Law & Order: True Crime – The Menendez Murders Recycles the Same Formula We’ve Seen for 27 Years

Lyle & Eric Menendez Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Photo Credit: Justin Lubin/NBC

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders Series Premiere Plot Summary:

From Law & Order creator Dick Wolf, this new version of the famed crime drama presents a season long dramatization of the infamous Menendez Brothers murder trial.

It’s hard not to compare NBC’s Law & Order: True Crime – The Menendez Murders to FX’s American Crime Story: The People vs O.J. Simpson. They’re in essence the same type of show — a dramatization of a real life murder, and the subsequent trial, and media circus that took place in the ’90s. They also borrow heavily from popular franchises, from television masterminds — one from Dick Wolf’s Law & Order, the other from Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.

However, where the two diverge is execution. American Crime Story grabbed you from the first scene. It was a visceral, brilliantly acted, and marvelously written, and directed series. It felt like you were watching something special; like this was a landmark TV event. And in all honesty, when the show concluded, it lived up to all that hype.

Sadly, Law & Order: True Crime does not grab you. In fact, it plays more like an everyday episode of Law & Order, and therein lies the problem. The premiere did not feel like you were watching an event series (which it is), but just a variation on the Law & Order model. And given that franchise’s proclivity for ‘ripping from the headlines’ for their plots, True Crime feels even more pedestrian than it should.

Now is this a bad series?

Absolutely not. The performances, particularly from Miles Gaston Villanueva as Lyle Menendez, are strong. The series also does a nice job of teasing the name guests in the premiere episode. We’re given glimpses of Anthony Edwards, Josh Lucas, Heather Graham, and Chris Bauer’s involvement in the show, and we get a slightly more extended look at Edie Falco’s character. The shame here is that Falco’s character is so interesting, and they did not give her enough screen time. However, that will most likely change in future episodes.

Law & Order: True Crime – The Menendez Murders is a solid hour of television. If you enjoy Law & Order, you’re going to enjoy this. However, based off the premiere episode, it looks like the series does not have the same dramatic gravity that American Crime story had.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Law & Order: True Crime airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites