Friday, 4 March 2016

Theme Time : Mike Post - Law and Order SVU

Another classic Mike Post theme is, of course, the one for...

Originally a spin-off from Dick Wolf's Law and Order (and Homicide: Life on the Street thanks to Richard Belzer's iconic Detective Munch being a regular in both shows) SVU made its debut in 1999 and has been, as of 2011, the only remaining L&O series in production (though it has subsequently been bolstered by links to Wolf's other series, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD - and if you haven't seen them, do so, they're brilliant - and Chicago Med) Characters have come and gone but Mariska Hargity, daughter of Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargity, remains the only surviving original cast member in her role as Olivia Benson.

Like L&O, SVU's remit was to present episodes 'torn from the headlines' ie use real life crimes for inspiration. At the heart of SVU is the 1986 murder of Jennifer Levin at the hands of her boyfriend Robert Chambers, known as the 'preppie murder' case. This case saw Chambers argue that Levin's death came about during a consensual act of rough sex in Manhattan's Central Park and Wolf was inspired to write a season one episode of Law and Order entitled Kiss The Girls and Make Them Die in 1990 as a direct result. But his fascination for the case continued and led to him creating SVU, L&O's first spin off series.

There is perhaps no better summary of the show than the one provided by the show itself at the start of each episode in the shape of Steven Zirnkilton's narrative introduction...

"In the criminal justice system, sexually based offences 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..."

The theme tune for SVU is itself a variation on the original theme tune for L&O and both were composed by Mike Post. In addition, SVU also includes the now infamous L&O scene change tone, or 'The Clang'  - a tone generated by Post which moves the viewer from scene to scene. The familiar 'dunk dunk' is composed of nearly a dozen sounds, including a judge's gavel, a jail door slamming, and - apparently, if Wiki is to be believed -  five hundred Japanese monks walking across a hardwood floor (!)


  1. I used to watch these some years ago and see they are still running on cable channels - involving when watching them, like our UK's "Law & Order" series - but I am hooked on "Scott & Bailey" re-runs at the moment, more Sally Wainwright at her best, giving her casts great opportunities to shine - Nicola Walker, Kevin Doyle, Amelia Bulmore, Joe Duttine and the two leads Suranne Jones and Leslie Sharp. Even if one has seen them before they are still watchable ...

    1. LOVE Scott and Bailey, I've got all of them on DVD and yes, I totally agreem you can watch them over and over. I'm really hooked on Happy Valley at the moment and believe the second series could possibly be even better than the first - though, as you mentioned in a recent blog post yourself, some of the sound issues are very distracting. That said, last Tuesday's ep seemed to have cleaned up its act and I could actually hear every line! It's a shame they did this, as I don't recall that problem with the first series which came out the week after the Jamaica Inn debacle - now that was impenetrable!