The Seventh Season
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is a spin-off series of Law & Order. It has a similar format as its parent show. The major difference is the type of cases. "Special Victims Unit" (SVU) focuses on the special victims unit, which is responsible for investigating crimes of a horrific nature: sex crimes. Each episode contains gruesome detail about issues like incest, pedophilia, rape, etc. There is also a lot of focus on the emotional burden that the victims and the case detectives have to face. For more details about this series refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one, season two, season three, season four, and season five.
In season seven, the SVU team has a variety of tough cases. The entertainment factor is high with great criminal investigations and intricate courtroom battles. The strength of this season is similar to past ones with solid character development as the SVU team deals with personal demons and convictions while trying to catch the bad guys. Despite the similar flow to past seasons, season seven has a slight difference. There is more focus on individual characters, rather then the team as whole. In fact, there are a few episodes with either Benson or Stabler having minimal presence. For instance, in "Name", forensic technician Millie Vizcarrando (Paula Garces, The Shield) teams up with Stabler to solve a cold case. There are a few episodes like "Name" that change up the tempo. In most cases the deviation works, but the better episodes have Benson, Stabler, Munch, and Tutuola working in tandem. Nevertheless, season seven is still quite strong.
The season opens with the episode "Demons", which is very powerful and exhilarating. Robert Patrick guest stars as Ray Schenkel. Ray is a pedophile who spent the last twenty years in prison for raping a teenage girl. He comes out of prison with an open mind and the belief he is cured. Around the same time of Ray's release, a young girl is found raped and murdered. The original case detective William Dorsey believes Ray is the culprit. Dorsey convinces SVU to look at Ray for the crime. Stabler goes undercover as an ex-con. He befriends Ray and slowly enacts Ray to go back to his old habits. The episode is very emotional and focuses on Stabler struggling with his inner demons as he gets too close to the case. In addition, the borderline entrapment of Ray makes it hard for Cragen to support.
"Design" is the next episode and perhaps one of the most intriguing of the season. Benson reports to a call at a local hotel. She finds pregnant April Troost, who is contemplating suicide. April's pregnancy was the product of rape. Immediately, Benson develops a connection with April, as her past is of a similar nature. Benson works hard to do April right by helping her face her rapist. As the case develops, April's past turns out to be more than Benson bargained for. The episode is pretty emotional and puts Benson in a tough spot with some nice twists and turns.
As the season continues, there are numerous solid episodes that include "911", Benson gets a call from a young girl in captivity that everyone thinks is a prank, "Ripped", the son of Stabler's former radio car partner is accused for attacking a female friend, "Raw", the SVU team investigates a school shooting that leads them to white supremacists, "Storm", the team identifies three young girls who were abducted by a pedophile after Hurricane Katrina, "Taboo", a newborn baby is found in the trash that is connected to a twisted family relationship; Zeljko Ivanek guest stars, and "Class", a twenty-something college girl is found murdered and the investigation leads to a complex case involving undercover federal agents.
Overall, the season seven episodes have a variety of great plotlines that provide twists and turns as the cases get more complex for both the investigations and the courtroom trials. At the surface, the notion of rapes, murders, and crimes involving children has the potential to be repetitive, especially after several seasons. "SVU" does a fine job in its seventh season keeping the content fresh. While there are some similarities between cases, the plotlines are pretty creative with lots of twists and turns. The underlying character development is also a great aspect that allows the series to grow a bit while keeping the bulk of the show in an episodic format. The detectives unravel some pretty gruesome cases and the assistant district attorney consistently runs into tough, complex court cases. These aspects are what have helped keep the series fresh and entertaining. For fans of the show, this season is must.
1. Demons: After 21 years, a sex offender is released from jail, but the retired officer who initially locked him up begs Detectives Benson and Stabler to follow the ex-convict and put him away for good.
2. Design: A suicidal girl confides in Benson that her pregnancy is the result of a rape by a successful businessman. But when the girl is willing to settle for money, Benson and Stabler become suspicious of her story.
3. 911: A disturbing 911 call from a nine-year-old has the detectives racing to find the source of the call, despite multiple phony leads.
4. Ripped: When a high school student is brutally attacked by one of her classmates, Detectives Stabler, Benson and Fin investigate Luke Breslin, the highly volatile son of Stabler's former partner.
5. Strain: A man is found murdered execution-style in the windows of his workplace, and the disturbing clues lead Detectives Benson and Fin to a gay circuit club that's also a meth hangout.
6. Raw: Detectives Benson and Stabler investigates a horrific school shooting, and evidence leads them to a gun store that also serves as the headquarters for a white supremacist group.
7. Name: When construction workers discover the remains of a young boy, Detective Stabler teams up with a CSU tech to resurrect a cold case of four boys who disappeared 30 years earlier.
8. Starved: A series of rapes are linked to a speed-dating service, so Detective Benson goes undercover to find the assailant and convince his highly unstable girlfriend to testify against him.
9. Rockabye: When a runaway is found badly beaten and suffering from a miscarriage due to her injuries, the detectives investigate an abortion clinic that seems to have ulterior motives in the case.
10. Storm: Benson and Stabler aggressively pursue a child molester who kidnapped three young sisters, while New York cops butt heads with federal authorities after the suspect is discovered to heave deadly anthrax.
11. Alien: When a severely injured 12-year-old boy is dumped outside a hospital, Detectives Benson and Stabler are led to a teenager seen beating the boy a week earlier.
12. Infected: A woman is found shot to death in her apartment, but the case becomes even stranger when Detectives Benson and Stabler discover a 14-year-old boy traumatized and hiding in the closest.
13. Blast: M.E. Warner visits the family of a recent kidnap victim to inform them of her findings, but when she delivers the diagnosis she is suddenly drawn into the kidnapper's deadly game.
14. Taboo: When a newborn baby boy is discovered in the trash, Detectives Benson and Stabler use a bar t-shirt found at the scene to trace the crime to a well-to-do daughter of a city councilman.
15. Manipulated: When the body of a murdered young woman is found in her apartment, Detectives Benson and Stabler discover she's a successful attorney - and stripper - which is apparently unknown to her fiance or boss.
16. Gone: Three teens are suspected of foul play when a high school girl disappears after a night of partying. But when one of the boys goes missing as well, ADA Novak decides to reevaluate the suspects.
17. Class: When a co-ed is found murdered with an unexplained influx of cash, the detectives investigate the various suspects: a roommate, her childhood friend and someone connected to a website where the victim was selling term papers for cash.
18. Venom: Detective Fin is torn between his family and the system when his son is roughed up and arrested for murder after digging in a vacant lot late at night.
19. Fault: Solid investigative work leads the detectives to search for a violent repeat sex offender who was recently put back on the streets and has kidnapped two children.
20. Fat: When teenage siblings attack and sodomize another girl, M.E. Warner and Detective Stabler conclude that the rime is related to the victim's weight.
21. Web: The police are brought into family abuse allegations when a woman believes her young son was molested by her husband, but the boy's older brother also comes under suspicion when it's discovered that he runs a porn site catering to pedophiles.
22. Influence: In the daring season finale, the highly controversial rant of a former rock star convinces an unstable young woman to go off her prescribed meds with deadly results.
The video is given in 1.78:1 ratio anamorphic widescreen color. Like previous season releases, the picture looks good. There are a few distortions in the picture during heavy movement and some minor compression artifacts, but nothing too bad. Overall it looks good.
The audio track included with this box set is in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround sound. The sound quality is good, the track is pretty clean and spoken dialogue is easily heard. The 5.1 track is dialogue driven and makes decent use of the surround sound capability when applicable. This release also has subtitles in English and Spanish.
There are no extras included with this DVD release.
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is a television crime drama that takes a look at the gruesome side of crime by focusing on cases of a sexual nature. In particular, this series balances a fine level of character development while looking at disturbing and twisted cases from the detectives' investigations, court room procedures, forensic pathology, and psychological/emotional aspects. Season seven follows this general tone and provides one compelling episode after another. It is highly recommended.