I do not have acting experience, but I did direct a few hit high school plays about twenty years ago, no really, I did.

The Order

District Attorney

4. Nora Lewin (Dianne Wiest):  This is my easiest ranking for this post. While Wiest is a great actor, she was just never as strong in her roll compared to other DA's during her two seasons on the show. In fairness, she did have the difficult task of replacing Steven Hill's character and you know the saying about replacing the....well you know.

3. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterson): Ok, first I need to admit I love me some Jack McCoy. He is one of my favorite television characters of all time. I just think he was better as the assistant district attorney. Here is one of my favorite clips of McCoy as District Attorney, blasting the leader of a teachers' union for withholding information needed to find a possible school shooter: 

2. Arthur Branch (Fred Thompson): While I do not agree with Branch's politics (or Thompson's for that matter) I still must say that I did enjoy his character on the show. He brought balance to the left leaning McCoy and worked well with the various assistants that worked with McCoy, except for the odd "firing" of Serena Southerlyn at the end of season fifteen. I also loved all of his southern "country" sayings when he had discussions with Jack McCoy.

1. Adam Schiff (not the Congressman): Steven Hill: Just as Lennie Briscoe was a no-brainer pick for the top detective, I believe the same is the case for Hill's character Adam Schiff. Schiff is the original district attorney and remained in the role through season ten. I loved that Schiff was always in control and very rarely worried about what others thought; he was simply a wise, gentle leader that strived to run a fair yet compassionate district attorney's office. Here is a great Adam Schiff scene with ADA Jack McCoy:

Assistant to ADA (Not Assistant to the Regional Manager)

7. Jamie Ross (Carey Lowell): Jamie Ross appeared in two seasons (seven and eight). I never really cared for her character. In my opinion, she came off as a no-fun know-it-all. Some trivia, Lowell was once married to actor Richard Gere.

6. Serena Southerlyn (Elisabeth Röhm): Some may think this ranking is too low. as Southerlyn had a nearly four season run during the show's prime. I do not have anything against her character. I enjoy the episodes, I just do not really "love" them. I also thought her final episode where she is fired was strange; she asks Arthur Branch, "is this because I'm a lesbian?" I really never got that vibe from here character, so I just thought it was an odd way to depart the show mid-way through season fourteen. She is the second longest running assistant ADA in the series.

5. Alexandra Borgia (Annie Parisse): I really liked Borgia, and she would be ranked higher if for not such a short run on the show (seasons fifteen and sixteen). She was intelligent and tough....and I am not going to lie...she is quite attractive. A little trivia, Borgia is one of two assistant ADA's that are killed off the show, do you know the second?
Photo of Alexandra Borgia
Alex Borgia hard at work

4. Abbie Carmichael (Angie Harmon): It was very difficult for me to not to place Carmichael in the top three. She appeared in three seasons (nine through eleven). Harmon's character was extremely conservative compared to McCoy and Schiff. I do not mark her down for that at all, she brought great balance to the show. Carmichael was intelligent and tough, probably the toughest assistant of the entire cast.....I would not want to be the defendant facing her in a courtroom. Also, bonus points for her Texas accent. 

3. Claire Kincaid (Jill Hennessy): As with my top five of the detectives on the law side, my top three ranking here is very difficult. I really enjoyed Kincaid's character as she spent three seasons (seasons four through six) on the show and is the first female character on the "Order" side of the show. She worked with both Ben Stone and Jack McCoy. She is also my trivia question answer from earlier in this post, she was killed off at the end of season six in the episode "After Shock" as she was killed in a car accident, after being hit by a drunk driver while picking up an intoxicated Lennie Briscoe from a bar. While researching this post, I also learned that Jill Hennessy has a twin sister Jacqueline. Jacqueline actually filled in for Jill in the episode "Corpus Delicti" for certain courtroom scenes so Jill could film scenes in Baltimore for the NBC crime series Homicide: Life on the Street (another great show that for some reason is not streaming anywhere).

2. Paul Robinette (Richard Brooks):  Robinette is the original assistant to the ADA appearing in seasons one through three. So many things to love about Robinette: his intelligence, his style, his patience, his habit of wearing a pen in his suit coat pocket....he was the perfect partner to Ben Stone. Richard Brooks also has a Michigan connection, while he was born in Cleveland Ohio, he studied acting, dance, and voice work at Interlochen Academy of Arts located in Northern Michigan. Brooks was so good he was brought back (as Robinette) to appear as a defense attorney three separate times; in seasons six, sixteen, and seventeen. It was so hard for me not to put him in the number one spot but.....

Photo of Robinette and Stone
The best DA team?  I think so

1. Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza): To be honest, it was very close between number two Robinette and number one Rubirosa for my rankings. My final tie-breaker came down to length of service/number of episodes. Connie Rubirosa appeared in seasons seventeen through the twentieth final season. She is the only assistant ADA to appear in four full seasons. De La Garza worked perfect with ADA McCoy in her first season and then with Michael Cutter for the final three seasons of Law and Order.

Assistant District Attorney

3. Michael Cutter (Linus Roache): Ok, before I start this ranking I need to first state that all three of the characters were outstanding during their Law and Order run. This was the most difficult section of my rankings because I really do not dis-like any of the actors or their characters. Cutter ends up in third simply because he appears in the least amount of episodes of the three, (seasons eighteen through twenty). When I think about it, the final seasons (eighteen through twenty) really had an outstanding cast. They remind me of the 2004 Detroit Pistons, no super-star, but a solid, championship team. 
Cast Photo
The best cast top to actually may be

2. Benjamin Stone (Michael Moriartty): Ben Stone is an original, appearing in seasons one through four. I always enjoyed Stone's character for his intelligence and time he spent explaining his decisions as ADA. I really want to put him as number one, and to be honest, his partnership with Paul Robinette may be the best ADA pair in the history of Law and Order. Moriarty, another Michigan native, left the show after a dispute with Attorney General Janey Reno over censorship of violent television (amusing if you look at what was considered violent in 1990 - 1994 compared to modern times). Here is a great Ben Stone scene that starts with one of his "what if" discussions that I enjoy so much.

1. Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston): While Lennie Briscoe was a run-away number one detective for my ranking I had a little more difficulty with this ranking. I am still confident with Jack being my number one, it just was not a slam dunk like the Briscoe pick was. Ben Stone's character was a much stronger number two than the detectives chasing after Lennie. Sam Waterston was at his best in the ADA role. I love when he would go off on one of his "lectures" during his closing arguments. Here is a great Jack McCoy clip, I loved the way he would  own the courtroom: 

So, there it is, my "Order" rankings for Law and Order. It was much more difficult, but a fair ranking I believe. I assume some may not be happy with my number one assistant to the ADA, but otherwise I am happy with my rankings. What do you think? Leave your rankings in the comments, I will be happy to argue.


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