Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Law and Order" and "Celebrity Apprentice"

"Law and Order: SVU"

This was an episode that hit home in a lot of ways.

A container of fertilized eggs was stolen from a fertility clinic. The container had the ability to keep the eggs viable only for a certain amount of time, so the detectives were up against a ticking clock to find the container. They interviewed a number of suspects, including parents who have one child who had a physical ailment that would keep her mentally at the level of a child forever, so they were also allowing her physical growth to be stunted so that she would be easier to handle physically, since she had so many needs. The mother was incapable of having another child, so the parents authorized fertility treatments for their daughter with the plan to harvest one of her eggs so that the parents could have another child.

The eggs in the container that was stolen belonged to all manner of people who were using the clinic for one reason or another. After much investigation, they discovered that two members of a group called the Values Defense League stole the eggs. The clinic screened all fertilized eggs for potential problems and any unused fertilized eggs were sometimes donated to science or just destroyed. The League believed that was cruel, that every fertilized egg was a person, and they'd prefer that any unused fertilized eggs were brought to term and then adopted out - to heterosexual couples. It turned out that they sent the container back to the clinic via a courier service, who were supposed to deliver the package in plenty of time for the eggs to be transferred into a new container. However, the courier service was late in making their delivery and by the time the eggs were brought back to the clinic, the container had already failed, and the eggs were all destroyed.

One of the people with eggs in the container was a woman who was going to be going through chemo and radiation to treat her cancer, so she had eggs removed and fertilized and put into storage before receiving her treatment. She had wanted the eggs implanted, but her doctor didn't want to do it until she had been in remission for six months. Olivia has been speaking to her all along the way, and she was the one who had to relay the news that all of her eggs had been destroyed.

The man who was responsible for actually stealing the eggs (the female served as a diversion) held a press conference to try to personally apologize to all the people whose eggs were destroyed. When he was shot and killed, the detectives eventually found the culprit. A husband had a wife who was being sent to Iraq, and she left eggs behind in case anything happened to her, so her husband would still be able to have a child with her. Her eggs were in the container and thus destroyed - and the detectives found the man as he was meeting the casket that was holding her body as it was being returned to the States.

Throughout the story, the various detectives had been making comments to Olivia, pushing her to have children. She had also heard the fertility doctors say that many women put eggs away because they put off child-bearing until later as they pursue their careers. In her talks with various people during her investigation, they asked why she didn't have any children, and when she tried to explain (not revealing, however, that her being a product of rape and her own mother's treatment of her had contributed to her not knowing if she wanted to have children), they couldn't understand why a woman would postpone having children. In the end, Olivia revealed to Elliot that some time previous, she looked into adopting but was turned down because of her single status and her occupation.

I have my particular feelings about using science to aid in having children, but I won't go into that. What spoke to me about this episode was really about the attitudes being tossed at Olivia because she didn't have children and wasn't necessarily gung-ho to have them. I've encountered that sort of attitude myself. When people ask "do you have any children", it's almost a rhetorical question to them. They assume that you're going to say "yes", and they're startled when you say "no", moreso if conversation continues and you tell them you're not going to have any children. I've run across people who then have no idea what to say to you after that point. They don't know how to deal with someone, especially a woman, who doesn't have children, who has chosen not to have children and who doesn't have any interest in having children.

"Law and Order: CI" - I found this episode to be too convoluted and not all that interesting. An assistant at a company was an aspiring writer, but she was found dead after doing a reading of one of her short stories at a club. Suspicion initially fell on a sleazy agent who approached her after the reading, but eventually, it is discovered that her mentor had been hiding many secrets. He was in danger of having it revealed that he had actually taken her draft book and rewritten it himself, to be released as a book under his name. In addition, he was mentoring another writer who had also published a book with experiences that weren't in fact his. The writer had a volatile temper, and the mentor set him up to kill the aspiring writer. Yeah, ok, didn't really care that much.

"Law and Order" - A teenage white boy and a 10 year old black girl were both found shot in the same vicinity in a neighborhood that had been predominantly black but which was being revitalized, so more white people were moving in and driving up the housing prices, thus driving out a lot of the black people. Tensions between black and white were high in this neighborhood. It's discovered that the boy who was killed was with two other white boys (brothers) who were about to attack a black boy, whose father shot at them in defense of his son and in the process of killing one of the white boys, he also killed the black girl accidentally. As the investigation developed further, it turned out that the black boy was one of a group who had stolen a basketball from the white boys earlier in the day, and the white boys were goaded by the brothers' mother to stand up for themselves. She urged them to go back with baseball bats and even drove them back to the area to get the basketball back. One of her sons said that she told them just to scare the black boys, but when the white boys were chasing the black boy with bats, including swinging the bats at the black boy, there was no way to know they weren't actually going to harm him. The black father who fired the shots and the white mother who goaded the boys were charged with both deaths. With the racial angle and the problems which could arise if one were acquitted while the other was found guilty, the ADA decided to try both cases together - two separate defendants for one single crime. And for the first time this season, the trial actually went all the way through, and the new ADA made a summation speech. He was actually pretty good, but he was no Jack McCoy. Both defendants were found not-guilty for the boy's death but guilty for the girl's death. This was an interesting episode, and I liked the culpability heaped onto both parents. The trial's still not really doing it for me as much as it used to.

"Celebrity Apprentice"

In this episode, the teams would be selling tickets to four Broadway shows. Eight shows were made available, and two people from each team met to negotiate which team would get which show. Empresario with project manager Marilu Henner ended up with "Spring Awakenings", "Hairspray", "Curtains" and "Avenue Q". Hydra with project manager Vinnie (the actor from "The Sopranos") ended up with "Rent", "Spamalot", "Chicago" and one other show that I never found out.

Celebrity contacts definitely played a huge roll in this challenge, even more so than in the hot dog challenge. Piers (the talent show judge) called Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic, who agreed to buy $10,000 worth of tickets. Marilu Henner arranged for David Hyde-Pierce, who was starring in "Curtains", to come to Empresario's booth and meet people to draw more attention to them. Bob Saget visited Hydra's booth for no reason that was explained. Trace, the country singer, contacted some people at EMI, who came through with $5,000. Nely contacted people that she knew to buy tickets as well.

When it came time to announce the winner, it turned out that Hydra had beat Empresario again, but this time, only by a narrow margin of about $2,000. Some of the people that Nely contacted showed up after the deadline, so their contribution didn't count. Had they made it there in time, Empresario would have won.

Marilu brought Carol and Jennie back into the boardroom. Empresario had already been told that they did a poor job of properly using their assets. David Hyde-Pierce was there, but he was wearing a baseball cap and there wasn't enough attempt to make his presence known. Carol and Jennie, two of the more beautiful women of the group, were kept inside the tent doing administrative work instead of being out front and attracting attention. Hydra had been praised for doing a great job in attracting attention with their use of a bullhorn but also because they managed to get a knight's costume for Piers, who was advertising "Spamalot". As has been the pattern when Empresario has lost, except in the case of Gene Simmons, the least aggressive and quietest person was kicked off, this time, in the form of Jennie. Ivanka noted to Donald that Marilu couldn't bring Nely back into the boardroom because Empresario needs her if they have any hope of winning, and Marilu even admitted that she had brought back the two people she thought were most expendable. Wonder how well that comment is going to sit with Carol.

This week's episode runs for two hours. I'm not sure if that's necessited by the episode itself or because NBC is trying to counter against the season premiere of "Lost" on ABC tonight.

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