Desperately bored, my wife and I decided to watch the latest episode of Law and Order SVU last night.Â I noticed the name Jack Larson in the credits that overlay the opening of the show.Â “That can’t be the Jack Larson,” I said to myself.Â I was thinking about the character actor who played Jimmy Olsen on the Superman TV show from the ’50s.Â It turns out that it was that Jack Larson.Â He played a vital role in one of the stupidest, most contrived plots I’ve ever seen on a TV show intended for an adult audience.Â It made Superman look like Chekov.Â Fans of the old TV series remember Larson’s work as the dull witted cub reporter/photographer with poor impulse control who got tied up back to back with Noel Neill and Phyllis Coates (the actors who played Lois Lane) at the 20 minute mark of most of the episodes of Superman.Â Superman would rescue them at the end of the show and make a wry remark or two.Â Clark Kent might make an appearance in the last scene and further confuse the hapless Lane and Olsen characters with remarks clearly intended for the viewers.
In last night’s Law and Order SVU, Larson played a grandfather, a more fitting role for a man who was born in 1928.Â The story opened with vignettes of people in an apartment building hearing screams from outside and finding reasons not to call the police.Â The psychologically damaged detective duo, Stabler and Benson, come to the scene of the crime and find the body of a young woman who was raped and murdered.Â They make self righteously angry remarks about the people in the apartment building who failed to call the police while the woman lay dying for several hours.
Their investigation leads them to two suspects, a high school student at an exclusive prep school who was the young woman’s boyfriend before she turned to blogging and Internet driven anonymous sex encounters and an obviously psychopathic young stock broker whom the young woman met the night of her death through an anonymous sex hook-up social network.Â A brief scene with the father of the victim establishes the reason for her self destructive behavior.Â Her mother died recently.
Benson contacts a rape victim they find through the stock broker’s friend list on a Web site like Facebook and discovers that the rape victim had had consensual sex with the bad broker.Â The victim, who now repents her brief period of promiscuity, supplies titillating details of the sexual encounter.
The high school student turns out to have had a date with the murder victim on the night of her death but their evening ended with her asking him to have the limo drop her off at the park where she had, through her smart phone, arranged a hook up with the stock broker.
ME Warner usurps the role of the CSIs and extracts latent fingerprints from the neck of the victim in the area where she was choked that exonerate the evil broker.Â They turn out to belong to the jilted high school student.Â Benson and Stabler elicit a tearful confession from the former boyfriend, without the use of waterboarding or other enhanced interrogation techniques.Â He watched the victim and the evil broker having sex in the park and, in a fit of jealousy and anger driven by self pity, strangles the victim and beats her over the head with a large rock.Â His incompetence is obvious.Â He’s unable to strangle her completely and, even using a 5 pound rock, he’s unable to kill her immediately.Â Â She dies slowly and painfully from blood loss as she lies helplessly in the park.
It looks like the show is over but only 20 minutes are gone.Â Something is wrong.Â The writers seem to run out of ideas early.Â No such luck for the viewer.Â DNA testing reveals, somehow or other, that the ophidian broker is HIV positive.Â Stabler and Benson have a new reason to be outraged as they realize that the broker’s bodily fluids have infected the women, thousands he claims, that he “tapped.”
Benson and ADA Cabot, who sports some stylish “smart girl” glasses, go back to visit the cold case rape victim and discover that she has AIDS and is unable to afford medicine to treat it.Â Benson and Cabot enlist her aid in nailing the broker.Â Medical examiner Warner comes up with a nifty way of identifying the viral strain in the broker and the rape victim that demonstrates that he infected her.
You’re probably wondering where Jimmy Olsen comes in.Â Turns out that the psychopathic securities wizard lives with his grandfather, played by Jack Larson.Â Larson’s counter tenor voice is a bit raspier than it was in 1954 but it’s unmistakable.
The broker is brought to trial and the judge agrees to admit ME Warner’s nifty evidence.Â The judge declares a recess and the HIV infected rape victim who was infected by the broker comes into the court room and asks to address the court.Â The judge tells her to go away.Â The woman whips out a wash bottle, that endless source of fun for high school chemistry students when filled with distilled water, filled with sulfuric acid and sprays the broker in the face.
ADA Cabot decides to prosecute the woman for assault.Â The broker loses the sight in one eye and has bad acid burns on one side of his face.Â When he appears next he wears a snappy pirate style eye patch and appears to have a bad case of poison oak.
In the assault trial Cabot brings the acid squirting AIDS sufferer to the witness box, following the usual Law and Order convention of the defense being ignorant of the Fifth Amendment.Â She crucifies the woman with gratuitous references to AIDS prevention billboards visible in her neighborhood in an effort to show that the victim was partly responsible for her infection.
In a crucial scene, during a recess, grandpa visits Cabot in her office and offers to testify for the acid squirter implying that he knows some damaging things about his grandson’s obsessive pursuit of anonymous sex.Â It also turns out that the grandfather was the one who, in the words of the TV show, “hacked” his grandson’s Facebook like page to inform the women who had had sex with the toxic trader that he was HIV positive.Â It’s not clear how a man who presumably had the computer skills of the average 85 year old could have done this but it is clear that the writers hoped that the fast pace of the contrived plot would keep the viewer from thinking too hard.
Stabler and Benson decide to visit the broker and his grandfather to find out what information Cabot refused to learn from him.Â Pushing their way past the pirate with poison oak they race upstairs to find the grandfather clutching a pill bottle.Â The grandfather reveals that the mother who supposedly abandoned the broker when he was a little tyke actually went to prison.Â Apparently the mother murdered an abusive boyfriend who was not the broker’s father.Â The grandfather got custody and tried to protect the junior sex addict from the truth. In a way that’s not fully explained the grandfather feels he’s responsible for the broker’s bad behavior.
Stabler finally looks at the pill bottle and finds that it had been full of Seconal but is now empty.Â He calls for an ambulance but it’s too late.Â Grandpa expires after telling his prodigal grandson to become a better human being.
The broker is overcome with remorse and agrees to drop the charges against the acid squirting woman and plead guilty to the charges against him for willfully infecting an undetermined number of women with HIV.Â In an off screen shocker, the grandfather, apparently a very rich man,Â disinherits his grandson and changes his will to set up a trust fund to provide medical care for his grandson’s victims.
In the final scene Benson and Cabot visit the acid sprayer who’s grateful to get off on the assault charge but reminds them that her rapist is still unidentified.Â Benson promises that she’ll get the perp.
This probably isn’t the most inane and convoluted plot I’ve come across.Â It’s clearly the most inane and convoluted plot I’ve seen on TV in the past week or so.Â It combined so many thing in such a short time and tied them together so clumsily that it’s definitely worth mention.
From Wikipedia I learned that Larson is gay.Â His partner of 35 years, director James Bridges who directed films including The China Syndrome and The Paper Chase, died in 1993.Â Before Bridges Larson was romantically linked with Montgomery Clift.Â Larson also wrote the libretto for an opera about Lord Byron composed by Virgil Thompson.